Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. – Streaks come and go across the sporting realm, but one that has stood the test of time over the years is that of the Western men’s squash team, who will once again bring their winning ways to the courts for the latest installment of the OUA Squash Championships. The Mustangs, along with the Queen’s Gaels women’s team, will have their eyes on keeping their streaks intact and once again bringing home the gold to their respective schools when they head to the White Oaks Resort & Spa from February 8 to 10.
The Mustangs men have galloped through the university competition for several decades now to the tune of 35 straight championships, and like last year, David Mill (Windsor, Ont.) will be among those representing the purple and white on the courts. The reigning OUA men’s MVP and all-star stood tall once again at last year’s event, finishing 6-0 at the provincial finale in 2018, and his dominance has continued over into this year. At Jester’s Crossover #1, the Mustangs star went undefeated in Western’s No. 1 spot and he’ll have his eyes on the prize in a similar role this weekend.
Another of last year’s all-stars and championship standouts, Matt Henderson (Victoria, B.C.), should also be a key contributor in Western’s quest for their 36th straight banner and 46th overall.
The women’s team, meanwhile, rounded out the purple ponies’ results a year ago in the bronze medal position, and if they are eyeing similar, if not greater, success at White Oaks this year, a rookie will be a major contributor. Catherine Giachino (Ottawa, Ont.) picked up nine wins and just one loss throughout the season – with the loss coming against one of the province’s best – and she’ll be tasked with maintaining that impressive play in the No. 1 spot this weekend.
The aforementioned loss suffered by Giachino came at the hands of Queen’s Gaels Sydney Maxwell and the Tricolour’s No. 1, along with the team as a whole, will be a tough competitor this weekend as well. The Gaels have been among the truly elite squads over the years on the women’s side, earning 14 banners to date (including a 41-4 gold-medal winning record a year ago), and they’ll turn to Maxwell and company to bring their grand total to 15 and extend their current championship streak to five straight.
Alongside Maxwell is Amelia Knapp, who like her teammate, shone at the last Jester’s Crossover event, playing out of the No. 2 position. Together, this duo has helped Queen’s secure the top spot in the league heading into this final weekend.
The men’s side should see contributions from reigning OUA Rookie of the Year, Alex Collins, who was among those that earned the Gaels a bronze medal finish at last year’s event.
The reigning silver medalists on the women’s side will be back in action and eyeing another podium result despite the loss of five-time OUA all-star Evelyn Moorhouse. With an 8-3 record through the 2018-19 Jester’s league schedule, the Toronto Varsity Blues have shown their ability to succeed on the court, and second-year Rhea Dhar (Toronto, Ont.) has been a big reason for that continued success. The Toronto native has stepped into U of T’s No. 1 position this season and notched a 6-5 record in Jester’s play.
Juana Chaves (St. Catharines, Ont.) and Emma Kent (Calgary, Alta.) round out Toronto’s top three this weekend, both moving up a spot from their positions at last year’s championship event.
While their female counterparts cracked the podium last year, the Blues men came just short with a fourth-place finish. With a top-ranked result in the Jester’s league, however, finishing at 12-1, there is plenty of optimism for the Toronto squad heading into Niagara. Leading the Blues this season has been first-year standout Josh Hollings (Nobleton, Ont.), and he’ll bring his undefeated record into the championships as Toronto’s No. 1 player. Yusuf Shalaby (Mississauga, Ont.) and Matt Lau (Mississauga, Ont.) are expected to round out the Blues contingent this weekend.
Flipping the script from the Varsity Blues results a year ago, the Waterloo Warriors will bring their silver-medal winning men’s squad to White Oaks for a shot at replicating their podium success for another year. Thomas Manley (Barrie, Ont.) should be a significant factor in the black and gold’s championship aspirations, and in his second year of action, the 2017-18 OUA all-star enters championship play as the top-ranked player. Ravi Seth (Fergus, Ont.) will be another one to watch for the third-ranked team heading into this weekend’s festivities.
Another reigning all-star will be at the helm of the women’s team, as former OUA all-rookie Charlotte Copas (Toronto, Ont.) headlines the Waterloo squad’s attempt at their second ever women’s squash title. The third-year player won all of her matches at the Jester’s Crossover in November, while the women as a whole sit fourth going into championships, which should help them build on their sixth-place finish at last year’s provincial finale.
Heading down the road to this year’s event are the Brock Badgers, who will be clawing for their spot on the podium as well this weekend. For the St. Catharines squad, they’ll turn to one of the most decorated players in their program to lead the charge, as Andrea Chaves (St. Catharines, Ont.) is once again ready to hit the courts. The fourth-year star already has a pair of OUA all-star nods under her belt, in addition to the conference’s Rookie of the Year award and school MVP honours for two years, so she’ll certainly be looking to add to her resume with another strong championship effort.
Just like Chaves has shone for the Badgers program, Mohammed Hamour (Niagara Falls, Ont.) has done the same and his accolades prove it. A four-time OUA all-star and four-time Brock MVP, Hamour has been leading the charge once again for the Badgers this year, and along with a talented group of incoming players, will make up one of the best teams they’ve had to date. This men’s group will be looking to bring home the school’s first medal in program history, while the exponentially expanding women’s side is looking to add to their bronze from 2017.
Like the Badgers, the McMaster Marauders will be focused on rising the ranks at this year’s event. The team finished fifth and seventh, respectively, a year ago, but there will be plenty of talent chomping at the bit to bring the Marauders to the forefront this time around.
Emily Terry (Halifax, N.S.) will buoy the women’s squad, and while she is a first-year Marauder, Terry has plenty of experience on her side after previously competing at St. Lawrence College in New York. She joins the maroon machine in a leading role this year and given the injection of Terry to the roster that already includes returnees Marina Botros (Mississauga, Ont.) and Olivia Waite (Toronto, Ont.), McMaster has a possible podium finish on the horizon.
The men’s squad will be led by player-coach Mikale Reddy (Ancaster, Ont.). The fifth-year veteran is a seasoned competitor with four OUA championships under his belt, and that experience should bode well for the team’s previous No. 2, as he looks to help the transitioning program that is largely made up of a young group of players.
Rounding out the squash contingent at this year’s event will be the Guelph Gryphons, who placed sixth a year ago on the men’s side with a 16-38 record.
The first matches of the weekend will get underway on Friday, February 8 at 2:00pm and will continue on throughout the three days of championship play. The final matches will wrap up the schedule on Sunday afternoon.