What's in our newsletter this week ... 

* Pia D'Ambros: Making the boat go faster

* Tennis: Club Champs tournament fortnight now on

* Squash: Winter interclub, tournaments & Superchamps

* Gym exercises to improve racket sports performance

* Pilates on the Court: book online

* Welcome to new and renewing members

* Access cards

* Lost property

* Visitor fees

* Security

* Volunteer bar duty

* Bar tabs

* Membership renewals

Pia D’Ambros: making the boat go faster

Peter Cross spends quality time with our new administrator


Our club has a different vibe at different times. The place you go for a not so quiet drink on a Thursday night seems different from the same building on a Sunday afternoon when there might be a lone game of tennis doubles going on outside and George Crosby and Matt Taylor having a hit on squash court three. I was thinking about this when I was hanging around one Saturday morning recently at a time when I can normally be found at Countdown doing my weekly shop. David was running a juniors’ tennis tournament, Jarrod had something similar going for junior squash players on courts two, three and four while on court one the person I’d come to see was putting five women through one of her regular Pilates classes.   

I had never met Pia before as we use the Club at different times but members have raved about her positive “can do” attitude and friendly disposition. She prepared for the interview by printing out her CV resume which didn’t contain a wasted word. She describes herself as a natural leader with excellent communication skills and you know that for once it’s true. I was struck, not for the first time, that so called alternative therapists are invariably brilliant adverts for their discipline. Over the decades I’ve met loads of overweight nurses, I was one myself for 25 years, and chain smoking doctors yet have never met an osteopath or yoga instructor whose body wasn’t in perfect nick.   

I don’t know about you but I know nothing about Pilates apart from it being a bit like yoga. So I was keen to learn more. The founding father was a German called Joseph Pilates (1883 – 1967). He was a sickly child who overcame his frail start by becoming a fitness fanatic and excelled at gymnastics and boxing. He’s an excellent example of the sort of genius who sets out to find a cure for his own affliction and in doing so discovers insights and treatments that have a wider application. Other examples that spring to mind are Fredrick Alexander 1869-1955 an Australian opera singer who regained his voice after improving his posture and, in our own day, the American Ron Davis who is changing the way people with autism and dyslexia can improve their lot.  Anyway Joe Pilates moved to the UK in 1912 and was interned on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien during the First World War. While there he devised a treatment regime to help bed bound prisoners using the limited resources available. In the mid twenties he moved to the States and opened a fitness studio where among others he treated numerous dancers.  As far as I can see Joe Pilates' techniques stayed under the radar as far as the general public were concerned until recent decades but before this his work was gaining traction getting more and more referrals from medical doctors and physiotherapists.

Pia came to Pilates when she was running her business, Nappies Direct, which we’ll get to in a while. She was taking three classes a week to stay in shape. When the successful business was sold and she had time on her hands she embarked in the rigorous study involved to become a trainer. As you’d imagine it includes a lot of anatomy and physiology theory as well as learning the various techniques used to teach clients how to improve their core strength or treat injuries. Pia tells me it’s ideal for supporting your body if you go in for running or ball games. As she puts it, “If you look after the core, the extremities look after themselves”. Apart from the three classes Pia runs at the Club she also works at physiotherapy pilates studios such as Body Reform, MovementLab and Re:Ab. There were five women in the class the Saturday morning I saw her, she has taken 10 but five or six is about the right number to give the optimal time for each person. As you’d expect there is an interesting gender divide: as a rule women enrol for health and fitness reasons while men come along after an injury.

Pia comes from Italian stock. She was brought up in an Australian speaking household in Melbourne, her father and brother are both blue-eyed while she and her mother are dark haired with chocolate-coloured eyes. As first generation migrants her parents didn’t spend money on coaching for their kids so she’s never been into organised sport. Her father was a civil engineer and was forever pointing out roads and bridges he’d had a hand in constructing when driving his kids around Victoria. Everyone knows about the influence Italians have had on the food they’ve given us and the catering industry generally and it’s easy to forget the building knowhow they have provided everywhere since Roman times; Italians for instance were brought in by one of the tsars to design and build the iconic buildings in Moscow’s Red Square. (The stuff you pick up in a rackets club newsletter)             

Nappies Direct went from her husband’s brainwave to launch at the Auckland Baby Show in a month. A four week pregnancy is what you might call an immaculate conception. No time at all to set up the company infrastructure including on-line presence, sourcing of stock and means of payment and distribution. Hard to believe but back in 2002 few of us shopped on-line and there were teething problems to overcome like training couriers used to delivering stock to businesses that new mums don’t like having nappies arriving at five in the morning. But through hard graft the business flourished and the site became the place where parents could go to buy everything they needed for their baby's arrival.

