Southland teenager Mitchell Kempton set for first taste of international squash in NZ under-19 team

Southland squash player Mitchell Kempton, 17, under the watchful eye of coach Nick Mita.
Robyn Edie/Fairfax NZ

Southland squash player Mitchell Kempton, 17, under the watchful eye of coach Nick Mita.

Southland's Mitchell Kempton is set for his first taste of international squash.

The 17-year-old has continued his meteoric rise from weekend warrior to be named in the New Zealand under-19 team to face Australia in the Trans-Tasman Junior series.

National selection was a nice surprise for the year 13 student.

Southland squash player Mitchell Kempton has made the NZ under-19 team to play Australia.
Robyn Edie/Fairfax NZ

Southland squash player Mitchell Kempton has made the NZ under-19 team to play Australia.

"It didn't really sink in for a while and it still hasn't really," he said.

READ MORE: Future star: Mitchell Kempton

"It is pretty cool. It was something I have been working towards for a while."

"It will be something new, I think we have a good chance, they have won it the last couple of years, it should be good."

The Southland Boys' High School student has a hectic schedule as he juggles his studies and sport.

"It is real tough, I have already had a few weeks off and a couple more in the last four weeks, so it is trying to balance it all out, it makes things a bit difficult," he said.

Kempton will travel to Auckland on March 28 for a New Zealand training camp and a tournament, before a week of training in Wellington, followed by another visit to Auckland for the important Oceania Junior Championships and the Trans-Tasman series.

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"It is pretty flat out," he said.

"The Oceanias are a big tournament for me, and that is a selection tournament to make the team for the World Junior Championships."

At the conclusion of the Auckland tournaments he will compete in the NZ Junior Open in Cambridge and the Bay of Plenty Open, which both double as selection tournaments too.

The Makarewa player is proud to gain New Zealand selection from Southland.

"There were no other South Islanders in contention, that is pretty cool and considering how small the province is, being able to mix it with the top North Islanders is pretty cool," he said.

The teenager is hoping that some excellent performances in the months ahead will help him gain selection for the World Junior Championships tournament in Tauranga in July.

Kempton has been training in both Southland and Wellington over summer under New Zealand High Performance coach Nick Mita, in order to get his fitness up to speed in preparation for the busy month ahead. 

The Southland player finished fifth at the NZ Junior Open last year, which helped to catapult him into the running for New Zealand selection.

Mita is pleased with the Kempton's progress, especially coming from a smaller province like Southland.

"Mitch has had a great year, he has done really well because he has come from about two years ago being maybe 24th to 32nd ranked to now being in the top two in the country for the under-19," Mita said.

"He is a great kid, he has got work ethic and he really wants it, he has put in the yards, he travels and comes up to Wellington, where a lot of the players I have are among the top players in NZ and he gets to train with them as well."

"Being down in Southland it is hard, he is the top senior man and junior, competition wise he has to travel away to get that so that becomes quite expensive."

"Realistically it was just a dream to represent New Zealand and now it has become a reality for him, which is pretty special."

 - Stuff

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