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History of Squash in NZ


Reflections at the end of the Millennium

Squash New Zealand has many rich memories and wonderful moments throughout its relative short history. There have been however some especially significant aspects and truly great performances achieved along the way. These include:

  • Four world championship titles and the Knighthood of the incomparable Dame Susan Devoy
  • Ross Norman's famous world title victory over Jahangir Khan
  • Dardir El Bakary's dynamic and long-lasting impact on the sport
  • The performance of New Zealand's teams, especially in the 15 year period between 1977 and 1992
  • Hosting of the three senior World Championships in 1971 (Men), 1983 (Men) and 1987 (Women)
  • The Masters World Championships in 1991 and the Junior Women's World Championships and the Junior Men's World Championships respectively in 1989 and 1994
  • Bruce Brownlee's win in the 1976 British Amateur Championships - the first major 'world' title (as it was known then) by a Kiwi
  • Stuart Davenport's unbeaten performances in New Zealand Teams and his climb to No 2 in the world rankings
  • Leilani Joyce's recent elevation to No 3 in the World and now clearly the second best women player produced by New Zealand
  • Donna Newton's shock win over Martine Le Moignan in the 1992 World Championships which brought New Zealand within grasp of (a so far) elusive World Teams title, for either men or women
  • New Zealand's first-ever victory over Australia in 1975 - led by the indomitable Trevor Colyer
  • No less than 13 players to achieve top 20 rankings in World Squash namely - Susan Devoy (1), Ross Norman (2), Stuart Davenport (2), Leilani Joyce (3), Robyn Brownlee (3) Bruce Brownlee (4), Joanne Williams (7), Donna Newton (11), Murray Lilley (10), Philippa Beams (12), Rory Watt (13), Paul Steel (15), Jade Wilson (18)
  • The epic Ross Norman - Stuart Davenport clash in the finals of the Interdistrict Teams Championships at Hamilton in 1986
  • Medals in 1998 to Philippa Beams and Leilani Joyce (Gold) in the inaugural world doubles and Glen Wilson and Sarah Cook (Bronze) in the Commonwealth Games
  • The late Jade Wilson's World title victory at the 1995 Junior Championships
  • British Under 23 titles to Stuart Davenport and Annette Owen
  • The introduction of the sport to New Zealanders as early as 1919 (or even before) by Herbert N. Watson and the initial establishment of the national association in 1932
  • The unique infrastructure developed by  'club squash'
  • The establishment of a unique grading system, which no other country has been able to successfully emulate
  • Purchase of the New Zealand Squash Centre (now Club Kelburn) in 1978 - a significant financial platform to the sport ever since
  • The research undertaken at the time and subsequent 'Crellin Report' in 1994 that created the climate for the major directional changes now underway for the sport,  to meet the future and the new millennium
  • The continued success and popularity of the National Graded Teams Event
  • The outstanding contribution to New Zealand and World Squash by Murray Day (OBE) and Susie Simcock
  • Fervent messiahs, including (among many others) Roy Haddon for his foresight and direction in the formative years, Tom Childs, Norm Coe, Bryden Clarke and Colin Brownlee and more latterly Mark Devoy for their unabashed promotion of the cause at all times
  • Sir David Beattie's long association with the sport as a player, North Shore Club President and dedicated Patron of the national body since 1981.

As a final reflection the immense contribution to our sport by Neven Barbour must be acknowledged His "squash history" remains an ongoing chapter however. Neven has made his mark in every facet of the sport, including, at different times:

  • National Champion and New Zealand Representative
  • Pioneer in Squash fitness programmes
  • New Zealand Team Manager
  • Players representative on national Management Committee
  • Developer of modern commercial complexes and facility advocate  Board Member, key proponent and ongoing watchdog over Club Kelburn
  • Co-Programme Manager and Board Member of Squash New Zealand High Performance Programme
  • Board Member and Chairman of Squash New Zealand
  • Squash New Zealand Representative to World Squash Federation
  • Managing Director of Squash Dynamics

Made a life member of Squash New Zealand in 1990, Neven has continued his enthusiasim for the development of the sport, and in many ways is now more involved than ever as the driving force of Squash Dynamics. In this role he is charged with the responsibility of the thrust into the leisure market foreshadowed in the Crellin Report earlier in the nineties, as vitally necessary for the sport to survive in the future. 

His undoubted business and marketing skills will be tested to the limit but there is nobody more capable or suited to do the job.


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