Three squash juniors improved their national rankings by competing at the 2012 Canadian Junior Squash Championships last weekend in Toronto.
Whitehorse brothers Mustafa and Zain Syed, and Victoria, B.C.‘s Matt Henderson, who is living in the Yukon for six months, competed.
Mustafa had the greatest success, taking two wins and two losses to reach the consolation’s round of 16 in the boys under-15 division in Toronto.
He is now ranked 19th in Canada for his age group.
“I think I played better when I was more into the tournament because I got more used to the courts,” said Mustafa. “I played really well in my last match. If I wasn’t injured, I could have gone to the semis.”
Mustafa almost took a game off the No. 5 player in Canada, Jack Greenwood, in the main draw. He was then eliminated by Alexander Riedelsheimer, the 11th ranked player in Canada for under-15, after sustaining an injury.
“I was up 2-1 and I got injured; his racquet hit my collarbone and I was bleeding and stuff,” said Mustafa. “I continued playing but he beat me in five (games). It was close.”
Having recently turned 17, Zain found himself facing some tough competition in the under-19 draw.
“Basically, everyone who was in my division was at a very high level,” said Zain. “Many are coming back from university. In fact, the No. 1, 2 and 3 are all from Harvard.”
Harvard, like most Ivy League schools, is a powerhouse in squash.
Unlike last year, in which he picked up a pair of wins in under-17, Zain went winless. He is currently ranked 39th for boys under 19.
“I did better than I thought I would,” said Zain. “I played against the 14th, 15th and 16th seeds in Canada.
“In my first match I lost against the 14th seed. The first game I got within two points (of winning). I tried to come back but he was a much stronger player than me.”
Henderson, competing in under-15, also ran into some tough competition.
“I kind of had an unlucky draw – I played the No. 2 seed first,” said Henderson.
After losing to No. 2’s Alexi Gosset, Henderson advanced through the first round of the consolation draw with a four-game win. Henderson is currently ranked 16th in Canada for under-15.
“More or less, I mostly played for the Yukon,” said the temporary Yukoner.
The Syed brothers both represented the Yukon at the 2011 Canada Winter Games last year in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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