Seventy seven hours of doubles pandemonium is now officially in the books as Championship Sunday lived up to the hype, providing fans with seven new provincial championship teams, many in dramatic style including five game thrillers in both the men’s and women’s open finals.
In classic B&R fashion, the city’s most raucous gallery was packed to the gills with over 100 spectators live and others tuning in from across the country to the online stream. From the first blue hipster bag received at noon on Thursday, players scattered throughout the city for a weekend of fierce, but friendly, competition across 5 clubs, totaling 103 matches put in the books. Certainly the largest Ontario Doubles championships on record, many were left murmuring into their 2nd or 3rd Caesar’s during the epic Men’s Open final whether maybe this was also the “best ever” Ontario Dubs champs.
Before the official recaps, a few final thanks to some special people that had an important roles in making this an extraordinary weekend.
The Thank Yous…
*Alex Carter at Assante Wealth Management for his title sponsorship and continued support of doubles squash in Canada. His sponsorship helped provide above and beyond tournament value for all participants and in particular, put forward the prize money to attract the very best open players in the country to the event. Despite a mediocre playing performance, Alex still finds a way to be the tournament MVP.
*The B&R and our hosting partners, Toronto Cricket Club, Toronto Lawn and Tennis Club, RCYC and the Toronto Racquet Club. The Ontario doubles community is truly a family and we could not have pulled this large of an event off without help from our brothers and sisters across the city. Special shout-outs to the Cricket team of Deb O’Neill, John Gartenburg and Gary Dorbyk for their yeomen’s work as well as Mark Porter at the TLTC who did double duty running a junior silver tournament on top of two-days’ worth of doubles matches. The B&R crew including Marci Sier, Bruce Tubbe and the F&B department were the backbones of the event and even though our facility is small, it can certainly prove mighty when duty calls.
*Gary Slaight and Peter McCarthy for sponsoring Championship Sunday. All players and spectators left the B&R today with their fill of incredible squash action, bacon and eggs and spicy caesars. Gary and Pete are huge supporters of squash and stepped up once again to put on a first class show for finals day.
*Tournament Referee Tony Swift assembled and managed an all-star crew of certified referees all weekend. Special mentions to 10-time world champion Gary Waite for stepping in to handle the Sunday 8:30am men’s C consolation semi-final, Mark Warren for his volume and difficulty of matches, Tim Mallory for taking on the men’s open finals and 17-time Canadian Champion Jessica Dimauro for handling all of the women’s open key matches. Also thanks to Richard Hazell and Gary O’Neill for answering the call of duty at the Cricket Club - even Taylor Fawcett got behind the clipboard this weekend which is a testament to Tony Swift, who is the best in the business and besides refereeing dozens of matches over the weekend, continues to oversee our rapidly improving officiating program.
*Lolly Gillen and Pat Richardson who continue to work behind the seeds recruiting, promoting, organizing, and volutelling players to come out and support doubles squash. Their efforts are always unsung but always appreciated.
*Josh Ginou and the Squashsteam.tv team for jumping into action late Saturday evening when it became clear that Championship Sunday would be must-see streaming TV and put together a typically high quality production.
Renka Gesing and Linda Parsons of Mayfair Parkway took home a competitive round robin featuring players from all different clubs and many close matches, including several 5 gamers. 2nd place was tournament rookies and our youngest C team, Natalie Morrison and Audra Mudford, with Montrealer’s Christianne Brunnelle and Nancy Legouffee bringing home the bronze.
The largest and most interesting draw of the weekend – as I said throughout the event, Men’s C is the division where truly ANYTHING can happen at any time. Twenty four teams enter, only 1 team leaves. Three father and son duo’s, a typically strong and deep Cricket Club contingent, and more jokes and laughs than all other divisions combined. Consolation finals on Sunday afternoon sees the B&R’s Jake Leishman and Eric Windeler avenge a first round loss to Carlo Mariglia and Phil Isabella. They first met Thursday evening - 3 days and 9 matches later, they meet AGAIN, this time with trash talkers from Yonge and St. Clair coming home victorious. The C final follows the Men’s Open climax - big shoes to fill. Both teams were surprise contestants as Ian MacDonald and Ed Kernaghan from the TLTC upset #1 seeds, and perennial bridesmaids, Luke McGoey and Steve Parks in one semifinal. The Cricket duo of Sandy Mackay and Jamie Herman took down fellow Cricketers Johan Ogren and Ed Roseblatt in the other semi, who had yet to lose a game and only a smattering of points until then in the other semi. Mackay and Herman, spurred on by coach Doug and co. end the Cinderella run of Ed and Ian 3-1 in a well contested and well attended final.
Another deep and highly competitive division with 4 solid teams, each having a chance to take home the hardware on paper. The home club favorites Cathy Southey and Cathy Tuckwell set the tone early in the tournament with a 3-0 win Thursday over the young and hungry Cricket outfit of Jen Klein and Carly Hong. They would follow that up with a nail biting 3-2 win over eventual finalists Carmela Kervin and Laurie Krol before rounding out an undefeated weekend vs. bronze medalists Lolly Gillen and Lindsey Hermer-Bell. Every match played in this event was hard fought and highly entertaining – congrats to the B&R’s “Cathy’s” on a great weekend.