Pilates wasn’t the only thing that Pia took up when she sold her business. She somehow found time to pursue a grad diploma in theology in addition to raising two-teenaged sons. This wasn’t something I checked out, but I sensed that being a member of a vibrant parish was as important as the spiritual side of her faith. When talking about the club she spoke of how it can be a focal point in a non-secular community.            

And finally for those baffled by the title of this piece: Making the boat go faster. It comes from a mantra that Sir Peter Blake used to trot out when he was at the helm of our Americas Cup team with limited financial resources. Apparently he fielded every suggestion put to him with the question: “Will it make the boat go faster?” It was his way of keeping the team focused on their most important goal. Pia used this quote in response to a question about what she felt is needed to improve the club. She feels that we should put aside our differences and celebrate and exploit the things we’ve got going for us. “We can’t compete on tennis alone against specialist tennis clubs.” She told me, “The same goes for squash or Les Mills for the gym.” As she sees it our USP is that we offer the lot. The land we lease from the Council has been used for sport for a long time.  It’s our job to ensure that it stays that way and keep it safe from those property developers who’d love to replace it with even more soulless blocks of flats.

Apart from our members, our most important asset is the diverse range of sporting activities we offer: tennis, squash, racquetball, the gym, Pilates and not to mention the bar. Pia has come up with a slogan that encapsulates it all: “Your country club in the city.” Genius. You find it on the welcome letter given to new members along with concise information about what you get from full membership. Will she make the boat go faster? It’s already speeding up.                


Club Champs tournament fortnight now on

The competitive spirit is strong if the volume of entries into this year's club champs is anything to go by! Draws for the tournament and info on how to schedule matches are up on the club website here. Matches can be scheduled up to finals day of Sunday 7 April. Entrants have received full details of draws and comp rules via email. Any questions please contact Simon at

Senior club night Thursday & Sunday club day 

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. Note some club champs games may be scheduled around these times.

Junior club night Friday, weekend interclub, and junior programmes

Junior club night runs Fridays from 4.30pm–6pm under the watchful eyes of our coaching staff. Please note that this week we are playing some junior club champs games as part of club night. If you are scheduled to play David will be in touch.

Junior after-school programmes are running now. Contact club professional David Mustard on 021 476 606 for more info.


Senior Winter Interclub entries

Senior Winter Interclub entries open in iSquash this week and close on Friday 12 April.  Competition begins on 29/30 April and runs for nine weeks.  

2019 Auckland Tournaments (enter via iSquash)

Apr 4-6: Franklin Masters
Apr 5-6: Belmont D,E,F Grade Ladies 19+
Apr 6: Manurewa Junior 1-Day
Apr 7: Double Dot Squash Junior 1-Day @ Henderson
Apr 11-13: North Shore Masters
Apr 12-14: Howick A2

Auckland District Superchamps

Entries for Auckland District Superchamps will open on Monday 17 June and close 5pm Wednesday 3 July.  Venues will be allocated once entries have closed. Now is a good time to start thinking about teams.

The 2019 National Finals will be held from 25-28 September at the following venues;

B Grade – Whakatane Squash Club

C Grade – SquashCity Invercargill

D Grade – Whangarei Squash Club

E Grade – Tawa Squash Club (Wellington)

F/J Grade – Cambridge Rackets Club

For more information visit

Online Club Referee Exam

This is a great starting point for both new and experienced players to ensure you can be confident of the rules.  

All players competing in competitive play such as interclub and tournaments are expected to have completed and passed the exam.

The exam consists of 50 multi-choice questions and can be fully completed online through the Squash NZ website.  The Club Referee qualification is valid for two years from the time of completion.  Both players and non-players are able to complete the exam.  

Link to online Club Referee Exam - Click here

List of current qualified Club Referees - Click here

A great video library to help you with your refereeingClick here

Senior club night

Senior club night starts at 6.30pm on Thursdays. Come along and meet fellow club members.  We rotate games every 10-15 minutes 

Junior club night 

Join Jarrod and his team on Friday nights from 4pm to 6pm for coaching, fun games and just a little bit of competition.

