And with that, the squash season in Yellowknife has come to an end.
The Territorial Squash Championships at the Racquet Club earlier this month brought down the curtain on the competitive season with seven champions crowned on the final day, June 5. Some familiar names graced the top three places in each of those divisions.
Jeff Hipfner, the club’s head squash pro, said the numbers for this year’s tournament were around the same as last year.
“We had 70 participants this year, pretty close to last year,” he said. “It’s a weird time of year because you have people starting to leave town for vacation but we’re happy with the turnout.”
The championships featured some out-of-town flavour with three players coming in from Fort Smith and two from Ontario. One of those Ontarians was Melina Turk, whose name you may remember as the former head squash pro at the club.
On the court, Devin Madsen was once again on top of the pile in the top division as he beat Nathan Hall, the other squash tourist from Ontario, in the final. Stephen Messier ended up in third.
Division 2’s champion was Loic Hipfner as he defeated Finley Armstrong for the title while Ethan Milkowski ended up third. Joe Depew won Division 3 over Alex Godfrey with Division 4 going to Ryan Bachynski, courtesy of his win over Sofia Ardiles.
The Women’s Juniper Division featured an all-Fort Smith battle for the top as Allie McDonald was able to defeat Nashra Kamal for the title. Edyta Ratajczyk of Yellowknife was third.
McDonald, who prevailed without dropping a set in any of her matches, said both she and Kamal treated the final like any other game they play back home.
“Nash isn’t very competitive but I am,” she said. “We play together all the time and we had a lot of fun.”
In the Junior A Aurora Division, Logan Doll beat out Will Kanigan to win while Mikka Pike took the Junior B Tundra Division honours with a win over Tanika Pike.
Figuring out who played in each division was organized through a ranking system, said Hipfner.
“What I’ve done the last couple of tournaments is I get players to enter either mixed, women’s or juniors and whenever they play, they get their ratings in the Club Locker program,” he said. “The divisions are set based on those ratings, so the top eight were in the top division, the next eight best were in Division 2 and so on.”
Something else Hipner did was split up each division into two pools of players, which guaranteed each player four games.
“I could’ve done a bracket format, but that would’ve only given everyone three games,” he said. “Having every player play three round-robin pool games gave them one more game in a playoff. The top player in each pool went on to play for the title, next two played for third and so on.”
That’s how it happened for McDonald and Kamal as both finished first in their respective pool, though McDonald said they both could’ve played a bit higher.
“Going into it, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into,” she said. “After playing, I think we should’ve been in the open divisions but you just don’t know until you play.”
With the season now over, Hipfner said the plan is to get back up and running by mid-September with the tournament dates for next season settled by the end of this month.
“I’m looking to get back into it by October at the earliest,” he said. “It’ll hopefully be a regular season because we haven’t had one of those in a couple of years.”