Squash has taken Zac Millar to the Middle East this year, but it was his latest national age group title that put the widest smile on his face.
The Paraparaumu teenager, who trains with coach Nick Mita out of the Tawa and Mana clubs, was seeded number one for the nationals in Palmerston North earlier this month. He didn't disappoint, defeating Todd Redman 12-10, 11-7, 11-8 in the boys' under-19 final.
Millar has now won six national titles since the under-11 level.
"I just took it one game at a time and everything just flowed," he said. "Three sets to none [over Redman] sounds easy but it was very close, he's a good player. I was down 10-8 in the first but in the third set I was really dominant."
Mita likes what he sees and says Millar will keep improving.
"He's got the best movement of any player his age in the country and he's very, very strong."
Millar, who has one more year as a junior player, is ranked 11th in the country for seniors. He has school exams to focus on now but will continue to train hard this summer.
"My goal was to finish the year as the number one junior, and hopefully I've done that. It's been a pretty decent year, I've worked hard."
In July he was part of a four-strong New Zealand side that competed at the junior worlds in Qatar. He won the consolation plate, and the team finished ninth overall, in what he describes as a valuable learning experience that can only help his game.
Another of Mita's charges, Kobe Fleming, from Whitby, lost a five-set heartbreaker in the under-11 final in Palmerston North. Mita says Fleming was down two sets to none, came storming back but was unable to finish it off in the fifth.
Wellington had a stellar nationals, winning a number of grades and claiming the boys' teams title, while finishing second in the girls' section.
- Kapi-Mana News