Gym exercises to improve racket sports performance

HBPRC Personal Trainer Siggy Brookland gives the first in a weekly series of exercise tips and information for improving racket sports performance
Get A Grip: Developing grip strength for racket sport injury prevention and stroke power
Tennis and squash place a large amount of stress on the forearm flexor and extensor muscles yet they are typically overlooked in a training programme for racket sports. This can lead to an increased chance of repetitive motion injuries, especially tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis), which is the irritation of the soft tissue connecting the forearm muscle to the elbow joint causing disabling and debilitating pain on the outside of the elbow.

The forearm muscles play a huge role in developing powerful hits as well as stabilising and controlling the elbow and wrist joints to prevent injuries. If the forearm muscles are not trained this creates a strength ratio offset between the forearm muscles and the upper arm muscle. For example, implementing traditional exercises such as triceps extensions, bicep curls, preacher curls and so forth but neglecting to incorporate grip strengthening exercises can lead to potential elbow injuries as uneven tension accumulates in the soft tissue around the elbow joint resulting in elbow injuries and pain.

So the more grip and forearm strength a tennis player has or can develop through specific grip strength training exercise, the less stress they will place on the wrist and elbow joints. Sufficient forearm and grip strength also can reduce the likelihood of shoulder-related injuries. This is because a player who has a weak grip or forearm muscles may try to overcompensate with the shoulder, increasing the risk of injury.

So, this week I am giving you my top four grip/forearm strength exercises for you to add to your next upper body workout to unlock your forearm/grip strength.

  1. Farmer Carries
  2. Passive Hang
  3. Towel Grip - Plate Curl
  4. Plate hold
Siggy Brookland 
HBPRC Personal Trainer 

Pilates on the Court

You can now book your Pilates sessions online! 
Book either classes or private one-on-one sessions!

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

Welcome to new and renewing members

New members

Benjamin Gregory (tennis)
Kerkmeester family (full - tennis & gym)

Renewing members

Michael Gregory (tennis)
Jack McKinney (tennis)
Jessica Travers (tennis)

Access cards

We have been working hard to ensure the safety of our club by reviewing all access cards in our security system. If you find your card is not working, and it should be, please contact Pia at and she will fix this for you.

Lost property

Items will be on display until 31 Mqrch and then all goods will be re-homes for the needy. Please look thoroughly through the pile in the Club Lounge.

Visitor fees

We love that you want to share our Club with your friends. If they are not a member of the Club, they are welcome but please put $20 cash in the drop box next to the Pro Shop with your name on it if there is no one in the bar or in the office. Perhaps even entice them to join to avoid further visitor fee charges.


Tennis Auckland has advised there has been a spate of break ins at tennis clubs in the Eastern Suburbs. They say cash has been taken and in some instances tennis gear so it is a warning to all clubs to be vigilant about ensuring our clubrooms are locked and secure. 

As we know from our vandalism attack in December we are not immune. So, please ensure:

1. That you are the only person using your Access Card.

2. That the Club is locked up and secure before you leave, day or night.

3. That if you open the doors onto the deck or in the gym, that you close them.

This is for your safety and the safety of everyone.

Volunteer bar duty

Thank you so much for those who responded to our call-out for new volunteers! Welcome to the team.
Currently we need bar staff on 6th, 8th ,9th, 19th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th and 27th covered. Can one of these days be you?

Bar tabs

Apologies for the inconvenience last week as we had no internet. If you owe the bar due to the eftpos not working, you can now settle this during the week. Your tab has been recorded and left next to the till. Much appreciated.

Membership renewals

January & February memberships

If your membership was due in January or February, your membership has now expired and your Access Cards have been deactivated. We would love for you to rejoin us, simply contact Pia at

March memberships

All members whose membership expires in March will have received an email and/or phone call from Pia. If you believe your membership is due in March and have not received an email or call, please contact the office. We are keen to have you all back this year!

Useful links to sports bodies and our sponsors

Our web site:

Please join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter: 

Additional Info:

David Mustard Tennis:

Double Dot Squash: 

Pilates on the Court:

Herne Bay Fitness Personal Training:


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Book a Squash Court

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