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    Squash isn’t Only for the Young at Heart (and Body)

    Jan 18, 2019 9:18:10 PM / by Nicole Garon

    2019 Canadian Masters Team Championship
    Photo credit to Squash Canada

    It’s not all over when you hit 40 ...

    Life and squash continue to be rich with competition and high caliber play.

    I just
    had the pleasure of playing in the Canadian Masters Team Tournament in the
    lovely (yet bitterly cold) Gatineau, Quebec at the very gracious and
    accommodating Club Sportheque. I was witness to some phenomenal squash and
    experienced some wonderful team bonding that I will treasure. I think it is
    important for people to know that those opportunities don’t disappear after
    juniors. They are still out there, and they are a heck of a lot of fun!

    With
    this in mind, I thought I would outline what my weekend with Team Ontario was
    all about.

    The
    Canadian Masters Team Tournament is an event where each Provincial or
    Territorial Squash Association in good standing with Squash Canada is eligible
    to enter a team (with the hosting province allowed to enter 2 teams into the
    event).

    This
    is the pinnacle of the Masters squash circuit. An event that not only pits the
    best each province has to offer in the sport, but also a time to catch up with
    friends you have met over years of competition. You get to meet people of like
    mind and spirit. The atmosphere is filled with enthusiasm, camaraderie and the
    sense of pride in representing one’s province.

    This
    year there were 8 provinces represented - Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Maritimes,
    New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan, for a total of 9 teams (with
    Quebec#1 & Quebec #2).

    In order to qualify for the Masters Team in Ontario, a player must win
    their division at the Ontario Masters Championships. The team is then comprised
    of 7 players that fit within the following age categories:

    • Men
      40+, 45+, 50+, 55+
    • Women
      40+, 45+, 50+

    Once
    each of these spots has been filled, players are then ranked in order of skill
    (by gender).

    The competition is set up in pool play. Playoffs are a cross-over of pool placement  (Pool A #1 plays Pool B #2, etc.). These culminate for the Sunday morning finals. This is where things get really interesting!!

    SETTING
    THE SCENE

    It is
    Sunday morning at the Canadian Masters Team Tournament.

    There
    is a deep seeded sport rivalry between the provinces.

    Pride
    and self-respect are on the line (not to mention some butts to cover from some
    friendly ribbing over beverages).

    Everyone
    has fought hard and done their part in gaining the opportunity to take home
    some shiny gold. There are 5 matches worth of wear and tear on each of the
    competitors’ bodies. There is the smell of BENGAY and A535 in the air. Coffee
    (and in some cases Coca Cola) helps to kick-start the adrenaline and shake off
    the weariness of the weekend’s toll.

    The
    atmosphere is buzzing and so are the bodies.

    It is
    Alberta versus Ontario striving for gold.

    Match
    #1

    Always
    a hard position to play (especially when our guy is a night hawk and not an
    early bird). Scott Kemp Gee always puts 100% into his match. He leaves it all
    out there on the court (including a little skin on the floor). The match was
    compelling and entertaining with both players showing moments of brilliance. It
    certainly woke up the crowd and got all of our blood warmed. Unfortunately the
    match went Alberta’s way.

    Match
    #2

    Our
    fashion-focused Lisa Bogdan was up next. These two ladies were so evenly matched
    you could tell it was going to be a barn-burner right from the start. The match
    up was back and forth like a tug of war - the crowd up and down like a roller
    coaster. First game to Ontario. Second game to Alberta. Third game to Ontario.
    Fourth game to Alberta. Fifth game goes to extra points 14 -12 … to Alberta.

    This
    is new territory for the team. We haven’t been two games down in a fixture all
    weekend.

    Match
    #3

    On
    court comes our soldier, Walter Bentley. Chills and fever coursing through his body
    over the past few days, he is there for the team and continues to battle on. As
    much as he had in him, he gave. Regrettably Walter fell victim to his opponent
    and Ontario is suddenly down 3 – 0 in matches.

    UH
    OH!! We are in a win or die scenario now. Next up – me.

    Match
    #4

    On
    court with the pressure of knowing we have to win or gold is no longer
    attainable was an interesting feeling to say the least. Ontario has had a
    dynasty of wins in this tournament and I did not want to be part of knocking
    that dynasty down. My opponent was fast, she had a wicked drop shot and I was
    slow off the mark. First game goes to Alberta. Thankfully in between game 1
    & 2 I received some fantastic strategy advice from my seasoned and
    experienced teammates. They said exactly what I needed to hear. I came back out
    on court focused with a game plan. That plan turned into a win. Alberta 3 –
    Ontario 1! We are still in it!

    Match
    #5

    David
    Sly is a marksman and an absolute master of the game. His court movement is
    easy, his shot selection enviable. He not only has to win to keep us in the
    hunt, but to cover his banter and rib poking from the evening before (all in
    good fun)! Right from the warm up on, Dave was comfortable and confident. His
    sniper racquet on form brought us our next needed victory. Albert 3 - Ontario
    2.

    Match
    #6

    Hardened
    to the pressures of competition, our stoic Elka Markus is up to the task. She
    takes the first two games with smart and gritty squash. Alberta takes the next
    game, making the crowd jittery with nerves. Not Elka.  Unflappable, she comes back with more
    strategic and brilliant play. Now things are really interesting Albert 3 –
    Ontario 3. Tie-breaker takes the gold… no pressure!

    Match
    #7

    Our
    Zen master, Don Lee takes to the court with an air of calmness (that seems
    perpetual with Mr. Lee). Never looking panicked or rushed or stressed, he
    floats to the ball and strikes like a viper.  He, too, goes up 2-0 in games. Our optimism
    grows. To keep things interesting Alberta’s player digs in. The 3rd
    game is grit, grind, and guts – Alberta takes the game. Still (seemingly)
    un-phased, calm and serene Don has a full out back and forth battle in the
    fourth. The crowd is into it, jumping, clapping, guffawing with each and every
    point. For the sake for drama they take it into extra points. Everyone on the
    edge – Don WINS 14-12 in the 4th! We did it! Coming back from a 0-3
    start to a 4-3 victory! What a team!

    It was
    an absolute honour to be a member of this year’s team. It was a pleasure to get
    to know some of my fellow Masters better, and spend some quality competitive
    time with them. The support, the comfort, the advice, the hugs and pats on the
    back, the cheering, the reassurance, and overall encouragement of this team for
    one another was the magic ingredient that got us through a nail-biter of a
    final.

    So for
    those of you who think that squash life is over at 40 and beyond, I highly
    suggest you check out Masters Squash. It will certainly challenge that belief!

    “Age is no barrier. It's a limitation you put on your mind” (Jackie Joyner-Kersee).

    Nicole
    Garon

    Squash Pro & Coordinator

    Brantford
    MOVATI Athletic

    Tags: Masters, Uncategorized, Canadian Squash

    Nicole Garon

    Written by Nicole Garon

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