* "What's On" noticeboards debut
* Tennis: Special events, club days and comps
* Squash: Women in Squash fun, club nights
* Pilates on the Court: book online
* Matt Taylor: The go to guy
* Facility hireage
We now have "What's On" noticeboards upstairs in the clubroom and downstairs behind the squash courts.
Keep an eye on the noticeboards for daily times of the organised activities on at the club week to week; they will give you a heads-up if you've come in for a casual hit and haven't been keeping up to date with the booking calendar / newsletter etc. If there's any tennis activity on there that you'd like to sign up for please email Simon, email@example.com.
Happy winners at last weekend's Aus Open social mixed doubles event Jack McKinney and Kate Clausen, best-dressed on the day.
Also coming soon, graded Fast Fours business house comp and club champs; more info over coming weeks.
Junior club night recommences this Friday 8 February.
Junior Saturday and Sunday comps resume from Saturday, 9 February. Draws are here: https://tennis.org.nz/InterclubCompetitionGradesList.asp?cnID=3005
Junior coaching clinics are running now. Contact club professional David Mustard for more info.
No excuses not to join us for some social and friendly match play on Thursday night from 6.30pm or on Sunday afternoon from 1 to 3pm. New members welcome.
About a dozen women joined the first day of our six week Women in Squash programme last Wednesday. There were lots of laughs as they raced around the courts mixed with a bit of frustration when skills weren't quite up to novices' expectations.
Senior club night starts at 6.30pm on Thursdays. Come along and meet fellow club members. We rotate games every 10-15 minutes
Join Jarrod and his team on Friday nights from 4pm to 6pm for coaching, fun games and just a little bit of competition.
Pilates classes are held on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9.30am and Saturdays at 10am.
Need to speak with Pia? Call her on 029 6277 437
5 classes for $50 - Introductory Offer.
"Physical fitness is the first requisite of happiness” Joseph Pilates
Peter Cross talks to our Cousins Shield captain and the person whose re-introduced Herne Bay squash leagues. Photos by Dave Gregory.
Matt Taylor is one of those rare people who make things happen. Others; and I include myself in this number, come up with grandiose schemes that never see the light of day. Matt is different. Recently he noticed that fewer members are using the squash courts and wondered what he could do about it. He decided to revive the squash leagues he’d run a while back that got 90 members playing an extra three or four matches a month. There was an announcement in the newsletter a couple of weeks ago and so far the uptake has been encouraging: 39 players ranging from class acts like Bryce and Jared to rubbish like your correspondent. You could think of it as a human compost heap where the good stuff rises to the surface and the stuff you put on your garden sinks or stays at the bottom. This initiative dovetails nicely with George Crosby giving the kiss of life and resuscitating Club nights on Thursdays. It’s a great way to meet and play against members you haven’t met.
Matt Taylor and Ken Henry
I’d wanted to interview Matt for this series for a while now and the launch of the new leagues seemed perfect. We arranged to meet. Then, at short notice, I was asked to write something about our Cousins Shield team who are being nominated for Squash Auckland’s team of the year. Needing facts and figures I phoned around and was told that Matt was the person to go to. I did and he agreed to send over some bullet points of how the team had got on over the years. A few hours later back came a couple of flawless paragraphs that not only contained the team’s considerable achievements but also a concise tribute to guys, past and present, who have brought so much prestige to our club. Job over. This is what we submitted:
If this award was given for team of the decade rather than team of the year there is no question that the Herne Bay and Ponsonby Cousins Shields team would win by a country mile.
Since 2008 this remarkable group have made eight finals winning this nationwide trophy three times in 2008, 2011, 2013 are current runners up and have come second a total of five times and third twice. No other team has come close to matching this track record during this period. The club has also successfully hosted the tournament in 2011 & 2017 giving us an opportunity to showcase our excellent facilities.
The team has been built around a loyal core of players – Matt Taylor, Chris Lloyd, Jared Conning, George Crosby, Matiu Te Kani McQueen, with Bryce Redman and Ed Dromgool joining the team in recent years. With overseas based pro, Campbell Grayson joining us when it fits his busy tournament schedule.
The current as well as previous teams share a passion for the tournament, understand its rich history and have built a tight knit team culture, where playing for each other and the club is more important than individual glory.
We needed more stuff for a second box so I added:
These guys are brilliant ambassadors not only for our club but also the Auckland squash community. They are a source of pride for our members and provide us with something to brag about when selling the club to prospective experienced or novice players. If only Dame Susan Devoy* gave birth to girls rather than boys this team would be the current holders of the Cousins Shield and likely to be for the foreseeable future.
*The current Devoy team includes three of Dame Susan’s four sons.
So when we finally caught up it was the Cousins Shield team that we mostly talked about.
It’s hardly a surprise to discover that Matt comes from a sporting family. Andrew, Matt’s elder brother by a decade was an A grader, his sister Fiona (Fi) was a top B grader and is still pretty useful and remarkably their mother, who only picked up a racket when she turned forty, got to C1. Their father was a rugby man who went on to be president of two rugby clubs and a golf club. He taught his son that clubs only thrive if members take an active part. He led by example doing the hard yards fund raising and all the other thankless and unseen tasks required to keep a club alive. Or as Matt says: “If people don’t put the effort in a club just dies.” The Taylors were a competitive family who hated losing but were and are dignified winners and losers.
