Junior Squash Pros Come to Coast

With the recent end to the junior squash season at the Gibson’s Recreation Center, the Sunshine Coast Squash Association brought in two junior squash pros to assist with the program’s year end wrap up. Attending from Vancouver were Zachary Leman, Boys Under 15 Canadian Champion, and Morgan Latriemolle, presently ranked 18 overall in Canada for the Boys Under 19 age group.

The junior pros spent the first portion of the day providing coaching to the boys and girls participating in the local junior squash program. Following the coaching, the guests played both adults and juniors, providing an opportunity for local players to be challenged at a high level of competition. Concluding the day, the squash community gathered to watch the two national level players play a highly entertaining exhibition match. In the end, the two junior pros did not disappoint. With the match games tied at two games each, the final game required eight extra tie breaker points before Leman won game five 19-17 (games normally end at 11).

Overall, the excitement of the exhibition match appropriately ended a great junior squash year with the squash community coming together to enjoy another entertaining squash event.

New scoring system

New scoring system – As reported earlier, the World Squash Federation went to a new, worldwide scoring system which was ‘point a rally’ (PAR) to 11. This system replaced the ‘hand in/hand out’ scoring to 9 (you only score a point when you serve).

One of the problems associated to the new scoring was the games were over quicker and the level of fitness workout received was reduced. To compensate for this reduced workout, many clubs are now implementing ‘point a rally’ to 15 which keeps with the new scoring system and gives a good workout as well. I would suggest that PAR 15 will be the system for scoring for ‘recreational’ levels in the future.

Please give it a try and see which of the three scoring systems work best for you.

Inaugural Squash Tournament

With the advent of new squash courts on the Coast, the Sunshine Coast Squash Association recently held its inaugural squash tournament at the Gibson’s and Area Recreation Facility. In total, twenty players participated in the tournament, designed to have people play in teams as opposed to individuals. A total of four teams were created, composed of ability levels from advanced to novice levels.Over the two day tournament, a round robin event occurred with the two top teams entering a playoff for the eventual winner and the bottom two teams fighting it out for third place. In the end, the team comprised of Joel Bateson, Graham Wallis, Peter Telfer, Bill Slius and Susan Gordon prevailed as the round robin and playoff champions.

A few of the highlight matches from the weekend involved Bateson beating Murray Smith 2-1 in an ‘A’ Event round robin match that required extra points to complete. Also, Peter Telfer redeeming himself by besting Dean Miller 3-1 in the C Event playoff after losing in the round robin to Miller. Another effort of note, was Al Garrels 3-1 playoff victory over Graham Wallis after falling to Wallis in the round robin event. Finally, provincially ranked junior player Kendyl Smith, found a way to beat Caitlin Hicks with a 3-1 Ladies Event, nail biter win.

A great time was had by all and with this tournament, the squash season will wrap up until next September. Planned activities for next season will include the return of the Junior Squash Program, Box League Squash, coaching and more tournaments. Also, the S/C Squash Association will be working toward establishing high school squash teams to complete locally as well as provincially.

Shakiru Matti Clinic

Last weekend, the Sunshine Coast Squash Association hosted, Shakiru Matti, a Vancouver squash professional, to provide a clinic to local squash enthusiasts. Matti is one of the top ranked squash players in British Columbia and in Canada and spent seven years as the Mexican and Guatemalan squash national team coach. The coaching was well received and will assist local residents interested in improving their game for future tournaments and competition.

Murray Smith
Chair – S/C Squash Association

Getting set to squash the competition

Kendyl Smith was virtually born with a squash racquet in her hand.

The 13-year-old from Halfmoon Bay remembers going to tournaments when she was young. In fact, according to her father Murray, he took Kendyl to tournaments when she was still a baby.

“She went to her first tournament when she was three weeks old. I still remember passing Kendyl over to someone else to hold and take care of when I had to play,” said Murray. “She was always at tournaments growing up. I guess the game grew on her.”

Kendyl picked up the game seriously four years ago in Prince George where Murray worked with the conservation office.

When Murray was transferred to the Coast a few years ago, he was shocked to find no squash facilities here.

Through mutual friends and contacts, he was able to secure a private court nestled in Roberts Creek where the two practise at least three times a week.

“We’ve really been fortunate to have this court space. Without it, it would have meant travelling a lot more to the Lower Mainland,” said Murray.

There is still lots of travel time though, as Kendyl is away many weekends competing in tournaments throughout the province.

Two weekends ago she was in Nanaimo for an open adult tournament where she won the women’s D event. More than 100 participants took part, and Kendyl was first in a draw with eight adult women.

This weekend, Kendyl will be a part of the zone five team (Vancouver-Squamish) at the B.C. Winter Games in Cranbrook.

Then she is off to the B.C. provincial closed championships next week at the Arbutus Club in Vancouver, followed by the B.C. provincial closed junior championships later in March at the Hollyburn Golf and Country Club in North Vancouver.

