One by one, team Yukon players entered the glass ricochet chamber.
And as if the squash court were an abattoir, Shaun Stinson, Logan Small, Robert McMynn and Erik Jacobsen all faced slaughter at the hands of higher-seeded Nova Scotia players in 12 straight sets.
But the expected pallor of defeat wasn’t on any of the young players’ faces after the matches at Ecole Emilie Tremblay on Monday night.
The Yukon men’s squash team knows it must trade early losses against higher-ranked players for potential victories against teams of equal ability later in the tournament.
The future games will be the ones that count for the Yukon men’s squash team, said head coach Marie Desmarais.
“The hard part for us is over — those were the top seeds,” she said Monday evening, after her players faced straight defeats in its first day of competition against Quebec and Nova Scotia.
“I think now we can do a little better. These kids have all played at national tournaments before so they recognize that if somebody is seeded number one, they’re going to have to have different goals, realistic goals.”
All four men’s players seem grounded for the tournament.
“I want to win a match and not lose a game without any points anymore,” said 17-year-old McMynn with a chuckle. “The first two, yeah, but no more.”
“I want to take at least a match,” said 14-year-old Small of his goals.
“I want to play better than I’ve ever played before — put it to the back more and have more fun,” said 16-year-old Jacobsen.
“I’d love to win a match, but the big thing is having a lot of fun and meeting new people,” said 16-year-old Stinson.
But there are a few people Stinson specifically asked not to meet at the court on Monday night.
“I think I felt a little bit more pressure today,” he said. “I kinda got my parents not to come. I’m a little bit more nervous with my parents. But it feels good being home.”
Desmarais’ goal is to hold on to the men’s ninth-place seeding after the tournament.
“I think they’ve been playing very, very well,” she said of the team. “They’ve been playing seeded teams that are ranked first and third, and it’s tough to play amongst that level of play and still try to achieve your goals, but they’re doing really well.”
Though there is an added pressure playing at home, the Yukon players will also feel energized by the rousing cheers of hometown fans, said Desmarais.
“I think they’re going to find that the crowd support’s really going to help them,” she said. “It has been exciting having the parents come.”
Desmarais should know. At one time she was ranked 18th in Canada in squash.
The gregarious coach of 15 years — who invariably offers new Yukoners she meets a free squash lesson — is a wee bit shy about her former squash glory.
“It’s not recent,” she said with a giggle of her old ranking.
The Yukon men’s team next plays Alberta and New Brunswick.