Christine Palmer lunges for the ball during her match against Keren Barcas. Photo: Barry Whitnall/Shuttersport.

Masters wind the clock back


Squash veterans defied their age to produce a quality display during the annual Sprig and Fern Club Master’s Tournament at the weekend.

The weekend was open to club players aged 35 and over with the oldest players aged in their early 60s.

While wild weather wreaked havoc on the weekend, with a number of players having to pull out due to flight cancellations, 46 players from as far north as Orewa and as far south as Dunedin took part.

The Waimea pair of Richard Stephenson and Christine Palmer won the open divisions across the two days of play.

Nelson Squash Club treasurer Andrea Blakeley says the weekend was a very social affair.

“Players don’t want to spoil the atmosphere, so it is all played in great spirits.”

Andrea says despite a number of players pulling out, the competition was still able to go ahead.

“The weather has made a mess out of the event, it has been a struggle to keep everyone happy as it’s always disappointing when you turn up to a competition and have no opponent, but we have made it work.”

She says while numbers were down on last year’s event, the tournament was still a success.

“Last year we had double the amount, the weather really had quite some impact, but Nelson put the weather on for us now and everyone has had a lot of fun.”

Some players showed tremendous dedication to make it to the Master’s such as Tawa’s Rex Mar.

“He sent us a message saying ‘I have to pull out my flight is cancelled’, ten minutes later he text saying ‘hold on I might catch a ferry’, then an hour later he text saying on the ferry ‘now can you postpone my match?’”

Rex arrived at 9pm to comfortably win his game.

Not even the sudden death of a teammate just prior to the event could stop a Hamilton team from fronting.

“They decided that if she would have been upset had they not gone and so they dedicated it to her.”

Though the bodies may have slowed somewhat, Andrea says the skills shown by some of the older statesmen were very impressive.

“Some of them are much faster than you would imagine, they have years of experience behind them and are very strategic.”

Andrea says it is an exciting time for the club as a quartet of squash superstars are set to showcase their skills in Nelson next month.

New Zealand champion and world number five Paul Coll will take on Peru’s Diago Elias in an exhibition match on December 18. Paul’s partner Nellie will also compete against

Marlborough’s Megan Craig in her return to the court. “Megan is a happy young mum and just coming back to squash, so she is very excited.”

Andrea says tickets are selling fast and are available at She says the Coll coup would not have been possible without the support of Nelson businesses.

“We are very proud off the region and all the hard work the club has done.”

Results of the 2018 Nelson Squash Masters:

Men’s Open
1st Richard Stephenson (Waimea)

Men’s Division 1
1st Andrew Kanara (Taneatua)

Men’s Division 2
1st Nick Carter (Nelson)

Men’s Division 3
1st Luke Crichton (Nelson)

Women’s Open
1st Christine Palmer (Waimea)

Women’s Division 1
1st Ishna Jacobs (Nelson)

Women’s Division 2
1st Mrs Liz Hay (Havelock North)