The final installment of 2018’s Black Knight Player of the Month award recognizes 4 superb athletes and their performances to finish the year. Congratulations to Sam Cornett, Jamie Nicholls, Erica McGillicuddy and Darosham Khan for leading the pack of dozens of impressive Ontario players.
Samantha Cornett, who is already one of Canada’s highest ever world ranked squash players, adds another undisputed BK Player of the Month to her already crowded trophy case. Cornett pulled off a rare double gold this period on the domestic circuit by capturing both the Downtown Automotive Group Ontario Closed Singles Championships AND the Geotab Ontario Doubles Championship within two weeks of one another. At Sam’s day job as a Top 25 player on the PSA World Tour, she captured back to back titles beginning in her hometown Ottawa at the Jack Cornett Women’s Open 10k and then again at the Simon Warder Memorial 10K in Sarnia. All told, Cornett racked up 4 consecutive trophies on 4 consecutive weekends to close out a very successful 2018. She edges out her doubles partner, the ageless Seanna Keating for honours who was a finalist in the Ontario Closed Singles while capturing her 4th Ontario Open Doubles title at Cedar Springs in Burlington. Honorable mention goes to Queens University #1 Sydney Maxwell who went undefeated in 5 matches at the Jesters University League Crossover #1 in Kingston.
The men’s Black Knight Player of the Month award was less clear as no athletes stood head and shoulders above the crowd in November and December. In fact, the decision was so difficult that Ontario Squash Hall of Famer Rob Brooks was brought into the office to help find this diamond in the rough. Despite modest protest, the recipient for this period is Squash Ontario Executive Director Jamie Nicholls, who unlike Cornett, will most certainly count this honour as one of the highlights of his career. Nicholls began the period by winning his 3rd Men’s over 30 plus Masters Championships in dramatic 5-game fashion over the heavily favored Francisco Mendez despite giving up 8 years and 50 pounds to his fleet of foot opponent. Proving he is not just a one-trick pony, in November, Jamie teamed up with former champion Jeff Lurie to don Cinderella’s slipper on their swollen feet in making the finals of the Geotab Men’s Open Doubles Championships at Cedar Springs. In doing so, Lurie, who was playing at his off-season weight, and Nicholls upset #1 seeds and top SDA world ranked pros Rob Nigro andTyler Hamilton in the upset of tournament. Runner-up’s up for the award were Josh Hollings of U of T who went 7-0 over November and December at the #1 position for the Varsity Blues in the Jesters University League and Alex Ford of London who won both the Downtown Automotive Group Ontario Closed and Reggae Cup A divisions. Honorable mentions to go 4 time Ontario Doubles Champion Will Mariani and first-timer Arjun Gupta as well as Graeme Schnell for winning his maiden Ontario Closed championship.
On the girls side, no star shone brighter then the Granite’s Erica McGillicuddy during November and December. McGillicuddy, who receives her second BK Player of the Month Junior Female nod, had an incredible run to finish 2018, scoring three silver medals in a row with each more impressive then the last. Erica started the period off by making the finals of the U19 BMO Nesbitt Burns Ontario Junior Closed championships as a ¾ seed and followed the feat up in the U17 draw at the Canadian Junior Open, also as a ¾ seed. In both events she scored major upset wins over higher seeded players. McGillicuddy then took that momentum to Andover, Mass. and led 60 Ontario junior teammates with an incredible silver medal at the US Junior Open, the largest junior tournament in the world, as a 9/12 seed. Runner up for this award were fellow Granite Club member Molly Chadwick who won the U19 Girls Ontario Closed title as an unseeded 15 years old and honorable mentions go to U17 champion Salma Mounir of the ORC, U15 champion Ananya Maheshwari of Windsor and U13 champion Shirin Batra also of the ORC.
Black Knight Player of the Month on the boys side was a classic battle between youth and experience with the ORC’s Darosham Khan edging out Richmond Hill’s Kent Rawlins for the award. Khan solidified himself as one of the top U19 junior players in the world with a strong finish to 2018 highlighted by winning the prestigious Scottish Junior Open in December. In addition, Daro made the final of Boys U19 BMO Nesbitt Burns Ontario Junior Closed as a ¾ seed and followed it up two weeks later with a semi final appearance in the hotly contested U19 Canadian Junior Open division. Rawlins served notice that the future is bright in Ontario as the leader of our strongest group of U11’s in decades by winning his first of what will be many provincial titles at the BMO Nesbitt Burns Closed at Executive Squash and Fitness and then following that up with a Top 16 performance at the US Junior Open, all as a 9 year old! Honorable mentions are plentiful in this category and include University of Pennsylvania’s James Flynn (BU19 Provincial Champ, Top 16 USJO U19), Dylan Deverill (U17 Provincial Champ), Alex Yuzpe (BU15 Provincial Champ, 3rd place CJO), Wasey Maqsood (U13 and first provincial championship), Jacob Marrison (4th place CJO and Top 16 USJO), and Harvard’s George Crowne (7thplace, USJO U19).
Congratulations to all of Squash Ontario’s incredible athletes for their continued pursuit of excellence. See you for more amazing results in 2019!