By HENRY MORABANG
LACK of sponsorship did not hinder Lynette Vai’s dream of becoming a number one squash player in Papua New Guinea.
The 11-year-old, Grade 6 student of Korobosea International school, is a promising and keen squad player, who recently took part in North Queensland regional squash qualifying tournament in Townsville, Australia, with parental support.
To pursue her dream to becoming a number one player, she had to travel overseas to take part in tough competitions such as North Queensland tournament.
Showing enthusiasm and great talent at a young age and to foster her interest in the racquet sport, Vai was accompanied by her mother, Konio.
The qualifying tournament from March 20-21 was held as lead-up events to the state and national squash championships which will be held later in the year.
With junior squash development in PNG very much under developed and the lack of sponsorship, it means to nurture talent and interest at a young age is very much dependent on parental support.
Attending her first overseas tournament, Vai did not know her strength until a timely visit by Richard Cargliarini, a high performance squash coach from Melbourne, who assessed and recommended her for the event.
Cargliarini was here to train our squash elites for the Commonwealth Games later this year.
From the feedback received, Lynette entered the girls U13 events.
The matches were played according to age, with winners based on games won and points scored.
This enabled Lynette to rub shoulders with higher ranked players in the girls U15 categories, Nikki Haines who is ranked No.2 and Emily Jackson who is ranked No. 4, both from Mackay.
Vai lost 1-3 to Nikki but picked up in the second game coincidently beating Emily with the same scoreline.
She easily won her other matches in straight sets, resulting in her winning the girls U13 event.
Two half-Papua New Guineans based in Atherton, Cairns, also took part in the tournament and came out victorious.
They were Dijo Sexton, currently ranked No.1 in the girls under 17 and Ivan Jensen in the boys U15 event.