Squash profiles

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anikaAnika Jackson

When it comes to squash, 13-year-old Anika Jackson has set herself a lofty goal; to be world champion.
However far from being an unrealistic teenage dream, the accomplished athlete already boasts national and international titles and experience.
She also has a well thought out game plan, with short-term and long-term goals, and clear stepping stones of what she plans to achieve through to the year 2031, where she will focus on stage four of her plan; major international senior titles, culminating in the world open championship.
As well as talent and work ethic, Anika is also remarkably well- equipped with the knowledge of what it takes to succeed.
Squash is a very much a family sport and she follows in the footsteps of an impressive family pedigree. Anika’s aunt Leilani Rorani won the British Open twice, reached No1. World ranking and won two gold medals for her country.
“Leilani’s international achievement and success has always inspired me to work hard when training and competing, especially when it gets tough,” says Anika.
“Playing squash and physical activity is encouraged in my family and something we all do together. I am extremely blessed to have grandparents, parents, aunties and an uncle who played squash and reached a high level, with a few of them representing Waikato district and seniors and juniors.”
Despite her youth, Anika is already a sports star. Among her achievements is 2014 Oceania U13 runner-up, Waikato Junior Age Group (13) winner, North Island Junior Champs (U13) winner and a swag more national titles, back to her first when she was just nine years old.

Age: 13

What is your level of involvement in squash?
I am involved in squash at a national and international level. I have won the under 11 and under 13 New Zealand junior titles and will compete for the under 15 title this year in Invercargill.
The 2014 Oceania Junior event was my first international tournament where I came runner-up in the under 13s. I will compete in two international junior events this year, the Oceania and Malaysia Junior age groups.

What grade have you reached already?
I achieved Grade B1 last year when I was 12.

What do you enjoy most about squash?
I love travelling to different places around the country and I love winning.

How often do you train?
I have squash training three to five times a week and have fitness training two to three times.

What are the benefits of squash for your health and wellbeing?
Squash helps me to stay active, meet lots of people, showing my school mates, friends and other family members how to play the game.

What is your biggest challenge?
One challenge for me is overcoming fears when I play opponents who are a higher grade. But the biggest challenge is achieving enough funding to cover expenses for international tournaments. If I am to be the best I must compete against the best juniors in the world.

What other activities do you do to help with your squash?
Thanks to ‘The Adastra Foundation’ I have a gym membership at the Avantidrome where I have access to a high performance bike to complete my cardio workout and a personal trainer who assists me to complete a strengthening and flexibility programme.

Describe your nutrition and lifestyle:
You know I am at that age where I just want to eat everything. It’s a good thing I want to be a squash champion, it helps me to have an even balance.
I love pasta, fried rice, salads, nectarines, strawberries and ice cream. Most of my time is spent with my family. We do everything together like going to church, cycling, running around the lake, walking along the river walkways and playing squash together.
Also, I am excited to be going to Hamilton Girls’ High this year and meeting up with my school friends.

What motivates/inspires you?
I am inspired by my aunt, Leilani Rorani who won the British Open twice, reached the number one world ranking and won two gold medals for her country. Her international achievement and success has always inspired me to work hard when training and competing, especially when it gets tough.

What are your future plans?
I want to travel to international junior tournaments…compete in major junior and senior New Zealand squash events and be happy in the sport I love.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To never give up and always try my hardest no matter who I am playing.

trevorTrevor Coulter

Trevor Coulter is living proof that age is no barrier to succeeding in a sport. The fit and active 80-year-old has a swag of tournament wins to his name, since taking up the sport when the Frankton squash courts were built back in 1976.

The low-key Hamilton player is also the current World Masters Champion (80-plus age group) and plans to defend his title in two years in Johannesberg, South Africa. While he mostly plays socially these days, he does still compete at the two major competitions; the  New Zealand Masters and the World Masters Championships.

“I leave the Waikato Masters to the other players. There’s too many ‘kids’ (younger players) in it,” he chuckles.

Since his first international tournament in 1998, at the World Masters Games in Portland, Trevor has enjoyed many travels around the Globe – all in the quest of chasing that small black squash ball.

The former tennis player was ‘badgered’ into having a go at squash by a friend.

“We played a lot of tennis together but he also played squash at a Hamilton club and kept at me to have a go. Finally he jacked up a time and I played against his 12-year-old son and got a hell of a hiding.

“From there I thought it was probably a good idea to have another go.”

Trevor joined with a lot of other friends and much of the appeal of the game was its social aspect, although his competitive spirit also had something to do with it.
“Squash came along at the right time.  I was 41 and my daughter was 16 when we joined.  We would go down together after she had done her homework and play between about 10–10.30 pm. Back then the courts were packed and it was the best time to get a game.”

