Westlake Boys’ High is the most successful squash school in New Zealand having captured the National title ten times since its inception in 1985.
Last year Westlake broke Tauranga Boys’ three-year stranglehold on National honours in a gripping finale. In a best of five rubber, fourth form student Matthew Lucente upset an older opponent in straight sets to win the tie 3-2. It was Westlake’s first national title in 15 years.
The resurgence of Westlake squash appears set to continue. Westlake recently won the Auckland title for a third consecutive year. Westlake cruised into the final with 5-0 victories over Glendowie College and Liston College. In the decider they faced Auckland Grammar School, a top five ranked opponent.
Grammar was no match for Westlake succumbing 5-0.
In the finals, Akil Afghan gave Westlake the first point with a comfortable 3-0 win. He was followed on court by team captain Rafa Yam who also won his match with ease with the same 3-0 score line. Up 2-0, Westlake needed one more win to clinch the title. Matthew Lucente got the job done with a 3-1 win over his opponent. David Matthews and Gabe Yam applied the icing on the cake and new team member Tom Taylor was unbeaten in the quarter and semi-finals.
Yam is really excited about the Westlake team.
“I think it’s the best team in the schools’ history. We are unbeaten and nobody has really challenged us. We are the top seeds for Nationals and will be disappointed if we lose,” he says.
Tauranga Boys’ have lost New Zealand’s top ranked junior Jamie Oakley as well as two leading players this year.
“Tauranga aren’t as strong whereas we have the same team. I hope this means Tauranga won’t be as strong and we will be better,” Yam says.
The Nationals are in August. Yam is the son of Manu Yam, a ten-times national champion in the Philippines. Rafa represented his native country for the first time this year in the Asian Champs. Seeded 12th, Philippines finished 10th.
“We were pleased with that result. Squash is more competitive in New Zealand, but in the Philippines they are more supportive towards the leading players. I like New Zealand, but I am from the Philippines,” Yam explains on his decision not to represent the Kiwis.
Yam is an A grade player. He is the North Island Under-17 champion and is ranked third in his age group nationally. There is only a dozen A grade junior players in New Zealand. The grading starts from E. He plays for the Belmont club who are currently first in the interclub competition.
Additionally Yam has a part in the school production, A Mid Summer Nights Dream.
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