In June Ben Pettit (Hutt International Boys' School) became the youngest New Zealand Open Men's Tenpin bowling champion after he bowled his way to victory as a 13-year old in Auckland.
Following a successful trip to Tasmania, adding the Australian Under-14 National title to his burgeoning trophy haul, Ben has just bowled his first perfect game. A perfect game in Tenpin bowling is achieved with a score of 300. That is bowling 12 strikes in a row: one strike in each of the first nine frames, and three more in the tenth frame.
At 14 years and 19 days old, Ben is the youngest individual in New Zealand to accomplish the feat, replacing the previous record held by Osiris Cave who was 14 years and 10 months old when he bowled his 300 in January at Tenpin Tauranga. Ben’s previous best was 279.
Ben’s first 300 happened on August 14 at Pins Lincoln in Auckland. He repeated the feat on Sunday for good measure too.
“The first nine shots were all good shots. The tenth shot was okay but the 11th was my worst of the whole tournament,” Ben recalled.
“I kept my ball inside way too far and hit the wrong side of the front pin. The last pin to fall was the sixth pin on the right side. It was a really lucky shot.
“When I bowled nine strikes in a row a crowd started to gather. I was really nervous prior to the last shot. I had a drink of water, ordered a rerack which is a resetting of the pins, and took my shot. It was perfect.
“It’s interesting because I was bowling in Lanes 23 and 24 which are the hardest in the alley. They have a lot of friction and the ball comes back more so you have to be very precise.
“I was more happy with my second 300 because they were all good shots. The first one was more of a relief to have done it.”
When a 300 happens, to be officially registered, the ball and every pin has to be measured before the completion of paperwork. The pins have to be ten ounces or below.
“One of the pins was exactly ten ounces. Had it been 0.01 ounces heavier my 300 wouldn’t have counted.”
Since records started in 1977 there have been 148 perfect scores. Steve Furst bowled the first 300 on June 23, 1977 in New Lynn, Auckland. It took 15 years until Paul McElroy joined him in 1992. Graham Parkins was the first of 20 individuals to bowl 300 in Wellington in 1994.
The record for most 300 scores ironically belongs to Ben’s coach Chris Haynes who bowled seven between 2015 and 2019. Remarkably he delivered three on October 27, 2015.
Ben received $350 for his perfect game and for winning the competition. His next goal is an 800 series which is over three games with a 267 average. He has bowled a 764.
Read our first story with Ben after his National title success in June here: https://www.collegesportmedia.co.nz/other/little-ben-big-in-tenpin-bowling
*After his National title success he appeared on Stuff, The Rock, and bowled against Nick Mills and Adam Cooper from Newstalk ZB Sport.
There were some nervous moments, but the young Otumoetai College team pulled through to win their maiden NZSS Squash Championships Girls title this past weekend.
The team consisting of number one seed Erin Wylie (year 9), and two sets of sisters, Gen (year 9) and Hope Kennerley (year 10) and Mia (year 9) and Kayla (year 12) Bowles, won the tournament on the players’ home club court at the Susan Devoy Squash Centre.
“It was really exiting to win this tournament at home,” said Erin, “and extra special for us to win for the first time in our own surroundings, with family and friends able to come able to come and support us.
“It was very helpful on court as well, because we knew how hard to hit the ball to get it to the back.”
32 teams representing 27 school entered the boys tournament and 20 teams from 19 schools took part in the girls draw over three days for the 37th annual NZSS tournament.
Local schools did the double, with Tauranga Boys’ College 1 winning the Boys title.
The format of the tournament saw schools play the best of five singles games against each other per tie – thus making it a true team tournament.
Otumoetai College beat Takapuna Grammar School 3-2 in the girls’ final tie on Sunday afternoon, after going up 2-0 but conceding the next two matches to make it 2-2. Gen Kennerley won the final match and Otumoetai were celebrating.
Erin Wylie’s father Darren was the team’s coach for the weekend and the Kennerley’s mother Jacinta was team manager. Darren said that it was a truly team effort. “At one stage or another throughout the tournament a different player had to pull out it out for us and every time that player came through for us.
“For example, in our semi-final on Saturday against Havelock North High School, it came to the last player, with Kayla Bowles winning her match and we won 3-2.”
“In the final, Gen Kennerley was our last player, but in the end she won comfortably and we won 3-2.”
The matches are played one after another, not concurrently, so there is a fair bit of support thrown in there by teammates throughout each match that typically run for about half an hour. “But it feels like a long time when you are watching it,” said Darren.
