Juniors all over the place at squash open

It was a good time to be a junior at the 2013 Yukon Open squash tournament on Saturday. Junior players captured the open women’s division, the men’s A division and made the final of the open men’s division at Better Bodies Whitehorse.

It was a good time to be a junior at the 2013 Yukon Open squash tournament on Saturday.

Junior players captured the open women’s division, the men’s A division and made the final of the open men’s division at Better Bodies Whitehorse.

The territorial championships also saw 20 players compete in the junior division, which is the most in recent history.

But Whitehorse’s Cameron Webber proved experience counts for something.

The 31-year-old player defeated Whitehorse junior Mustafa Syed to win his first open men’s singles title.

“That’s only the second time I’ve played Mustafa and that kid’s only 15,” said Webber. “It was honestly a treat to play him. It was a really nice game.”

Webber, who lost in the final in 2009, took the match 15-12, 7-15, 15-9, 15-8. He was a little too laid-back in the second game, he said.

“My issue is that I tend to get too relaxed,” said Webber. “I don’t play competitively very much anymore. So I took my foot off the gas, and he was definitely hungry and exploited a little bit of lackadaisicality.

“I don’t think fitness was a factor for either of us.”

Syed, who is currently ranked 24th in Canada for boys under-17, was happy just to make the open final.

“I didn’t even expect to get to the finals,” said Syed. “Earlier this week I sustained an injury. I went to the gymnastics gym and my knees hit my sternum. I might be getting X-rayed this week because it might be cracked. Every time I breathe in and out it hurts.”

Syed arrived in the final after beating the tournament’s top seed, Blain Bullas from Vancouver, 3-1 in the semifinal. Bullas went on to take third with a 3-0 win over Tyler Nesgaard.

Making the final represents the best finish for Syed in an adult division at the championship.

“I’m happy with this,” said Syed. “This is my first year in the open and I’m happy I got at least second.”

Surrey, B.C.‘s Michele Garceau defended her title in the open women’s division.

The 17-year-old went through the round-robin without dropping a game, defeating former champions Terri Cairns and Lori Muir. Cairns finished second and Muir third.

“We come here for fun, but winning’s a bonus,” said Garceau. “It’s one of the best tournaments of the year, for sure.

“We were invited last year and it was a blast. It was so much fun, everyone is so nice here. The atmosphere is nice and playing is fun here. They invited us again this year and I decided to come back.”

Garceau just moved into the under-19 division and is currently ranked sixth in Canada. She was third in under-17 before aging out last month.

She won the girls U-17 division at the B.C. Championships in March and placed third at nationals last month.

Garceau also won the open men’s consolation at the Yukon Open after losing a tough five-game match to Syed in the second round. She defeated Mark Tubman 3-0 in the consolation final.

Whitehorse junior Kai Knorr went undefeated in the men’s A draw to win his first adult title at the Yukon Open.

“It’s good to finally place in a home tournament,” said Knorr. “I wish I was in the open division … All and all, the games were pretty tough.

“I didn’t know what to expect because he’s from down south and I had never played him before. It was a tough match.”

The 17-year-old, who is ranked 40th in Canada for under-19 males, defeated Surrey’s Claude Garceau – Michele’s father – 14-16, 15-6, 15-12, 14-16, 15-5 in the final.

“I came last year and really enjoyed the trip and the hospitality, so I decided to come again this year,” said Claude, who played in a plus-55 division last year.

“This year there was no plus-55, so I had to play against young guys. I played against a 16- and a 17-year-old. That’s a little too much for an old guy like me.”

Knorr arrived in the final with a 3-0 win over third place’s Peter Mather in the semifinal.

“I won in three, but no point came easy,” said Knorr of the semi.

Junior Ehsan Idrees defeated Squash Yukon president Chris Toleman 3-2 to win the men’s A consolation.

Squash Yukon’s efforts to grow the sport appear to paying off with 20 youngsters competing for the junior title.

“Recently we gave free lessons to juniors who want to play, who haven’t tried squash,” said Squash Yukon pro Khoon Chua. “We had two series of five free lessons, which is a lot of free lessons.”

Nathan Abel won the junior division with a win over runner-up Kennedy “the Giant” Cairns in the final.

Issac Williamson beat Kayden King to claim third.

In the large junior division, the 20 juniors were split into four round-robins of five players with the top-two advancing into a bracket.

Abel, who won the junior division at the Squash Yukon’s Early Bird Tournament in October, went undefeated in the round-robin, as did Kennedy, Williamson and King.

Chris Ziegler defeated Taylor Love 3-2 to win the mixed B draw. Kamran Idrees took third and Kealan Campbell won the consolation.

Andre Benoit squeezed out a five-game win over Shermaine Chua to win the mixed C/D draw. Share Knorr took third and Sana Syed won the consolation.

Syed and Kai Knorr were the Yukon’s only players at the 2013 Canadian Junior Squash Championships last month in Richmond, B.C.

Syed lost in the second round of the under-17 boys division. Knorr went winless in under-19.

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