Women’s squash tourney a hit

Squash Yukon's first-ever Women's Tournament saw a good turnout and concluded with an exciting final with two territorial champs facing off Saturday at Better Bodies Whitehorse.

Squash Yukon’s first-ever Women’s Tournament saw a good turnout and concluded with an exciting final with two territorial champs facing off Saturday at Better Bodies Whitehorse.

In the A division final, 2010 Yukon women’s champ Terri Cairns narrowly defeated 2009 Yukon B division champ Lia Johnson 9-15, 16-14, 15-11, 10-15, 15-13.

“There were so many shots I made here I was like, ‘I got it,’ and she comes out from nowhere and hits this killer shot,” said Cairns. “That was the best match that Lia and I have ever played. Either of us could have won.”

“It was an amazing match,” said Johnson. “It was point for point and we both played really well. Terri is really fun to play against.

“We usually do cross paths in tournaments, but I think that was special because we were both playing our A games.”

In the decisive fifth game, neither player achieved more than a one-point lead, reaching about a dozen tie-scorers, before Cairns moved out to 14-12. After closing the gap a point, Johnson got tied-up in the corner, losing the point and match.

“Terri is quite a powerful player, she hits the ball hard and that’s not necessarily my strength, so I really had to focus on slowing it down and taking the time to play at my pace,” said Johnson.

In the match for third Elmy Harris defeated Emilie Herdes in three straight games.

The tournament finals took place on World Squash Day, on which the World Squash Federation placed a theme of women’s participation, with women’s tournaments taking place around the world.

With about 20 participants in the local tourney, the day was a success for Squash Yukon.

In fact, Division B winner, Genevieve Gay, was playing in her first tournament.

“I hope they keep going with this tournament because it’s a good way to meet squash partners and it encourages more people to play in tournaments,” said Gay. “Someone came up to me and asked if I wanted to play (in the tournament) and I was so excited that someone even asked.”

Gay captured her title with a 15-8, 15-6, 12-15, 15-10 win over Carley Gabbott in the final.

“Carley was an excellent opponent. I think we were the most well matched of the games that I played, as in style, not necessarily as in skill,” said Gay. “Both of us play more of an inaccurate, athletic game … I don’t think either of us is very experienced playing squash, but we’re both experienced playing sports. So it’s more running around than hitting precise shots.”

Gay advanced to the final with a tight five-game match against Share Knorr, who went on to take third with a default win over Shirley Chua.

Winning in the consolation draw was Tia Oster, who represented the Yukon at the Canada Winter Games in Halifax last February, defeating Vickie Roche in four games.

In the C division, which ran in a round-robin format, Marcie Stenzig went undefeated to snag first place, dropping only two games in four matches. Taking second was Stephanie Grant while Cathy MacDonald took third.

“The goal of the tournament was to celebrate the women playing squash in our community and it worked out really well,” said tournament director Chris Cullingham. “In most (local) tournaments they are playing with the guys and are not playing each other so much. So this was a chance for them to play each other more.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com