Last weekend, 60 juniors, 10 coaches and 30 parents boarded the US Open bus to New Haven, Connecticut, in one of the most ambitious trips in SO history. With the launch of our newly revamped high performance program, our goal was to give our top juniors exposure to critical international competition and gauge our level for an assault on the podium in the coming years.
The US Junior Open is the largest squash tournament in the world with over 900 juniors from 40 countries and Squash Ontario had the largest single group in attendance! With thanks to title sponsors Equity Home Builders, The Jesters of Ontario, Sprott Resources and Slaight Music, as well as dozens of other generous donors and corporate partners, SO was able to substantially subsidize the trip allowing more athletes to attend and also to send a world class team of coaches to support the juniors. The group of Marci Sier, Rob Brooks, Graeme Williams, Jessica Dimauro, Lauren Sachvie, Jamie Nicholls, Brent Adamson of Urban Squash Toronto, Matt Serediak, Derek Baldwin and Jonathon Hill worked around the clock across 4 different venues and worked with our athletes to take on the world – a huge thanks to these coaches for their passion and dedication to developing squash in Ontario.
Squash Ontario’s goal was to have 3 Top 10 finishes in 2017 which increases to 5 Top 10 results in 2018. Led by rising star and the immensely talented Iman Shaheen of Ottawa who was the talk of the tournament, upsetting several of the top players in the world en route to a 3rd place finish in the Girls U13, SO came up just short of their goal. Iman’s performance was certainly inspiring as she proved that Ontarians can be the best in the world and led a large group of U13 players that all gained valuable experience. Also in the Top 10 was the Houdini like James Flynn who was a force in the Boys U19, racking up several upsets in a field littered with 128 of the top world junior and University players. He led an overachieving group of U19 juniors including Liam Marrison who made the round of 16 in upset fashion, Elliot Hunt who never backed down all weekend to a Top 20 finish and George Crowne who closed with a 5-2 record – all 4 of these athletes just turned 17 this fall and as a unit are one of the top teams in the world for their age. SO had three 11th place finishes in the event, almost reaching our goal led by Charlotte Orcutt in the GU17 who headlined a very deep and talented group of Ontarian’s in this category – 6 athletes in this division finished with winning records, including Marlow Benson’s 18th place result. In the Girls U15, Molly Chadwick finished 11th place joining fan favourite 11th place Kiera Hickox in the Girls U11 who led an exciting group including Maya Askari, Georgie Baldwin and Rachel Dirks who along with our Boys U11 crew gained invaluable experience in their first ever US Opens. Amin Khan of Windsor rounded out Ontario’s Top 16 performances in the Boys U15 and Jacob Marrison and Daniel Deverill finished strong in the Boys 13 winning 6 matches each to get to the finals of the consolation round with Daniel edging out Jacob.
Squash Ontario wants to recognize once again that we truly have one of the most cohesive and supportive squash communities in the world. This type of team effort is rarely seen in individual sports and all weekend long parents and athletes cheered each other on wearing their team uniforms, supported the group logistically and most of all enjoyed spending time with each other. US Open 2017 was truly a transformative event for Squash Ontario’s juniors and we look forward to building on this momentum for more great things in 2018.