Matthew Lucente hasn’t lost a secondary schools squash match since he was in year 9.
The Westlake Boys’ High School student is the top ranked Under-19 player in the country and recently guided his college to a fourth consecutive National Secondary Schools Championship.
Westlake Boys’ is the most successful squash school in New Zealand having captured the national title 12 times since its inception in 1985.
Westlake beat hosts Palmerston North Boys’ High School 4-1 in the semi-final and Auckland Grammar School 3-0 in the decider, electing not to play the final two rubbers. Lucente explained the success of the team.
“We’ve all played and trained together for a little while now. In addition to playing for our school, we play club together and Gabe Yam and I have played for our country.”
In fact Lucente and Yam (ranked second U19 player in NZ) only returned from Chennai, India two days prior to nationals. They were members of the New Zealand team at the Junior World Championships. New Zealand finished 10th in the teams event (matching their pre-tournament seeding) while Lucente cracked the Top 32 in the singles.
“We got beaten by the USA in the Round of 16 which was a match we expected to win, but they got third in the end so all credit to them. I lost to an Egyptian in the singles. The Egyptian players are next level. The top four players were all from Egypt and played with a speed and skill that’s next level,” Lucente acclaimed.
Westlake hardly raised a sweat in breezing through pool play at Nationals, but Auckland Grammar in the final was more difficult assignment than the final scoreline suggested.
“Grammar is a pretty solid team. They’ve got a lot of depth and have challenged us all season,” Lucente asserted.
Tauranga Boys’ College finished third.
The most challenging and personally memorable National title for Lucente was in 2015. That year, Westlake broke Tauranga Boys’ three-year stranglehold on National honours in a gripping finale. In a best of five rubbers, Lucente (then a Year 10) upset an older opponent in straight sets to win the tie 3-2. It was Westlake’s first national title in 15 years.
In September, Lucente will seek greater challenges when he heads to the US for further squad and high school education.
Jamie Oakley from Tauranga Boys’ College who played in that 2015 National final is presently stateside. Jamie is the son of legendary squash player, Dame Susan Devoy.
Napier Girls’ High School (pictured right) won the Senior Girls competition, with Palmerston North Girls’ High School second and Hamilton Girls’ High School third. Wairarapa College won the co-ed title.
Trans-Tasman tournament team
Five-player senior boys and girls and senior boys and girls teams were named to play in the upcoming Trans-Tasman series with Australia.
Temwa Chilese (St Pauls Collegiate)
Willz Donnelly (Gisborne Boys High School) – captain
Glenn Templeton ( Katikati College)
Kobe Fleming (Hutt International Boys College)
Riley Vette-Blomquist (Whangarei Boys High School)
Non Travelling Reserve - Campbell Webster (Hutt International Boys College)
Winona-Jo Joyce (Hastings Girls High School))
Annaleise Faint (Palmerston North Girls High School) - captain
Amelia Wadsworth (Marlborough Girls College)
Jess Dean (Napier Girls High School)
Leonie Marshall (Marlborough Girls College)
Non Travelling Reserve – Anna Moselyn (Kamo College)
Mason Smales (Auckland Grammar School)
Joe Smythe (Tauranga Boys College)
Apa Fatialofa (Auckland Grammar School)
Ben McCurran (Tauranga Boys College)
Braedyn Henderson (Matamata College)
Non Travelling Reserve – Tom Marshall (Marlborough Boys College)
Jena Gregory (Havelock North High School)
Diana Galloway (Hutt Valley High School)
Katie Templeton (Katikati College)
Shea Ferguson (Whangarei Girls High School)
Anne Leakey (Orewa College)
Non-Travelling Reserve – Caitlin Millard (Christchurch Girls High School
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