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.