Seven Yukoners were among 95 juniors to compete at the BC Open squash tournament over the weekend in Vancouver. However, Kai Knorr stood out from Yukon’s squad, winning all three of his matches to take first in the U-15B division.
“I’m very excited for him,” said Squash Yukon and Better Bodies coach Marie Desmarais. “He was well matched and he did very well.”
After a four-setter Friday and a tight five-setter Saturday, Knorr wrung in the title with a 11-5, 11-4, 11-5 win over Mathew Royle Sunday.
“He took the introductory lessens and then the next step up in my program is the junior development squad,” said Desmarais of Knorr. “He’s been a natural athlete and he’s taking lots of lessons and playing a lot. He’s playing in the adult league on Thursdays.
“He’s working hard and getting better.”
Other noteworthy performances by Yukoners include Stephen Grundmanis who won two of his five matches in U-15 boys and Kelly Panchyshyn who won her final match in the U-15 girls, going fives sets, 11-4, 5-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9 over Rebecca Jackson.
Other Yukoners competing were Sophia Flather in U-19, Jeanette Carney in U-17B, Jack Woodwalker in U-13B and Coleman Newell in U-15B.
“They all did well, and quite a few of the games went to 11-9,” said Desmarais.
Because of a lack of players in her age division, Flather, 15, was forced to play in the U-19 category, which increased the level of competition she faced.
“There wasn’t enough competitors in the under-17, so they just combined them,” said Desmarais. “Sometimes they do that.
“She’s pretty solid in her skills, but if you’re 15 playing an 18-year-old, it’s pretty tough. But she did well. She got some points and had some sustained rallies.”
Depending on the number of players, some divisions used a round robin format while others used a draw or double-elimination formats.
“They guarantee three matches—they are supposed to be guaranteed three matches—but some kids pulled out because they were injured or they default,” said Desmarais. “So sometimes, unfortunately, they only got two matches.
“Most of them had three matches.”
The tournament operated under a scoring system new to squash called PARS (point a rally scoring) in which the competitor returning serve is awarded a point if he/she wins the rally, instead of only the server. It is similar to the change made in volleyball scoring in recent years.
“This is the first time we played under the new scoring the squash federation is beginning to implement,” said Desmarais. “It was different, but it can make the game more exciting because every time you rally there’s a point made. You realize very quickly that you don’t want to make any unforced errors.
“They did really well adjusting to it and eliminating unforced errors.”
Many of Yukon’s junior players will be heading to the Pacific Northwest Tournament being held February 14-15 in Victoria, BC.
“That’s generating a lot of excitement there because they’re anticipating over 200 juniors there and they get all the schools involved,” said Desmarais. “It should be a very exciting tournament because of the numbers.”
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GOLDEN BOY… Kai Knorr won in the U-15B division./Caption