Another intriguing division with many newly formed teams facing off against long standing units. In the consolation final, the veteran team of John Kervin and Mike Tanner, perhaps feeling the effects of a 3 match gauntlet on Saturday came up just short vs. the #2 seeds, and hard hitting, Eric Dunn and Danny McLellan. The final featured two young and athletic teams in Rob Cooley and Mike Boynton from the Cricket Club and Gord Urquhart and Dan Clarke from the B&R. Rob Cooley’s OSDL division 1 experience, arming him with the trifecta of pace, retrieving and shot-making combined with Mike Boynton’s improved play and stalwart steadiness and proved too much for what is surely a future championship team in Clarke and Urquhart.
The seeding committee spent several sleepless nights trying to rate the teams in this talent-packed draw, with no fewer than 5 outfits receiving #1 seed consideration. All of the deliberation became moot on opening night as unseeded Jeff Klotz and Richard Mills claimed the first seeded scalp of the weekend taking out the potential champions Robert Hong and Matt Bannan in the first round. However, order was restored in the semi-finals as veterans and #2 seed Pete McCarthy and Paul Zander advanced on the bottom half and the #1 KW duo of Jeff Deverill and Blake Reinson defeated Nathan Drew and Josh Ginou in the top. The final was much anticipated and a virtual toss-up on paper; however Reinson’s heat and Deverill’s guile both came to play on championship Sunday and they surprised the crowd, their opponents and themselves with a 3-0 victory to bring the title to a proud Western Region.
SDA stars Seanna Keating and Marci Sier heeded the pleas of the tournament organizers, Eric and Jamie, and split their dream team up for the greater good of squash in our province. All to provide a dramatic storyline for this event. Seanna Keating, the former world champion teamed with multiple Canadian Mixed and Vets champion Caro Sambrook, while Sier took longtime friend and badminton star Kelly Kuru under her wing. Surprises semifinalists Heather MacLean and Paula Jenkins and Squash Ontario’s own Lauren Sachvie and Rebecca Hazell put up great fights on semi-Saturday, but the dream final of #1 and #2 seeds took center stage Sunday. This match was a classic as the experienced Keating and Sambrook went up 2-1, breaking down the neophyte Kuru while Sier tried desperately to get in on the action. However, as is often the case in professional doubles, momentum is everything and Marci began to take over the match, building confidence in both herself and her ever improving partner. They win the 4th 15-9 and the 5th 15-8 to hand Marci her 3rd straight provincial title, while Kuru joins the party with her first Ontario title. Keating and Sambrook are two of the great sportswomen of our sport and were extremely graceful in defeat – overall a wonderful match in front of a capacity crowd.
Surely the strongest draw in this event’s recent memory, a total of 4, Top 30 World Tour players and 12 of the Top 25 players in Canada suited up to compete for the Assante Wealth sponsored prize money. The opening rounds saw some spirited play, highlighted by upstart Joel Goulding and Jonathon Madruga’s upset of home club favorites Eric Baldwin and Chris Deratnay. All 4 quarter finals were competitive with the top 4 seed’s cream rising to the top, setting up tantalizing semi’s pitting 6-time champions Scott Dulmage and Richard Thomson vs. 2-time defending Canadian champion Robin Clarke and his new partner Rob Nigro and SDA stars Fred Reid Jr. and Will Mariani taking on World #7 Scott Arnold and his charitable choice of partner Jamie Nicholls. In semi #1, team speed and Clarke’s ability to take over when needed proved too much for the legendary Dulmage and Thompson while semi-final #2 saw Mariani and Reid play a disciplined style to break down the outclassed Nicholls, throwing in timely winners while the completely isolated Scott Arnold could not see enough balls to make an impact. Both advanced in hard fought 60 minute 3-0 victories. The final, played before a capacity crowd proved to be a classic with many wondering whether Mariani and Reid could keep up their strong play the night before with slightly more pace and pressure coming back at them. They take the first game 15-10, before Clarke takes over in game 2 to level it at 1-1. The third game sees Mariani and Reid come out firing on all cylinders and Nigro looking like he might fall off the pace – 15-7 for team black and more of the same for game 4 with Robin and Rob staring at a 2-1 10-7 deficit. However…3 quick winners out of nowhere from Nigro and the momentum shifts as Robin blows the game winning shot by Fred to level the match to take it 15-12. With the crowd fully satisfied getting their money’s worth, the 5th game looked like it might be a classic with both teams trading points up until 8-8, including several winners by the underdog Nigro. However, an apparent leg injury to the potentially dominant Clarke slows the SDA star and Reid and Mariani capitalize, changing tactics all the while increasing their pace and concentration to have their best run of the match. They take the 5th game and the provincial championship to cap an impressive weekend of high level squash and are our 2016 Assante Wealth Ontario Doubles Men’s Open Champions.
Thanks to everyone for participating, volunteering, spectating and most importantly our sponsors. Squash is growing on our province and this event is a testament to our vibrant and ever growing doubles community – it was our largest every provincial championship and surely our highest level of competition. Good luck the rest of the season and we will see you next year for the Ontario Doubles Championships!
Eric Baldwin & Jamie Nicholls