Streaking Western, Queen’s looking to squash the competition in championship action

Streaking Western, Queen’s looking to squash the competition in championship action

BURLINGTON, Ont. – It has been a successful streak to say the least for Western Mustangs men’s squash, who will put their 34 consecutive provincial titles on the line at the 2018 Squash Championship. Alongside the dominant Mustangs will be an impressive women’s squad from Queen’s, as the Gaels enter this weekend’s play with three consecutive banners under their belt.

Details surrounding the upcoming championship can be found in the 2018 Squash Championship Fan Guide.

Western will be looking to continue their purple reign in championship play this weekend, with the hopes of bringing home their unprecedented 35th consecutive title. If the Mustangs want to make this a reality, they have certainly been setting themselves up for success in the lead up. In one of their more recent efforts at the University of Toronto, the purple ponies swept the tournament with big wins over Brock, McMaster, Toronto, and McGill; something they have done on multiple occasions throughout the season.

Among those Western standouts who will be vying for the title will be second year players Matthew Henderson and David Mill, both of whom saw great success in their inaugural efforts at last year’s championship. The latter, a 2017 OUA All-Star, has continued his strong play into this year, highlighted by terrific individual play south of the border. Mill put a stamp on his second consecutive strong campaign with a daunting bout against the number one seed from Cornell. Additional strong play from Gavin Maxwell will also help set the Mustangs up for another shot at victory this weekend.

On the women’s side, the Mustangs will be relying on the strong play of Amy Commisso, who has battled her way to a successful campaign against some best and brightest within and beyond the OUA. Lindsey Smith has also seen success for the purple and white this season, even starting off her campaign with a clean sweep in Kingston, while first year student Lisette Royan has contributed a solid freshman campaign to help set Western up with a dynamic and capable championship squad.

Join the Mustangs in the women’s draw is a ferocious female attack from the Queen’s Gaels that has helped them earn three straight provincial titles. After recently completing their fifth and final tournament of the season, the Gaels will be primed and ready for another lengthy championship run. Key figures for the Gaels will be Alysha Anzik – who is peaking at the right time ahead of the OUA finale – along with the battle-tested Nora Abdelrahman Ibrahim, both of whom have gone toe-to-toe with some of the best the OUA has to offer.   

For the Queen’s men, the team will be led by Cameron Butler, the 2015-16 OUA Rookie of the Year and reigning OUA All-Star, in the hopes of improving on the team’s sixth place finish from a year ago. The Toronto, Ont. native, who has helped carry the Gaels at multiple events this season, will be joined by a talented roster that recently earned a first place finish at the 2018 Jester’s Finals, prevailing over Toronto (4-3) in the finals. These additional Tricolour standouts include Alex Collins, Alex Dorbyk, and Spencer Lee, among others.

Another team that found success at last year’s championships is the McMaster Marauders, who will strive to march their way onto the podium once again this year. The reigning silver medal winning men’s squad will be led by player-coach Patrick Morkus. The reigning OUA Most Valuable Player has been named an OUA All-Star each of the past five seasons – as well as earning Rookie of the Year honours in 2011 – and will surely be putting his award-winning pedigree on display at this weekend’s finale.

On the women’s side, 2017 OUA Rookie of the Year Olivia Waite will be one of McMaster’s top competitors once again. The Toronto, Ont. native has been a leading figure for the Marauders, and along with fourth year Talia Macdougall, will be looking to lead the maroon machine to a podium finish in 2018 after falling just short a year ago.

Rounding out the men’s podium at last year’s championship event were the Waterloo Warriors, who will be looking for a similar success this time around.  Ones to watch for the medal-hopeful Warriors will be Ravi Seth and Marisa Seth – siblings of Cameron Seth (3-time OUA champion), Micaala Seth (3-time OUA champion), and Natasha Seth (1-time OUA champion) – both of whom will hope to continue this string to family success.

Ravi, the reigning OUA Rookie of the Year, led Waterloo in wins this year at the crossovers, helping the team to successful efforts against the likes of Ryerson (6-1), Toronto (4-3), Ottawa (7-0), and Brock (7-0), among others. The entire black and gold squad will be looking to double down on these efforts and once again fight for top spot on the biggest OUA stage this season.

The University of Toronto Varsity Blues, meanwhile, will also make the trek to Kingston, Ont., and will do so behind a strong blend of experience and youth.

Toronto’s women, who are coming off a first place finish at the Jester’s Final this past weekend, are led by 2016 OUA MVP and three-time OUA All-Star, Evelyn Moorhouse. The Blues No. 1 player has been tough to stop this year and has led Toronto to a 12-1 record versus OUA competition, including a pair of  wins over the reigning champion Queen’s Gaels. Certainly, with this impressive resume from the season, the squad will be looking to bounce back from last year’s sixth-place finish and be aiming for the podium this weekend. 

The Blues men are coming into the championships just as impressive as the women. In their last eight matches, Toronto has only fallen twice, including one hard-fought defeat at the hands of the defending champion Mustangs (4-3) at the Jester’s Crossover #2; a loss they avenged in this weekend’s Jester’s semifinal play en route to their eventual second place finish.

Rookie standout Sam Burley has assumed Toronto’s No. 1 spot and is expected to turn heads this weekend. Combined with fifth-year veterans Alexandre Garceau and Yusuf Shalaby, the Blues look to be one of the most dangerous teams in the quest to dethrone the reigning champion Mustangs.

Guelph struggled to find success at last year’s championship, but will be looking to turn the tides this time around with a veteran squad leading the charge. Two key Gryphons to watch are fifth year players Quinton Nurse and Joel Seider, who have been the top two threats for Guelph this season. The graduating duo are solid, mature players who understand how to play to their strengths, and the pair will be joined by newcomer Mohammed Salemwalla.  The first year player has been thrust into a tough role this season amidst injuries and absences, but has played well in his first year of action with the ability to raise his level to any opponent he plays.

The team has done well in tournament play as of late, taking some key games off of top teams and playing competitive matches against the field; something that they are hopeful will continue into this weekend. Overall, the Gryphons are hoping that this string of recent success, along with their impressive and well-tested team depth will anchor their championship efforts.

Brock will round out the seven team roster vying for the titles and will do so as the reigning women’s bronze medalists. The Badgers will turn to captain Andrea Chaves to spark similar results for the Brock in this year’s event, just as she did as an OUA All-Star in 2017. The men’s team, meanwhile – unlike the women – was unable to improve upon their fifth place finish from the prior championship, playing their way to that same result in 2017. Once again, though, they will be led by 2017 OUA All-Star Mohamed Hamour in their quest to take the next step and challenge for a place on the podium.

The three-day schedule kicks off on Friday, February 9, with the first matches getting underway at 4:00pm. Play will continue through the day on Saturday, February 10, and wrap up at 4:00pm on Sunday, at which point the banner presentation will take place, and award winners and All-Stars will be announced.