Otumoetai beat St Paul’s Colleigate Hamilton on Friday, then Orewa College on Saturday, before their semi-final and final wins over Havelock North and Takapuna respectively.
The draw was based on the seedings of the schools, which in turn is calculated on the grade ranks of the players. Otumoetai’s No. 1 Erin is a B1 grade player, Hope and Gen are B2s, Kayla is a C1 and Mia is a J3.
Otumoetai were ranked number two, behind top seeds Westlake Girls’ High School, who lost to fifth seed Takapuna Girls’ Grammar 4-1 in the other semi-final.
At the conclusion of the tournament, four NZSS teams were selected – Senior Boys, Senior Girls, Junior Boys, Junior Girls (see names below).
Erin was selected in the Junior Girls team. Most years this team plays in Australia, but Covid has put paid to that at the moment, so for the second straight year this year’s selection is a paper team only.
The NZSS Junior Girls team that was selected at the conclusion of the tournament, L-R: Mackenzie Tait (Wairarapa College), Ella Hill (Tauranga Girls' College), Erin Wyllie (Otumoetai College), Justine Pausch (Takapuna Grammar School), Lucy Cadness-Aspinall (Westlake Girls' High School), Aishah Lotfy (Westlake Girls' High School)
Erin has been playing squash since she was seven.
Last year Susan Devoy was Erin’s Bay of Plenty Women’s C Grade coach, in their tournament in Napier. With Devoy’s mentoring, Erin won all her 10 matches in the tournament.
This September Erin and Hope Kennerly will be representing BoP’s Women’s B Grade team in Invercargill.
Following that there are the Nationals in Christchurch in October.
The school players all play interclub club squash in the Grade competition (all ages) on Monday nights throughout the winter and Autumn, for the Devoy Squash and Fitness club.
Erin is on court more days than not. “I usually play five times a week. Once on Monday nights in club squash, once in a coaching lesson match with coach Becky Clarke and a couple more times with teammates.”
For Erin, squash is her number one sport, but she has also played several other sports, including volleyball and tennis.
HEAD have recently come on board as a sponsor for Erin, with rackets, bags and other gear to help her pursue her squash future.
She follows New Zealand’s best players. “I like to watch Paul Coll and Joelle King play squash – they are the best players in New Zealand and among the best in the world and the players us juniors can look up to and aspire to emulate when we are older.”
For now, Erin and her Otumoetai College teammates have a few years up their sleeves to keep making their marks in the game, for school, club and province.
The NZSS Squash team for 2021 is:
Apa Fatialofa (captain) - Auckland Grammar School
Joseph Smythe - Tauranga Boys College
Tarin Love - Mt Albert Grammar School
Tom Marshall - Marlborough Boys College
Luke Steyn - Taupo Nui-a-tia
Braedyn Henderson - Matamata College
Jena Gregory (captain) - Havelock North High School
Sophie Hodges - Hamilton Girls High School
Anne Leakey - Orewa College
Katie Templeton - Katikati College
Abbie Holmes - Sacred Heart College New Plymouth
Kiera Thompson - Havelock North High School
Jack Frisken - Marlborough Boys College
Reece Holmes - Hawera High School
Riley McCracken - Mt Albert Grammar School
Cassius Leevey - Francis Douglas Memorial College
Finn Goodsen - Auckland Grammar School
Josh Laing - Whangarei Boys High School
Mackenzie Tait - Wairarapa College
Ella Hill - Tauranga Girls College
Erin Wyllie - Otumoetai College
Justine Pausch - Takapuna Grammar School
Lucy Cadness-Aspinall - Westlake Girls High School
Aishah Lotfy - Westlake Girls High School
NZSS Squash Championships: Last 10 winning schools
2021: Otumoetai College
2020: Whangarei Girls' High School
2019: Whangarei Girls' High School
2018 Napier Girls' High School
2017 Palmerston North Girls' High
2016 Palmerston North Girls' High
2015 Palmerston North Girls' High
2014 Epsom Girls’ Grammar School
2013 Epsom Girls’ Grammar School
2012 Epsom Girls’ Grammar School
2021: Tauranga Boys' College
2020: Mount Albert Grammar School
2019: Mount Albert Grammar School
2018 Westlake Boys' High School
2017 Westlake Boys' High School
2016 Westlake Boys' High School
2015 Westlake Boys' High School
2014 Tauranga Boys’ College
2013 Tauranga Boys’ College
2012 Tauranga Boys’ College
Interview and story by Steven White, for College Sport Media, August 2021.
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand