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Webber cruises through squash season opener

Of all the players who kicked off the squash season over the weekend, only one didn't drop a single game, no less a match.

Of all the players who kicked off the squash season over the weekend, only one didn’t drop a single game, no less a match.

Whitehorse’s Cameron Webber took top honours with three sound victories to win the Early Bird Squash Tournament at Better Bodies Whitehorse on Saturday.

The 33-year-old won three straight matches 3-0 to win the open A division in the season opener, defeating Mustafa Syed in the final.

“That was maybe only the second time I played him, so it was kind of a treat,” said Webber. “He plays such a nice game. He’s not easy to beat by any means.”

Webber, who won the tournament in 2013, beat 18-year-old Syed, who won it last year and in 2012, 15-10, 15-12, 18-16. It took four match points for Webber, a two-time Yukon squash champ, to finish off Syed in the third game.

Webber didn’t drop a game in his three matches, “but I should have,” he said. “Sam Penner almost got one off me. It was kind of the same situation as here (in the final), where I couldn’t close it out in the third game. I definitely didn’t want to play a fourth.”

Penner went on to claim third with a 3-2 win over Tyler Nesgaard, last year’s runner-up. Grayson Peters defeated Greg Grady 3-0 in the consolation final.

Chris Toleman picked up the mixed B division title with a narrow 3-2 come-from-behind win over Doug Thorseth in the final. Shahid Syed topped Glen Rudman 3-2 for third place. Jim Gilpin out played Lori Muir in the consolation final with a score of 3-1.

Jason Steele forged a win in the mixed C division defeating Gareth Earl 3-0 in the final. Andrew Bielz beat Mike Bernier 3-0 for third place. Jonathan Hawkings won the consolation with a 3-1 win over Muhammed Idrees.

Sean Lee won three straight round robin matches to take first in the mixed D division. Ivan Johnson took second, Susan Whitty third and Nathalie Lee fourth.

The Early Bird tournament marked the first event held by Squash Yukon since it implemented an array of changes for the season.

The sport’s governing body did not renew its contract with Eng Khoon Chua, who took over as its head coach and program co-ordinator in 2010, Squash Yukon announced in September.

Instead, Squash Yukon has divided tasks such as coaching, tournament organization and marketing, in hopes of revitalizing the sport with an emphasis on junior development.

Four players, who all went through Squash Yukon’s junior programs, including Webber and multiple-time Yukon champ Julien Revel, have taken on coaching and instruction duties. In addition to on-court instruction, the four will oversee the Junior Development Squad for high-level juniors to travel to Outside tournaments, and the Grassroots Development Squad for beginner and novice junior players.

Marie Desmarais, who was Squash Yukon’s head coach for more than 20 years before stepping down after the 2009/10 season, will take over the organization of tournaments and leagues.

Pixie Ingram, who used to work for the marketing business Outside the Cube, will handle Squash Yukon’s marketing.

“We have the junior program going and a couple of them were in the tournament. Yeah, it’s a good kick-off to the season,” said Webber.

“Pixie has been here 24 hours a day, it seems like, holding down the fort. It’s her first time (organizing) it and it seemed to go off without a hitch.”

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