The beautiful White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake played host to the 2013 Canadian Junior Open last December 7th to 10th. 270 participants from all around the globe took part at the U13, U15, U17 and U19 level. Janel Gaube, Grace Thomas, Jason Yoo, Robert Fisher, and Euan Hannigan all represented SMUS with distinction. With all but Hannigan in the first year of their respective divisions, the competition was extremely tough.
While Gaube lost her first match in five hard fought games to a Trinidad and Tobago opponent, she then bounced back to beat a girl from Guatemala 3-1. However her tournament ended in the next match following a narrow defeat.
Yoo dropped his first two matches, against a Colombian and then to a South African competitor. Undeterred, he battled back from two games down to prevail in a best of five and was on the verge of doing the same a second time before falling 3-2.
Fisher, in the same division as Yoo, lost his three matches to players from England, India, and Quebec, but acquitted himself extremely well.
Hannigan interestingly drew four consecutive opponents from Ontario, going 1-3 but performing very well.
Finally, Thomas, who went into the event unseeded, started with a straight set win before upsetting the 4th seed, a talented Mexican, 13-11 in the final and deciding game. Then, in the quarter-finals she went up two games to love and looked to be in control. However, her South African opponent picked up her game and fought back to bring the match into a tie-breaker. Though Thomas then went down 10-6 in the fifth set, she then won six straight rallies in a stunning fashion to advance yet again.
In the final four, Thomas ended up vs the #1 and #2 Canadian seeds. While she lost both matches, the 4th place final result was an amazing achievement for someone only 15 years old and a relative unknown entering the competition.
2014 kicks off with several tournaments. Many SMUS athletes will compete in the BC Junior Open January 17-19 in Vancouver. The following week, the school will host the ISAs on January 25th. This is a team event, with the girls looking to recapture their title from last year, while the junior and senior boys seek to improve upon their third place finish. It will be a great opportunity for peers, parents, and staff to come out and watch some of the best junior squash players in the province.