Sen­sa­tion on the squash court


Joe Smythe: small in stature, big on re­sults.

The Plim­mer­ton 11-year-old has shown his class on the squash court in re­cent months, win­ning the South Is­land and North Is­land cham­pi­onships for the un­der11 grade.

He will be ranked fifth in the un­der-13 grade at the na­tion­als in Auck­land in Oc­to­ber.

Smythe played in the Hong Kong Ju­nior Open last month, fin­ish­ing a cred­itable third in his age group, from 64 com­peti­tors.

‘‘ It was hard,’’ Smythe said of the bouncier ball, the heat and the faster pace of play in the Hong Kong tour­na­ment.

‘‘They [his op­po­nents] didn’t play riskier shots and the style was dif­fer­ent. But I en­joyed the ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

Smythe, who picked up a squash rac­quet when he was 6, will some­times prac­tise and play seven days a week, if he has tour­na­ments to play in.

He trains at Mana Squash Club with coach Nick Mita and is also in the New Zealand de­vel­op­ment squad.

‘‘I love the fit­ness and hav­ing fun on court,’’ he said.

He plays in the D1 grade at in­ter­club and said beat­ing men came with its chal­lenges.

‘‘They don’t much like los­ing to me,’’ he said.

At the ju­nior na­tion­als in Auck­land, his aim is to at least make the quar­ter-fi­nals. Mana club­mate Kobe Flem­ing will be among the favourites in the un­der-13 age group.

In the short-term Smythe hopes to beat his fa­ther, Brent, for the first time this year and get to A grade be­fore he turns 15. His ul­ti­mate is the Com­mon­wealth Games.

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