PRINCE GEORGE, B.C.
Yukon’s female squash team was in a losing situation before they even stepped on court last week.
They played the four-person team event with only three players at the Canada Winter Games in Prince George. So for every round against a province or territory, they forfeited the first of four matches.
The advantage given to the opposing teams was not enough for Newfoundland and Northwest Territories. Yukon beat the province and territory to place 10th out of 12 teams.
“It’s a big surprise,” said Yukon head coach Khoon Chua. “They almost couldn’t form a team. They had a team with three players and placed 10th out of 12. That’s quite an achievement.”
“I feel we did really good, especially because we only had three girls and the other teams had four,” said Yukon player Ava Cairns-Locke. “So I felt that 10 out of 12 was really achieving our goal … We all worked really hard as a team and I felt it was a good way to finish.”
The Yukon squash squad – Cairns-Locke, Sana Syed and Katrina Dobush – handled N.W.T. without much difficulty in the preliminary round.
They then downed Newfoundland eight games to six in their crossover matchup.
Yukon then lost 9-4 in games to New Brunswick in the placement round for ninth and 10th.
“It was super fun,” said Cairns-Locke. “Katrina (Dobush) and I really made close friends with the New Brunswick squash team and it was just a super good experience. It was all of our first Games. I’m eligible for the next Games … so I’m really looking forward to them because I had a lot of fun here.”
As someone who wants to make friends and keeps her cool out on the court, Cairns-Locke earned an award for most sportsmanlike player as selected by the referees.
“I was happy, but I didn’t really know what was going on – I didn’t know I was going to get it,” said Cairns. “I try not to get too frustrated and I try to be as respectful as I can to my opponent because I like to make friends with them afterwards.”
While Yukon’s female team finished with a loss to New Brunswick, the male team finished with a win against the province.
Yukon’s male team, which had four players, topped New Brunswick 9-3 in games to place 11th out of 12 teams.
“We were not the last, let’s look at it that way,” said Chua.
Yukon’s male team – Mackenzie Cameron, Logan Harris, Eshan Idrees and Mustafa Syed – went winless in the preliminary rounds.
They then dropped a close one to N.W.T. in a crossover matchup, winning two of four matches but losing 8-7 in games through a countback.
Yukon also had two players – Mustafa and Sana Syed – compete in the individual event in Prince George. However, both were eliminated in the first round after drawing the No. 2 ranked players in Canada.
“We get to meet so many people our age who play squash, and we don’t find that in Whitehorse,” said Sana. “We’re not used to meeting people our age who are super skilled in the sport. So it’s a really cool experience and I’m having a lot of fun.”
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