Ann Eleanor Stephens, nee MacKenzie, passed away peacefully on the 17th of December 2022, aged 89 years .
Stephens was the leading New Zealand women's squash player for 15 years, winning five national titles between 1956 and 1963, and representing her country from 1960 to 1968.
She was also part of Mitchell Cup-winning teams from Oamaru and Hamilton, where she relocated about 50 years ago in her late 20s, and likely would have an even more impressive record had she not split her time between squash and badminton, at which she was also a national champion.
In 1957, for example, she played in both sports' national championships on the same weekend she described her success as a combination of natural ability and circumstance. "I think I was a little bit natural. It just managed to click for me," she said.
"It was quite easy for me in a way because both sports were in the same building in Oamaru. I went from one to the other in the same night."
She paid tribute to the late Roy Mitchell, a benefactor of Oamaru and New Zealand squash, who had funded the dual complex in Oamaru's Tyne St, described by Stephens as "one of the best badminton facilities in New Zealand at the time".
Stephens was inducted into the New Zealand Squash Hall of Fame on November 25, 2011 at the Remuera Racquets Club, along with Norm Coe, Pam Davis and Paul Steel.