by Chris Tobin
International squash comes to Timaru next week when the Australian Masters team meets New Zealand.
Players with some real pedigree will be in action from Monday at the Timaru Squash Club, when the best players from each country in their respective age groups compete.
The teams of six men and six women cover the five-year age bands from 35 to 70-plus and all hold A-grade rankings.
Tournament director and Timaru Squash Club president Vicki Rae said the public would be treated to some great squash in the three separate tests, held on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
Matches begin at 5pm each day and entry is free.
The transtasman series is held every two years and New Zealand holds the edge.
The test series is the first part of a trifecta for the Timaru club, which will also host the national masters tournament for individuals from Friday next week until Sunday, and then the inter-districts from the following Monday (October 21) to Wednesday.
The individual tournament will feature many of the players from the test series, and has also attracted other A-grade players from around the country.
“Entries are sitting around 200 so far, which we are pleased about,” Rae said.
The inter-districts is also highly competitive. Auckland and Canterbury are the traditional favourites.
The nine-day event will also be used to showcase South Canterbury to the visitors.
In all, about 400 players and supporters are expected to descend on Timaru over the nine days.
While the squash will be competitive there is also plenty of socialising to be had, the two main functions being a Superstars of the 1970s and ’80s-themed dinner and dance in the Caroline Bay Hall on Saturday, October 19 and a beach-themed barbecue and DJ at the same venue the next night.
“These events are not just for players, they are for the whole squash community,” Rae said.
“There are plenty of former players in South Canterbury and this will be a great opportunity for them to catch up on old mates, and there are still some tickets available.
“A lot of work has gone into this nine-day event and we’re now looking forward to the games getting under way. It promises to be something special for the district.”