The gene pool was smaller, but competition at this weekend’s Yukon Open squash tournament was ferocious.
All but one final went to four or five sets.
“The Yukon Open is usually our biggest event,” said Squash Yukon and Better Bodies coach Marie Desmarais, who hosted the event.
“A lot of the time, players from Yellowknife come up, but they decided this year to come to our Squash Thaw, which is our year end (event). So we didn’t have as many as we usually do.”
In fact, the small numbers persuaded organizers to group the women’s main draw in with the open B division. Interestingly, although men outnumbered women in the B division five to eight, the finals resulted in a match-up between Lia Johnson and Lori Muir.
“I think it was great that two females were in the final,” said Johnson. “When you look at the draw you see a lot of guys playing Ã‰ to have two females in the finals says a lot.”
In a grueling battle filled lengthy rallies, Johnson took the match 9-3, 7-9, 9-6, 9-4. According to Johnson, a little change in pace is what she needed to bounce back from the second set loss.
“We’re evenly matched so I’d be surprised if I won in three,” said Johnson. “Sometimes you get too aggressive and caught up with what’s going on in the game and you need to slow it down a bit.”
The two met in the Fit for Heart tournament at the beginning of February with Johnson taking that match as well.
“It was a really similar feeling of a tough battle and I was exhausted afterwards,” said Johnson.
Peter Mather finished third in the B division after opponent Michel Gelinas retired with an injury. Mather was prevented from playing the finals after losing a tight match against Johnson Saturday morning.
“I hadn’t played him this year so I had to figure out his style a little bit,” said Johnson. “That was a big match for me.”
Taking the men’s A division was Mark Tubman who defeated Phil Jackson in the finals, 9-5, 7-9, 5-9, 9-3, 9-1.
“It was a little bit thin but still good competition,” said Tubman of the A division. “All four of my matches went to five games, so I had a good workout all weekend.”
Despite suffering from a leg cramp, Tubman overcame a 2-1 set deficit for the title.
“Fortunately he didn’t realize I was in a bit of pain in the fourth set,” said Tubman. “He didn’t bear down and try to take the fourth game. If he tried a little harder and made some better shots to put the pressure on me Ã‰ but he didn’t realize I had a little (leg) cramp.
“It was there for him to take.”
Taking the top spot in the C division was Trevor Mead-Robins with a 9-6, 9-5, 8-10, 9-0 win over Dour Thorseth in the finals.
In the novice divisions, Will Parker won his three matches, including two five-setters, to finish first ahead of Joel Brennan. In the open women’s division Kelly Panchyshyn finished first ahead of second-place Alexis Hougen.
“It was fun,” said Johnson. “And we still have time to go out and celebrate Rendezvous.”
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