It didn’t take long for competition to heat up on Whitehorse squash courts this season.
Five divisions all ended in lengthy five-game matches at Squash Yukon’s Opening Tournament, which saw 38 players participate over the weekend at Better Bodies Whitehorse.
There was a lot on the line in the premier division final on Sunday, with both players vying for their first squash title.
In the end, No. 2 seed Chris Cullingham came back from two sets down to defeat Chic Callas 18-20, 9-15, 15-12, 15-12, 15-11 on Sunday.
“I think Chic just made more errors in the end than I did, which is not the best way to win, but it still feels good, I guess,” said Cullingham. “There was a bit of a turning-point in the third game – and the fourth game. I think Chic was getting tired; he was making more errors than he did in the first couple.”
“I don’t think anything necessarily went wrong, Chris played really well, came back and deserved to win,” said Callas. “He came back and won – it’s really as simple as that.”
The third game was clearly the turning point of the match. Cullingham allowed a 12-7 lead slip to 13-12, but managed to hold on.
“I wanted to win that game, but I didn’t want to make a lot of errors,” said Callas. “So I’m trying to hit good shots and put him under pressure, and have him lose rather than me win. Even under pressure, he got them back and won.
“I’m 55 next Saturday and he’s 31 – that makes a difference.”
Callas, who was the consolation winner last year, knocked out the top-seeded Mark Tubman to reach the final while Cullingham defeated Grayson Peters, who went on to take third.
“They were all tough matches,” said Cullingham. “I played Chris (Toleman) and Grayson, and they were all tough matches. I was lucky enough to have a lot of space between matches, so I had resting time.”
It’s not difficult to spot the next generation of top Yukon players, with two winning the B and C division titles on Saturday.
Almost dropping a two-set lead, junior Kai Knorr, 16, defeated Coleman Newell 15-6, 17-15, 14-16, 17-19, 15-8 to win B.
“Coleman just started playing harder and I was running out of steam,” said Knorr. “I just gave it everything I had left in the last games. If I didn’t Coleman would have won.
“Coleman put me through hell. That was the toughest match I’ve played in a long time.”
Taking third was Danny Johnson, winning in five games over top-seed Michael Gelinas.
In the C final Ehsan Idrees, 14, came back from down 2-1 in games to defeat Mike Bernier 15-12, 12-15, 7-15, 15-10, 15-12.
“I was pretty happy with myself,” said the junior. “Just placement – make him run a lot. In the second game he was pretty tired, so I made him run some more and made him more tired.”
David Buckler snagged third with a four-game win over Adam Humphrey.
In the most back-and-forth final, Share Knorr and Joanne Heyes traded sets, with the former winning 15-7, 8-15, 15-11, 11-15, 15-6 in the D division final on Saturday.
“I felt, if I don’t dig deep and take it early, I’m running out of steam – I haven’t been playing for at least a year,” said Share. “We’re both really tired. It’s amazing how much cardio you don’t have until you get out there.
“It was point for point until one of us pulled ahead to take the game.”
In the match for third, Jeremy Locke downed Connor Morgan in five games.
The Opening Tournament saw only one title defended from last year.
Alysha Gullison maintained ownership of her junior title win a 12-15, 15-13, 17-15, 5-15, 16-14 over Sana Syed in the junior division final on Saturday.
“I’ve won it a couple times, but that was a really hard one to win, because she hit the ball really hard and I had to run for it,” said Gullison, 12. “In the fourth (game) I was distracted because I hit my leg with my racquet. It sort of hurt.”
Jarod McCulloch took third in the junior division with a win over Anna Janowicz.
The tournament’s consolation winners include: Mustafa Syed (premier), Jarrod Chinnick (B division), Mark Beese (C division), Genevieve Camire (D division) and Cole McCulloch (junior division).
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com