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More than 170 players from the 11-year-old age group to under-19s will start playing individual events at the Christchurch Squash Club on Friday, with the finals scheduled for Sunday, before the two-day team events get under way on Monday.
Auckland’s Elijah Thomas, 17, who is coached by New Zealand’s former world champion Carol Owens, is a leading contender in the main title with a professional world ranking of 259.
Second seed Glenn Templeton (Bay of Plenty) is the defending champion after beating Thomas in last year’s final. Their rematch is anticipated on Sunday.
Northland’s Riley-Jack Vette-Blomquist, Leo Fatialofa (Auckland) and Joe Smythe (BOP) will try to disrupt the established order, while Blenheim’s Henry Moran and Jack Condor (Auckland) will add extra depth to a strong under-19 draw.
The favourite in the women’s under-19 draw is top seed Natalie Sayes, a 16-year-old from Auckland ranked 319 in the world, while her provincial teammate and second seed Ella Lash, 15, is also considered to have a long and successful career.