“I’m looking forward to this weekend — I’ve never been to the winter games before,” said Kendyl. “I love playing. I hope to do well. I’d really like a medal.”

Kendyl plans to play in nine tournaments this year — all off-Coast.

But the off-Coast travelling will cut down a bit later in March with the opening of the new community centre in Gibsons that will feature two courts — one for straight squash and one that can be converted to either squash or racquetball.

“During our time here, we’ve really got involved in the community, and the Sunshine Coast Indoor Racquet Association was established,” said Murray. “We have 60 enthusiastic members, but right now only 10 are playing. We’ve waited so long and gone through a lot of highs and lows during the process to get these new courts. Everyone can’t wait until the new community centre opens up and people can start enjoying all the facilities.”

Murray said he’s hoping that with these new courts, more people will get involved in the sport.

“Kendyl is the only junior playing on the Coast. I’d like to see that change,” Murray said. “Once we get things going, we’d like to get men’s and women’s drop-in sessions, set up a squash league, hold referee and coaching clinics and build a fraternity around the sport. There is a lot of interest and we now have the facilities to really make a push to grow the sport and get more people playing.”

New Squash Courts – Sunshine Coast

It is with great excitement that the Sunshine Coast (Gibsons/Sechelt area) welcomes the world to come play at our two new squash courts in the Gibson’s Community Recreation Center. These courts are located a mere forty minute ferry ride from Horseshoe Bay.

Saturday, March 29, 2008 was a truly historic and long awaited moment for residents of the Sunshine Coast. With the opening of the new Gibson’s Community Recreation Center, two squash courts were unveiled to the community along with a new ice rink, fitness room, as well as numerous community and activity rooms. Over 500 people attended the grand opening and many of these were introduced to squash for the first time. As well, over twenty adults signed up for an introductory squash lesson and interest was generated for a similar program for high school students.

The two squash courts did not come easy and many times over the past three years they were lost and then reinstated as construction costs increased and last minute municipal funding was found. However, the local group was like a ‘dog with a bone’ and never wavered from their goal of securing courts for the community.

The journey began with a community referendum which spurred a core group of squash enthusiasts to create the Sunshine Coast Indoor Racquet Association. This group combined its efforts with other sports groups to rally the community to support a twenty million dollar recreational complex. After four previous unsuccessful recreation referendums on ‘the Coast’, the referendum passed with massive support. However, following the referendum, the group was advised that racquet courts would only be included in the new facility if it could be shown that the community supported this activity. As a consequence, the group spearheaded a petition, sought support from Squash BC, as well as attended numerous public meetings, all along voicing the importance of courts to the community. Ultimately, the group’s efforts paid off as local government could not ignore the support racquet courts received from the community.

With the opening of the new facility, the racquet association will now assist in coordinating start up activities with local government. Activities will include: introductory lessons, men and ladies drop in times, box ladder, a junior program as well as local/provincial tournaments.

The carpet is rolled out for everyone to come to the beautiful Sunshine Coast to play squash. If anyone is looking to coordinate a ‘hit’, please feel free to contact us at coastsquash@gmail.com

Enthusiasm for sport, new courts very high

Squash is the new game in town, and enthusiasm couldn’t be any higher.

The new courts at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre have been a long time coming for squash enthusiasts on the Coast, and they are taking full advantage of the new facilities.

Last Saturday, the Sunshine Coast Squash Association held an open house offering information on the club and giving players, whether they were new to the game or grizzled veterans eager to pick up the sport again, a chance to play in free mini games.

“Today is really our first day getting a chance to meet the public and talk up the sport,” said association president Murray Smith. “It’s been great seeing so many people drop by, say hi and get to know the game again. We’ve had a good mix of people. Lots of people have said they used to play 20 years ago and are interested in getting some of the rust off and want to enjoy the game again. Others are new to the sport and want to give it a try. It’s all about connecting with the people.”

Through the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), the association has three clinics open to new players in the next week. The clinics are May 21 from 4:30 to 6 p.m., May 24 from 2:50 to 4:25 p.m. and May 29 from 6:10 to 7:45 p.m., all at the new courts at the community centre. Cost is $16, and the class will introduce novice players to the game by introducing the rules, proper stroke and position techniques. Racquets and eye protection will be included with all classes taught by Smith. Interested players can register in person at the community centre or by calling 604-885-6801.

“The clinics are a good way to learn the game and connect with other players of similar skill levels,” Smith said.

Besides the clinics, the association has set up an online networking sign-up system at www.coastsquash.co

“The big thing for us was connecting with people who wanted to play,” said Smith. “You can go in and see which players want to play, what their skill level is and get connected with them for a game. So far, it’s been a big hit with the players.”

Smith said there is also a written board at the community centre beside the courts where players can also sign up and connect with other players for a game.

In September, the association plans to start up drop-in women’s and men’s nights and a junior program through the SCRD.

– By Ian Jaques