IT may have taken 27 years, but East Gippsland’s ascension up the Victorian Country Teams Squash Championships divisions is now complete with the region winning its first Hopman Cup title. In a stunning result, East Gippsland won each of its four Division 1 matches against much more fancied opposition, including defending champions Mornington Peninsula (1), Geelong (1), Ballarat (1) and Goulburn Valley. Making the achievement even more remarkable was the fact it was East Gippsland’s first year back in the top flight following its Division 2 title win and subsequent promotion in 2016.
East Gippsland’s drought-breaking campaign was spearheaded by Maffra star Mark Ikin, Bairnsdale’s Judy Wright and Lakes Entrance’s Natalie MacKay, who all played starring roles in the historic win. The Merle Sampson Trophy for the winners of Division 2 went to Latrobe Valley, who also received the added bonus of a promotion up to Division 1 for the 2018 Championships. Division 3 was secured by Ballarat (2), who will also make the move up a section next year as a result of taking home the Royal Trophy.