by Chris Tobin
Timaru squash player Lily Rae (17) had her first taste of international competition recently and is keen to have more.
The Craighead Diocesan School pupil competed in the junior (under 19) Oceania championships in Auckland, placing 15th, then in the Australian Junior Open in Sydney, where she finished 13th, before capping off her foray across the Ditch by coming second in the junior Brisbane Open.
“The more I played, the better I got,” she said.
“I didn’t think it would make much difference playing in the heat but it did.”
The trip to Australia had been a “fantastic” opportunity to compete overseas and gauge her progress.
It has also proved to be ideal preparation for her trip to the Malaysian Junior Open in July.
“It’s hard but
I love it.”
Lily has been picked as a member of a New Zealand junior emerging girls’ team to compete there and is busy preparing under the direction of her coach, Nick Mita, of Wellington.
“He has given me a programme to prepare and it means a lot of acclimatising for the heat.”
Her rigorous programme begins with a 45-minute session on court in the mornings and another one to two hours’ training later in the day, six days a week.
“It’s hard but I love it,” Lily said.
Her goal in Malaysia is to play to the best of her ability.
“And to gain from the experience – there’s going to some amazing players there.”
To help finance her trip, the Timaru Squash Rackets Club is hosting an evening with New Zealand representative Zac Millar on Thursday next week.
Lily, partnered by fellow Timaru player Stephen Garner, will take on Millar in an exhibition match.