Age: 80

Grade: They’ve got me at D2 now but when I was at my most competitive I was B grade.

What do you enjoy most about squash?
If you ask my wife she would say going to all the overseas tournaments. She supports me when I’m overseas but never seems too worried about the ordinary tournaments back home. The travel is good fun.  I remember back when I first started playing it was a very social game and then suddenly you regret it when you realised you’ve got to play at 8am.

How often do you train and play?
What’s that word train mean?  The only time I train is if I get down to the courts and my mate can’ t make it and then I try and hit the ball around the place by myself. Otherwise I play socially three or four times a week.  I play tennis Monday nights and Wednesday mornings too.

What are the benefits of squash to your health and wellbeing?
Let me put it this way…it allows me to drink and keep my weight the same.

What’s the biggest challenge in the sport?
It has got to be able to entice the youngsters to get involved.  Squash has a good future as it can help to keep people active as they get older too.  Playing a game of squash doesn’t take as long as tennis and definitely not as long as golf. You can stay fit and of course have a drink afterwards.

What other activities do you do to help with your squash?
Mow lawns.  It’s all about just playing squash and enjoying the game.  It’s about having fun with your mates…it’s a shame there are those who think they are too old to play squash.

What motivates and inspires you?
First thing that comes to mind is that I don’t want to get old, so you gotta keep doing everything.  Whenever you stop doing something it goes backwards.  Harvey Coombes from Taupiri and I have a promise of a match when I turn 100.  He’ll only be 90!

What are your future plans?
I’ve got to go to Jo’berg in two years time to defend my title but then I’ll have to put up with all those kids coming through probably.  I played one in Christchurch in October.  He’d only just come up to the age group.  I saw him in Hong Kong this year and he was still playing in the 75 plus age group.  He’s on the hit list.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
I’ve never had any. I don’t give any either as probably no-one would listen.

brendanBrendan Hunt

There’s no age limitation as to when the squash bug can bite. St Paul’s student Brendan Hunt is a keen player who is striving to beat both his dad and his coach.

Age: 14

Level of involvement in squash: School (St Pauls), local club (Huntly Squash Racquets Club) and Junior tournaments.

Grade: J2

How and why you got involved in squash?
Mum, dad and my sister play as well. I have been going down to the squash club for as long as I can remember and always used to jump on a spare court.

What you enjoy most?
The challenge of moving up the grades.

How often you train/play?
Two or three times a week.

What benefits do you get from squash?
It’s great for my fitness and having fun with my friends.

What’s the biggest challenge in the sport?
Keeping my focus throughout the whole game.

What are other activities that help with your squash?
I also train three nights a week in competitive swimming and do a bit of running.

How does nutrition and lifestyle assist with your game?
I like to eat pasta before my training, and eat healthy at home with many home-grown vegetables.

What motivates/inspires you?
To beat my dad (one day). My coach at Huntly, Gordon Murray, who is well into his 70s and still active in squash, inspires me.

What are your future plans?
Make the top team for school nationals.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Watch the ball.

rachelRachel dixon

Rachel Dixon is a busy mum of two who started playing as a youngster. Her parents played squash and now she is passing her love of the sport onto her children.

Age:39

Grade: B2

How did you get involved in squash?
My parents played squash at Leamington Squash Club and got me involved at a young age. I really enjoy the social aspect. It is great being able to catch up with friends and exercise at the same time.

What do you enjoy most about the game?
It is a fast and furious game which only takes an hour or so to fit into your day. Again the social aspect, I have made some lifelong friends.

How often do you train/play?
I aim to play three times a week, fitting it around the kids’ activities

What are the benefits of squash?
It helps to control weight over winter and I feel great after exercising and catching up with people.

What’s the biggest challenge?
I try to keep improving and moving up the grades.  Finding time to fit in squash between work and the kids’ activities. Also, being beaten by younger players with good grace.

What other activities assist with your squash?
I run when I can fit it in. And good baking skills help for the club plate to keep team captain Shelley happy, she taste tests everything.

How would you describe your lifestyle?
I am a big fan of magnesium supplements to combat sore muscles, it makes a real difference.

What motivates/inspires you?
Fitness and health. Also when I lose a number of games in a row I will start fitting in more games, start doing lunges and squat exercises randomly in the kitchen (not sure if that helps).

What are your future plans?
Get the kids more involved in squash, keep enjoying it and buy more colourful squash skirts.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Have fun and just enjoy it. Never try to out-run a 20-year-old…It doesn’t end well.

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