Squash season opens with handicap tourney

One point made all the difference at the end of the Dust Off the Shoes squash tournament at Better Bodies Whitehorse on Saturday. Usually a player needs to win by two points, but not in a timed tournament.

One point made all the difference at the end of the Dust Off the Shoes squash tournament at Better Bodies Whitehorse on Saturday.

Usually a player needs to win by two points, but not in a timed tournament. In a close, timed match it pays to know how much is left on the clock.

“There’s a bit of strategy there,” said Kyle Marchuk. “I heard someone yell ‘30 seconds’ and in the last point when I was up by one, I was lobbing the ball, keeping it slow, making sure the point wasn’t over right away.”

Marchuk ran the clock out to win Division 1 of the tournament, which marked the launch of Squash Yukon’s 2013-14 season. He won 33-32 over runner-up Kai Knorr in the final.

“That was my first time playing Kai, and the guy hustles like no one I’ve seen,” said Marchuk. “The guy gets to everything. When they keep it in play, it doesn’t have to be a great shot or anything. It just makes you make one more shot and you never know, you can make an unforced error, which happens often.”

Within the tournament’s handicap format lower ranked players were given a certain amount of points to begin with when playing higher ranked players. The winner was decided by who had the most points at the end of 17-minute time slots.

Knorr was given an eight-point lead at the start of the final.

“It was definitely much tougher than I was expecting,” said Knorr. “I think this was the first time I’ve played him and it was definitely a neck-to-neck competition.

“I think it was a pretty decent tournament for the beginning of the season.

“No one has made me work that hard in a long time. Mixing up his shots. Usually I can’t be deceived that much – lots of drops and lobs were tricking me.”

Dylan Letang placed third in Division 1 with a win over Lori Muir.

The Division 2 final didn’t end with a one-point gap but a more dramatic comeback.

“He was killing me. It was game over,” said winner Jodi Tuton. Or so she thought.

Tuton fought back from down 11-1 to defeat finalist Matt Brown 42-39 for the division title. The two players, who are also co-workers, had the same handicap and therefore began the match at 0-0.

“Matt and I play together often and so I told myself I couldn’t give up,” said Tuton. “So I had to give him a good enough game to beat me and somehow I came back.”

Andre Benoit snagged third with a win over Shirley Chua. Jen Meurer won the consolation round, topping Doug Dawley in the final.

Isaac Williamson claimed first in the junior division with a 57-43 win over Katrina Dobush. It was Williamson’s first tournament win.

The 12-year-old has been playing for just one year. Friends from Elijah Smith Elementary, where he attends school, convinced him to take up the sport.

Williamson tried to keep Dobush on the run, he said.

“Movement,” explained Williamson. “I tried to make her move as much as I could.”

Dylan Massie placed third with a win over Christine Miral in the junior division’s bronze match.

Kayden King was first in the junior consolation with a win over Emily Johnson.

Squash Yukon plans to hold the Early Bird Squash Tournament in the middle of October.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com