Three years of preparation and hard slog is what has culminated in a huge year in 2017 for the North Shore Squash Club. It was during 2014 that North Shore were announced as the host venue for the squash competition during the World Masters Games, the largest multi-sport event in the world, to be held in Auckland in April 2017. Years of planning and collaboration between the club, Squash NZ, Squash Auckland, and WMG, has made the instantly recognisable club located on Lake Pupuke one of the most successful and thriving clubs in the country.
2016-17 saw the North Shore Squash Club undergo major renovations and upgrades in preparation for the one of the biggest tournaments ever to be held in the country. With $400k spent on redeveloping the lounge, replacing joinery, repairing the roof, painting and installing new carpet throughout the whole club, adding a new conservatory to take advantage of the stunning view from the balcony, installing new showers and a redevelopment of the medical rooms, the club is now a bright, fresh and welcoming place perfectly suited to hosting events at all levels, from international to club.
Entry numbers for the event exceeded all expectations with the club hosting 460 players from 21 countries who competed over eight and a half days from the 22nd-29th April. Games started at 8am and final games were scheduled to 9pm each day with all 7 courts in action. The positive feedback from competitors, spectators and supporters was heard through all forms of media for months after - and justifiably so.
Within three weeks of the World Masters Games finishing, the club was straight back into action holding their North Shore Open, which included Men’s and Women’s $5k PSA draws attracting players from as far away as Scotland. Once again the player feedback was unanimously positive with many looking forward to a return visit.
North Shore has ten membership options and is continually exploring avenues to continue the club’s growth and increase participation in the sport. The club recently signed up two new corporate members which between them has added another twenty more people to the club. The club also has a casual pay-to-play option set up through iSquash which is catering for a growing market and popular with those that still want to occasionally enjoy a game without the commitment of a membership. All players who participate in assisting with programmes, club nights and SuperChamps coaching are encouraged to attend the coaching modules from the Squash NZ Coach Development Framework.
The club provides a gluttony of opportunities and programmes for every possible type of player which includes Business House, Ladies Night Business House, Junior Club Night, Senior Club Night, Junior Development Squad, Junior Academy, Interclub (Spring, Winter, Autumn and Doubles), SuperChamps, The Smithy Classic, Fun Doubles, Squash 57 and other club tournaments.
2016 saw the introduction of Ladies Night which has continued to go from strength to strength. It is made up of mainly beginners and lower graded players with many who have started at Ladies Night going on to playing interclub and tournaments, with a group even forming an F Grade Superchamps team which finished second in the regional competition.
Junior members receive additional support with a number of options available whether they want to progress their game or just have fun with their friends. Junior Club Night on Fridays has coaches for all of the sessions, ably assisted by senior players and top juniors. For those more serious there is the Development Squad, or for the top juniors the Academy. Of the eight juniors at present in the Academy, three were a part of the Auckland Junior team to represent the district at Junior Nationals this season in Christchurch.
The club has strong links with schools in the area with a large number of them, including Westlake Girls, Westlake Boys, Carmel College, and Murrays Bay Intermediate, using the club courts to train their squash teams. The Intermediate Zone Day and Auckland Secondary Schools Teams squash competition are also held annually at the club.
The club’s website is regularly monitored to ensure it has new, relevant and up-to-date information, as well as promoting club news and activities and celebrating member achievements. A club newsletter goes out through Mailchimp each week, and Facebook is constantly updated. The club also leverages having the hospital across the road by using it to promote upcoming club events and activities to staff.
One of the major driving forces of the clubs’ success is the excellent group of volunteers that enable it to run efficiently and effectively, made up of the Club Committee, coaches and club members. These volunteers attend regular working bees held at the club and grounds, and many of the coaches involved in their programs and those that assist with programmes do so on their own time. Managing all these groups is the Club Manager Sharon Crawford. The club’s burgeoning membership numbers since she began in 2014 (nearly double and currently just over 400) after coming to the club following a number of years as the District Administrator for Squash Northland, is certainly no minor coincidence.
Squash New Zealand congratulates North Shore Squash Club for overcoming extremely tough competition from around the country to win the 2017 Club of the Year Award