Defending champ thwarts B.C. players at Squash Open

If not for Whitehorse's Cameron Webber, Yukon's top squash title would have all but certainly left the territory this week.

If not for Whitehorse’s Cameron Webber, Yukon’s top squash title would have all but certainly left the territory this week.

The 32-year-old downed two visiting British Columbians en route to winning his second straight open division title at the Yukon Squash Open on Saturday at Better Bodies Whitehorse.

“Today, I’ve never had to fight that hard for a third game before,” said Webber. “If it went four (games) I was pretty much done.”

Webber defeated Vancouver’s Connor Lukas 11-9, 11-9, 17-15 in the final. He dispatched a few set points for Lukas in the third game as the 19-year-old British Columbian threatened to force a fourth.

“I was just thinking, if I did beat him in that (third) game, I was going to take the match,” said Lukas. “He seemed a lot more tired than I was.”

No argument from Webber. At the end of the third his strategy was to “just throw a bunch of stuff out there and make a little prayer that it goes well,” said Webber. “I was just trying to convince myself to put two points in a row together. Ordinarily that doesn’t sound that hard, but that was pretty much all I could do.”

While Webber kept the open title in Yukon, second, third and fourth went to B.C. players.

Sibling rivalry sparked in the match for third place.

Surrey, B.C.‘s Alex Garceau defeated sister Michelle 11-13, 12-10, 11-7, 11-6 for third.

Michelle, who was making her third appearance at the championship, won the open women’s division the last two years. There was no women’s division this year.

“My sister likes to boast that she’s better than me, but she’s never beaten me in an official match before,” said Alex. “We play often, so I know her game really well and that kind of gives me the advantage there. I watch her play a lot more than she watches me play.”

Webber defeated Alex in four games in the semifinal. The champ barely squeaked by Whitehorse’s Stephen Grundmanis in his first match.

“I barely squeaked by into the second round because Stephen Grundmanis took me to five (games) and had match ball, and probably should have won,” said Webber.

“I would like to point out (three-time Yukon champ) Julien Revel was not here,” he added. “That’s the only reason you and I are talking right now.”

Grundmanis captured the open consolation title with a tight 11-5, 10-12, 5-11, 12-10, 11-5 win over runner-up Adam Sippell.

Seeding in the junior division was spot-on for the top finishers.

Top seed Brett Walchuk defeat No. 2 seed Jarod McCulloch 11-9, 11-7, 5-11, 15-13 for the junior title.

“He came back and almost won the fourth,” said Walchuk. “By the end of that I was sweating like crazy.

“Me and Jarod are best friends, so it was just fun and we were just playing for fun.”

The third game loss to McCulloch was the only that got away from Walchuk, who is just finishing his first year of playing. The 12-year-old cruised through his two opening matches.

No. 3 seed Kayden King defeated Cole McCulloch in a tight five-gamer for third in the junior division.

Gabe Stetkiewicz was another to fulfill his top-seed status.

Stetkiewicz defeated Stephen Buckler 15-12, 15-13, 15-12 to win the B division.

“We were both pretty gassed after some intense matches so that’s why I suspect it didn’t go to five,” said Stetkiewicz.

The B win marks Stetkiewicz’s best finish in the Yukon championship. Perhaps he’ll try for open next year.

“I’ve been thinking about making the transition to the next level, and I think this solidified the idea,” said Stetkiewicz. “This is my best finish, and I hope to improve upon it next year.”

Former women’s champ Lori Muir grabbed third with a 3-2 win over Shahid Syed. Jim Gilpin won the consolation round.

“I was really impressed with the B division, it was super competitive,” said Stetkiewicz. “I think all eight players could have won the tournament, so I was rally impressed with the quality competition and how close it was. Khoon (Chua) and Squash Yukon did a really good job setting it up.”

Victor Lavenderos cruised through the C division competition to the title without dropping a set. He defeated Kameran Idrees 15-10, 15-8, 15-4 in the final.

Tony Radford beat Gareth Earl in three for third place.

Cathy MacDonald topped Kennedy Cairns 13-15, 15-12, 15-5, 15-10 to grab the D division title.

Jesse Koeller went three straight over Jim McGeragle for third in D.

For the first time the Yukon championship included a “dingles” – doubles in a singles court – competition with four doubles teams participating.

Chua and Muir took the title with a 3-1 win over Alex Garceau and Shirley Chua-Tan in the final.

“Thanks to the people for coming up, it’s always good to play new people and show them the Yukon,” added Webber.

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