Yukon’s top squash title has left the territory.
In a weekend trip to the capital, Vancouver’s Pierce Masuhara won the open division at the Yukon Open squash championship on Saturday at Better Bodies Whitehorse.
“It was a really great tournament, I had a great time, and the final was really fun. It was just a fantastic weekend,” said Masuhara.
“It’s a really different atmosphere, especially coming from juniors where it’s very competitive at times and you go in with a very intensive mindset. At this tournament everyone is really inclusive and just opened up their arms to me and welcomed me into the Yukon squash family. It was just a really nice atmosphere to be a part of for the weekend.”
For years Masuhara has been hearing about the Yukon championship from his friend Stephen Grundmanis of Whitehorse, but this past weekend was the first time he could make it.
Masuhara plays for the varsity team at Western University in London, Ont., which won the Ontario University Athletics squash championship a 33rd year in a row and the NCAA Division 4 title this past season.
The 20-year-old took the Yukon crown with an 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-1 win over two-time champ Cameron Webber of Whitehorse in the final.
“It kind of went the way I expected. I watched Pierce play his other two matches and he looked well equipped to take a win in the tournament,” said Webber, 34, Squash Yukon’s head coach. “I got a game off him. It was kind of some luck and some lapses on his part in the second game – that was the only reason I was able to squeak one out. He has youth and fitness and a heck of a lot of skill on his side.”
Masuhara began his run with a win over Whitehorse’s Jane Bell, the only woman players in the open division, before he topped Grundmanis in the semifinal.
Grundmanis went on to take third with an 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 win over fourth place’s Grayson Peters.
For the first time since 2013, the championship offered an all-women category. Arielle Meynen won the women’s novice division, added this year to help develop female participation, with three wins and a loss in round robin play. Brenna MacPhail took second place.
“The idea came from (Squash Yukon league and tournament organizer) Marie Desmarais, who has been running two-day women’s clinics for beginners and intermediate players on weekends,” said Squash Yukon president Stephen Buckler. “Squash Yukon has identified that we need more female participants. I believe the clinics and women-only divisions provide the support and opportunity to develop our women squash players. Once we get new players onto the court, the game tends to sell itself.”
Nicholas Terry picked up the mixed A division title with a 15-13, 15-7, 14-16, 15-13 win over Michael Tilbrook in the final. Kevin Daffe, who lost to Terry in the semifinal, came third with a win over Doug Thorseth.
Drew Osborne downed Benjamin Grundmanis in three games to win the mixed B division. Matt Brown came third with a win over Alex Jobin.
Cathy MacDonald went undefeated in four round-robin matches to finish at the top of the mixed C division while Brian Larnder took second.
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