After winning three New Zealand age group titles at Under 13 (x2) & Under 15, Matt turned his back on squash aged 14 and didn’t lift a racket again until he was 22. During the interim surfing was his thing; that is surfing the ocean waves rather than the internet. He studied geography at Otago before coming up to Auckland to do a master’s in developing world studies. But he was tired of studying and almost by accident got a job at an advertising agency and before long morphed into a copywriter. Copywriters are paid to write prose readers rarely pay to read or, in the case of adverts, actively avoid looking at. So you need to be able to get over messages in short snappy sentences or pictures and there is no room for waffle. I’m guessing that this training accounts for Matt’s considerable public speaking skills. Whether he’s speaking on behalf of his team or thanking Paul Coll for entertaining us there isn’t a wasted word and the sentiments he conveys are invariably spot on.
Matt’s uncle, Frank Mahy, was a long time Ponsonby/Herne Bay squash member. As was his aunty Helen, who was Herne Bay tennis club champion back in the early 1970’s. Frank was a great mate of ex-president Ken Henry and had that mentioned to him that Matt was now in Auckland. Ken organised a hit at the new club, which almost fully finished. And soon after was recruited into the B grade interclub team.
The following year, the club entered the Cousins Shield tournament and made two consecutive finals in 1999 and 2000 – losing the first 3-1 to Browns Bay and the second 3-2 to Royal Oak.
“I’d rather be involved with a winning team than playing in a losing one.”
In 2006 Matt returned to Auckland after a four year stint in Australia. He rejoined the club and discovered that the A grade boys had moved on. Matt encouraged the committee to reinstate free A grade memberships (traditional at almost every club around New Zealand) and then made it his mission to rebuild A grade numbers.
Considering A graders could go anywhere I was keen to know how he managed to attract them to Herne Bay. “I just asked them.” He said. But he didn’t just ask anyone.
The people he recruited needed to be ‘good guys’ that would fit the club and buy into the team’s shared values. “We have an unwritten rule,” Matt told me, “That once you join Herne Bay you never play for anyone else unless you move cities.”
As you can see from the team of the year nomination above it wasn’t long before the team had gelled and were flying. Their success since can be likened to the ongoing success of the All Blacks under Steve Hansen or Manchester United during Fergie’s era.
Few people gave them much chance of winning the Cousins Shield this year, and were originally seeded third, but they still made the final as they have almost every year in the past decade. The habit of winning breeds an inner belief which means they generally win matches that are finely balanced.
Part of this ongoing success is due Shayne Hubert’s generous sponsorship of an international player plus keeping the same group together while introducing fresh blood like Ed and Bryce. I wondered if it was heart breaking for Matt to make way for a younger player. He claims not at all: “I’d rather our club had a winning team than being on court myself – the club comes first.” Matt describes the team as a bunch of mates who all love coming to the club and socialising with the rest of us.
The great thing about interviewing members for these pieces is that you get to find out things you’d never discover otherwise. People at the club rarely brag about their day job or their domestic circumstances. I didn’t for instance know Matt was a copywriter nor did I know that he and his partner Fran own a publishing business – with titles Islandtime Magazine, Pacific Romance and Family Time going to travel agents all over New Zealand and Australia.
About a year ago Matt started a new business venture, importing Compressport compression gear. It’s a Swiss range of lower body clobber that can protect your quads, thighs, calves or ankles from the ravages of racket sports.
Top players like Nick Matthews and Greg Gaultier have been using this stuff for years. Matt noticed Welsh Counsins Shield import Peter Creed using it and gave it a go when he couldn’t shake off a hamstring strain. He found he could not only play without feeling this injury but he didn’t feel any after effects the next day. On the one occasion since when he’s played without it he noticed the difference the next day, He claims that by holding everything nice and tight, the blood (oxygen) moves faster through the affected area and makes the muscles more effective. Why not check out the website and find out more? www.courtsport.co.nz
During an interview lasting 52 minutes and 17 seconds we didn’t once talk about Matt Taylor the squash player apart from how he got onto the game and where he’d played.
But he is a remarkable player who moves around the court with cat like grace and agility and strikes the ball with perfect timing. I was struck by how good he was either the first or second time I came to the club a decade ago. He was having a hit against another A grade player. I couldn’t believe the subtle interplay or the length of the rallies. I’d never seen anything like it at the club I’d left back in England. I was also struck that other club members walked past the glass front wall as if this jaw dropping exhibition was nothing special. But special it was and I’ll never tire of watching our A graders doing drills or playing each other.
There is one incident I would like to share. Last year we hosted the Cousins Shield and as far as I’m aware we fielded a B team for the second time ever. Matt was its playing captain and the team also included Jared Conning and Mike Weston our then coach. Their games were all scheduled at the North Shore club so I didn’t get to see them. After the tournament Matt gave his team shirt to my squash sparring-partner Kevin Williams. For years Kevin has been quietly helping run juniors on Friday evenings where he helps nurture the next generation of Herne Bay hopefuls including Matt’s son Taine. Given Matt’s years of playing in the Cousins Shield are winding down, giving away his shirt was a generous act and tells you everything you need to know about this remarkable and forward looking clubman.
The club is a great facility for events such as birthdays and work functions which not only help fund the club from facility hireage but introduce possible new members to the club. To enquire about functions please contact Pia in the club office on 376 0681 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Our web site: www.hernebayrackets.co.nz/
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