Photos: Luke Lee.
When it comes to badminton talent, the Waikato region boasts a massive representation of top class players. In fact, Waikato players made up half of the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team and Waikato Badminton is one of the strongest associations in New Zealand.
The mixed doubles pairing of Waikato siblings Oliver and Susannah Leydon-Davis has been the most successful for New Zealand in recent years, reaching a World ranking within the Top 50 and qualifying for both Commonwealth Games and the World Championships.
Individually both players boast a swag of national and international achievements. The former Hillcrest High School students present a formidable partnership in the pairs’ competition and are just as devastating when playing solo.
Fitness Journal chats with Badminton Waikato CEO Tjitte (TJ) Weistra, who holds national titles and a World title under his belt (men’s singles 2011).
How to get involved:
• More than 20 Clubs are affiliated to Waikato Badminton. Spread across Hamilton, Horsham Downs, Te Awamutu, Cambridge, Putaruru and with unaffiliated clubs in Matamata, Morrinsville, Tokoroa and Te Kuiti, the best place to check where these clubs are based is on waikatobadminton.co.nz
• Waikato Badminton has a purpose-built 10-court facility which is open 24/7 to card holders. The bookings system is fully automated including the ability to book online. Members are not tied into ongoing membership fees as Waikato Badminton operates on a “pay to play” basis, which means that if you don’t come in and play, you don’t pay.
• Casual players are welcome. People do not have to be a member of a club in order to play. Racquets and shuttles are provided free of charge during office hours for people who want to come in and have a go.
• Waikato Badminton runs events for young and old each calendar year. This year, secondary school competitions will run in Hamilton, Tokoroa and Te Kuiti and an intermediate school competition will also be held. For more info about school events, check the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know…
• Waikato Badminton is one of the strongest associations in New Zealand and the only one outside the Auckland region that can compete with Auckland.
• 50 percent of the 2014 NZ Commonwealth Games’ team came from Waikato home-grown or home-based players.
• Waikato won the premier league title (Wisden Cup) in 2010 for the first time in 73 years and also went on to win it in 2011 and 2012.
• The Wisden Cup team was awarded the Brian Perry Sport Waikato Team of the Year Award on the basis of this performance.
• The NZ U19 and U15 national junior squads feature a high number of Waikato youngsters.
• The Waikato U17 team won silver at the national championships in 2014 which was the first time Waikato ever achieved this.
Current Waikato players who are also NZ Squad members are:
– Oliver Leydon-Davis
– Susannah Leydon-Davis
– Madeleine Stapleton
– Michael Fowke
– Chris Steeghs (U19)
– Erena Calder-Hawkins (U19)
– Jasmanjot Virk (U19)
– Matthew Graham (U19)
– Josefine R Jensen (U19)
– Jahvaya Wheki (U19)
– Adam Jeffrey (U15)