J.H. Sissons School won the Yellowknife Schools Squash Tournament, held at the Racquet Club on Oct. 6. But they didn’t know that until contacted by Yellowknifer to talk about it on Wednesday. Surprise.
The school finished on top of the overall standings with 21 team points, beating out St. Joe’s in second. N.J. Macpherson, last year’s winners, had to settle for third.
When Yellowknifer contacted Stephane Sevigny, J.H. Sissons’ coach, he had been anxiously waiting to hear about the results.
“They told us we would know after the tournament but we hadn’t heard anything,” he said. “It’s a nice surprise and I’m really happy for the kids but I had an idea we would be close to the top from how our kids were doing in their games.”
The rules were modified from traditional squash in a few ways. Serves didn’t have to cross the short line by the service boxes in order to count but did have to go above the service line on the wall. Each game was also a 10-minute affair with players trying to score as many points as they could in that time. Whoever won a game earned a point for their team. J.H. Sissons did that 21 times.
Melina Turk, the club’s head squash pro, said the rules were tweaked to allow for more action out on the courts.
“We wanted the kids to have rallies and score points instead of having them miss a serve and give up the point that way,” she said.
The traditional small black squash ball also gave way to the blue dot ball, a larger and softer ball that bounces more than a regular squash ball, she added, and that also helped the players.
To get ready for the tournament, Turk went around to all seven of the participating schools to hold squash clinics during phys-ed classes and that was a bit of an adventure in itself.
“A lot of them didn’t know what squash was at first,” she said. “But they know what tennis is like and so the best way to describe it to them was a tennis court folded in half.”
When it came to J.H. Sissons, Sevigny said the students got a chance to get in some extra practice time during the lunch hours leading up to the tournament.
“All of the teachers worked together as a team to help the kids get their practice,” he said. “The set-up that the club had was great because they integrated fitness with the racquet skills. It was a good program for everyone to take part in.”
Each school was able to enter up to eight players – two boys and two girls in each of the Grade 4 and 5 divisions for a total of 56 players.
Turk said one school had a missing player, meaning 55 took part but that was still a great turnout.
“Everything went great,” she said. “No problems and everyone looked they were having a lot of fun.”
For Sevigny, he’s just happy his players got the chance to try something new.
“It’s good for the kids to learn a new sport and enjoy it,” he said.