Steven Turrell reckons his worst sporting moment came last weekend, but that is far from an indication of how the rising Marlborough squash star has performed in 2012.
A year 13 student at Marlborough Boys' College, 17-year-old Steven was in the MBC A team which finished one spot above their seeding to place a creditable seventh out of 31 teams at the New Zealand Secondary Schools national tournament in Tauranga.
Playing in the highly-competitive No 2 spot, he won three of five games and was one of the team's best-performed members, along with No 1 Chas Craig.
Despite being "pretty pleased" with his effort, Steven was disappointed to lose an nail-biting clash when MBC narrowly went down to Palmerston North Boys' High.
"I probably should have won that match. It was two games-all and if I had won we would have played-off for fifth and sixth, instead of seventh and eighth. I ended up losing 18-16 in the fifth. I had two match points but I threw them away. It really sucked."
Although fifth would have sounded better than seventh, it was still one of MBC's best results at nationals in several years and he said they were all pleased with where they ended up.
"Every other year we've played below our seeding, so to be seeded in the top half and beat that seeding is pretty amazing. This year we've put in a lot of hard work and that seems to have made a difference because everyone was playing above their level."
It isn't the only success Steven has been involved with this year, either. MBC also won the Tasman Secondary Schools competition for the first time and, after a six-year wait, the Marlborough junior team lifted the coveted Rai Shield off Nelson. He reckoned the latter was particularly special, given how long it had been since a Marlborough victory and the fact their best player (Craig) was not able to play.
The youngest of four children, Steven was born in Canberra, Australia, but crossed the ditch as a toddler when his family moved back to New Zealand. After stints in Auckland and Wellington, the family shifted to Blenheim, the hometown of his mum Sharolyn, when he was eight.
At that stage, cricket and football were his two sporting passions and up until a few years ago he was an age-group rep in both. He continues to play football as a member of the Blenheim Valley Colts division one side, but about three years ago he gave cricket the flick and squash took over.
Before that, the sport was very much a part-time hobby. But, thanks largely to some help from his dad Lance and the realisation he had a bit of a knack for the game, it quickly became much more.
"I played squash with dad a little bit when I was young and I would have a hit with him every now and then, but I didn't really start playing until year 10. I started doing these weekend training sessions and playing games and I've just carried on from there."
His natural talent was immediately evident when he won the E grade and below tournament, a victory he still describes as one of his most memorable. From there he has steadily risen up the grades to become a B2 graded player, overtaking dad, a C1, in the process. After initially playing division one interclub, he has played in the premier ranks for the last year and a half and at the start of this year was B grade champion at the Marlborough Open.
While he admits there were extra hours put in prior to schools nationals, the laidback teenager is not the type who lives and breathes his sport and said he just plays because he enjoys it and has a slice of natural talent.
"It keeps you fit, it's a social game and it's a good run around. Also, when you get up to the higher levels it's enjoyable to have good long battles with people around the same grading as you. I've just kept at it. I don't train a lot . . . I usually play just once or twice a week."
An aspiring software developer, Steven plans to study computer science at university next year. In his spare time he can be found honing his guitar and drum skills, either on his own at home or with a band he has formed with three friends from school.
As for his future in squash, he hopes to continue playing and is aiming to reach B1 next year. Beyond that he has no firm goals, given how much time his studies will take up in the next few years, but did admit attaining an A grade ranking one day would be nice.
"It would be good to get to A grade one day, but I don't see it coming anytime soon unless I really try and go for it and actually do the training I would need to do."
Name: Steven Turrell.
Born: Canberra, Australia, October 20, 1994.
Educated: Churton Park Primary (Wellington), Springlands Primary, Bohally Intermediate, Marlborough Boys' College.
Earliest sporting hero: Bruce Edgar (first cricket coach in Wellington).
Latest sporting hero: Lionel Messi.
Must-watch TV programme: Big Bang Theory.
Must-have food: Chilli Con Carne.
What's hot on your MP3 player (walkman/stereo): Alter Bridge, Foo Fighters, Green Day, Rise Against, The Who.
Favourite holiday spot: Gold Coast.
Superstitions: Must always wear a sweatband when playing squash.
Pet hates: Long-distance car travel.
Fashion crime: Socks and sandals.
Favourite sporting moment: Being in the winning team for the Rai Shield against Nelson. The first Marlborough team to win it in six years.
Worst sporting moment: Losing a game 18-16 in the fifth at the Secondary School Nationals Championships that relegated our team to playoff for 7th/8th rather than 5th/6th.
In five years I'll be: Developing computer software after graduating with a computer science degree.
- The Marlborough Express