Kitchen to be inducted into hall of fame
After an 11-year professional career earning multiple titles and medals, Kaitaia’s Shelley Kitchen will be inducted into the NZ Squash Hall of Fame at the national squash awards on Saturday.
Kitchen, now Squash New Zealand’s high performance manager, will be the first person in four years to be inducted into the coveted group which features squash legends such as Dame Susan Devoy, Murray Day and Pam Davis.
“I was really surprised just because of other people before me that were inducted, just because of their calibre. There’s been some pretty impressive names inducted,” Kitchen said.
A former World No 6-ranked professional player and Commonwealth Games medallist, she was inducted into the Northland Legends of Sport last year.
At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, Kitchen beat World No 1 Nicol David of Malaysia in the thirdplace match to capture the women’s singles bronze medal. She also won a silver medal in the women’s doubles at the games, partnering Tamsyn Leevey.
Earlier that year, Kitchen and Leevey won the women’s doubles title at the World Doubles Squash Championships. In 2004, Kitchen finished runnerup in the mixed doubles at the World Doubles Squash Championships, partnering Glen Wilson.
After getting sick in an attempt to come back for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, she announced her retirement in December 2010. In the 2011 New Year honours, Kitchen was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport.
Kitchen said while she was reluctant at first, she felt honoured to receive the accolade in front of her family and friends.
“It’s very special. I don’t really think about my squash achievements any more because it seems like such a long time ago. My parents are coming down from Kaitaia, my sister is coming and her husband, my mentors, friends from squash club so it’ll be really special.”
Kitchen said current NZ squash champions, Joelle King and Paul Coll, were role models for young squash players and she was focused on providing opportunities for them and growing the sport in other regions.
“The kids are really motivated. We know it takes 10-12 years once they come to [Squash NZ] to get them to a podium finish so it’s a long journey, so it’s important to have that structure to keep them going.
“Coaches are a big part of that not just in our main centres but all throughout NZ. Paul came from Greymouth and Joelle came from Cambridge so we need to be developing in these areas and giving coaches opportunities to grow in those regions.”
Kaitaia’s Shelley Kitchen will have her father Colin (left) watching on as she is inducted into the squash hall of fame next month.