INGHAM’S brightest rising squash stars are making their mark once again – this time at the 2021 Queensland Junior Squash Championships held in Cairns over the school holidays.
Six junior players from the Ingham Squash Association were selected in the Northern Region Redbacks team, which came home with the state championship trophy for the third year in a row, after a previous 16-year domination by the Brisbane region.
Lachlan Erba, Jack Nash, Mackenzie Rhodes, Kara Nash, Ally Rhodes and Liam Fascetti were an integral part of the Redbacks team making up the 38-player squad from Cairns to Mackay.
The competition saw the best in the state in the under 11, under 13, under 15, under 17 and under 19 age divisions, from three regions in the state – Northern Redbacks, Brisbane Vipers and Southern Storm with Central Bulls unable to field a team.
The Northern contingent cleaned up over the week-long tournament, with Ingham’s Liam Fascetti, Ally Rhodes and Kara Nash, coming away state champions, winning the trophy in the under 15 teams’ event, and Lachlan Erba and Mackenzie Rhodes members of the winning under 17 northern team.
All Ingham juniors played strongly in both the singles and doubles matches in the teams’ event and continued their success in the individual championships.
Liam Fascetti, aged 13, came into the competition ranked as number six, playing extraordinary squash, he won his way to the semi-finals by knocking out the number three seed.
Unfortunately, it was a harder match in the semis with Fascetti up against the number two seed, and although not triumphant, he was gallant in defeat and went on to lose a hard fought five setter in the position three and four match against his Northern archrival, finishing in at number four in the state.
His outstanding performance over the tournament gained him recognition as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for the Northern Region, a special achievement for this budding young talent, who still has another year in the under 15 division.
Ally Rhodes, aged 14, came into the girls under 15 competition ranked second in the state.
Rhodes had been out of action from an operation which only just saw her return to the court for training.
While making the semi-finals she was unable to come away with the win going down to the number three seed.
Rhodes then lost to fellow Northerner, Hannah O’Toole from Townsville, in an epic five setter match, finishing the tournament in a credible fourth position.
Newcomer to the Redbacks, Kara Nash,13, played in the under 15 division, against a much older and more experienced field, but despite that and to her credit, she played hard making the most of her first state championships appearance and coming away with valuable skills to improve her game – Nash finished 16th overall.
Big brother, Jack Nash, 15, also at his first state championships, was determined to put his training into practice in the highly contested under 17 event, never giving up and playing hard in all of his games, finishing 12th in the state.
Nash had the opportunity to play in the teams’ event with the Southern Storm team who adopted him to strengthen their numbers.
Mackenzie Rhodes, playing in the under 17 round robin event, set her sights on improving her ranking from the tournament.
Rhodes ranked number six, was placed in a tough pool, matched up against the number two and three seeds, however she won her last match to retain her sixth position.
Lachlan Erba, 15, was a force to be reckoned with in the boys under 17 event.
Fit and hitting the ball strong this year, Erba was determined to finish in the top three to give him a chance to make the Queensland side.
After playing flawless squash, he made it into the semi-finals but went down to the number three seed.
He redeemed himself in the next game, winning third place in his division with a straight three setter win and reaching his goal of securing a spot in the Queensland team.
Erba along with Rhodes (Ally) and Fascetti were named in the Queensland Sharks team at the conclusion of the tournament, adding to their championship success.
The trio are already hard at work training in preparation for the Australian Junior Squash Championships which will be held in Canberra later this year.
Ingham Squash secretary Kim DiBella said: ‘We are so proud of our junior players and the representative opportunities they have been able to experience through squash, especially those selected in the Queensland team.
‘We congratulate all our players, and the Ingham squash community looks forward to hearing about their future successes.’
If your child is interested in playing squash, junior training is on Tuesday afternoons after school and junior fixtures are played on Friday afternoons.
Register your interest through the Ingham Squash Facebook page, pop into the courts or call Chris on 0429 260 806.