The Racquet Club’s high-performance outfit was back out on the road last weekend and the trip produced something which has perhaps never happened before.
Sofia Ardiles, Loic Hipfner and Joe DePew were the trio of players that took on the Canadian Junior Closed Championships in Victoria from May 5 to 8. Of the three, Ardiles had perhaps the best result of them all as she took home top spot in the U13 girls silver division, winning all five of her matches in the six-player round-robin tournament.
Jeff Hipfner, the club’s head squash pro, was there as the coach and said he’s pretty sure it’s the first time a girls player has won a title at the event.
“I don’t remember when, but it has been a while since one of our athletes has finished first at the championships and Sofia may be the first U13 girl to do so,” he said. “She was in control of all her matches — a couple of them were closer than others but she played really well and dominated over the competition.”
DePew was in the U15 boys silver division while Loic Hipfner took on the U17 boys silver division, both in a bracket format. They each ended up winning two matches along the way.
“The first matches are always going to be the toughest because you’re getting used to the style of play down south,” said coach Hipfner. “But you start getting stronger as it goes and you start gaining confidence. They’re strong players, up and coming, and it paid off for them. They played really well.”
The reason all three played in the silver division is because of the seeding format. In order to play in the gold division, players have to apply in order to be seeded in the top 16 and play for the big prize.
Coach Hipfner said having a silver division isn’t a guaranteed thing every year and it all depends on whether the host city can accommodate the extra matches.
“We were lucky in Victoria because they were able to hold it across two clubs,” he said. “Winnipeg is hosting it next year so it’s possible they may have a silver event, but the silver event was great for our players. Great opportunity to play at a high calibre and it was great for them to witness some high-quality squash played on the glass court.”
This was the final road trip of the season for the high-performance squad — the Territorial Squash Championships at the end of the month will be the season wrap-up — and coach Hipfner is already looking toward next season.
“We’re looking at doing more tournaments down south,” he said. “The boys are preparing for Canada Winter Games — still looking at what will happen with the girls — but they need some more experience, especially for the Canada Games.”
Hipfner will be the head coach for whatever that team looks like for the Games in Charlottetown next March and he will do so with his brand-new provincial-level coaching certification, which he obtained while in Victoria after successfully passing his evaluations.