Sunday, 20 April 2014

Day 4: April 20th, 2014: Easter

9:00am, Matthew Henderson vs Husam Hamour: 3-2
We are in the BU 17 consolation Semi-Final at 9:00am, Matthew has been fighting a cold since we arrived in Toronto.  Now playing the first match of the day, we have a battle on our hands.  Husam is a 5/8 seed in the tournament and carries a much higher national ranking.  In the first game Husam opens up an early lead, with Matt clipping the top of the tin.  As junior squash goes Husam answered back with enough tin of his own to even the game at 10 all.  Did I say tin?  Husam wins the first game off one of Matt’s tin, 13-11.  The second game was much of the same, but a weakness in Husam’s game was identified.  His forehand technique does not allow him to be consistent, as he comes through the ball with a flat racquet.  Matt was unable to execute an effective attack on the forehand and lost the 2nd game 12-10.  The 3rd to 5th game we had the plan in place and only needed to execute.  Matt executed, and won, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5.  Some times you find the fire to win and everything goes your way.  In the 5th, Matt shots were on and there was nothing that Husam could do. Next Match 12:20pm with Michael Mehl, same person he played in the Quarterfinals to days ago

11:00am Grace Thomas vs Hanna Blatt: 3-0, 3rd/4th place
Grace has a 1 and 1 record with Hanna this year.  Grace beat Hanna in Victoria at the PNW in February but lost to her in the Alberta Jesters in November.  We had the intel that Hanna had injured her hamstring, and she wore a wrap visibly on her right leg, which deduce which side of the court to attack.  The first game was a back and forth battle up till 8 all when Hanna went on walk about hitting 3 tins in a row.  In the second Hanna gained the lead 9-6 and in a similar fashion hit 3 tins in a row to even the game and the eventual win for Grace.  The third was a no contest game and a final placing of 3rd in the Girls Under 17

12:20pm Matthew Henderson vs Michael Mehl, 5th/6th place
After beating Mehl in the quarterfinals these two players meet again in the finals of the consolation.  Each played a match in the morning and each are tired from the weekends battles.  How to define the match, according to Nicolas…Lets and Strokes!  During the first game there were a collection of calls that were unpredictable by the players and coaches.  We were a perplexed by the logic of some of the calls.  At one point in the first game Michael said to the referee we should play a let, and both players over ruled the referee.  Matt Henderson intentionally served the ball out after a No let call against Michael.  After all the craziness Matt won the first game 11-6, lost the second 11-13, then in tight games edged out Michael 11-8, 11-9 to win the Boys Under 17 consolation placing 5th at the 2014 Canadian Junior Championships.

What a weekend.  What a time.  We will remember, Frankie’s, Nicolas tapping out after a 10 min submission match with Henderson, Matt not making his flight home, Tim Horton’s on Good Friday, and 5 players packed into one room.  Good times.  Glad to be home.
Just about arrived at the Hotel April 16th

Ben driving to the hotel April 16th

Practice before the tournament, April 16th

Practice before the tournament, April 16th

Nathan vs Neel, April 19th

Injury time out, April 19th

Bronze Medal, April 20th

Grace, Ben, Matthew, April 20th

BC crew after the awards ceremony, April 20th

Patty and Nathan, April 20th

Gavin's good side, April 20th

Walking to the Airport Check-in, April 20th

Retail Therapy, April 20th

Working on the Blog, April 20th

Janel and Nathan, April 20th

Janel and Paula, April 20th



Saturday, 19 April 2014

Day 3: April 19th, 2014

Last out of the club and return for the first match if the day!   What could be better than that?

9:00 am Nathan Von Hagen vs Neel Ismail 0-3
Neel is a very accomplished player for a 13 year old player.  He has a strong wrist, smooth movement on court and a professional demeanour on court.  The rallies were competitive but Nathan was not strong enough today to neutralize Neels efficiency.  Nathan is now out of the tournament.

9:35 am Kellan O'Neill vs Liam Waterous 2-3
Liam Waterous and Kellan O'Neill played a hard fought match early in the morning.  This was a battle between Liam's thunderous backhand and Kellan's sliding retrieval.  The game plan was to take the sting out of Liam's shots by engaging him in long rallies (Always a good plan when you are fit).  The plan was working except for the odd unforced error from Kellan.  Otherwise good strong play form Kellan but not the result he wanted to have.  Kellan is not out of the tournament.

Next Up:
3:05pm Matthew Henderson vs Adam Vanwyngaarden  3-0
Another day and another match to go.  This time Matt is feeling better as his nose cold  has cleared up allowing him to breath better.  Adam beat Nicolas the day before but Matt was not going fall to the same fate.  This straight forward match require Matt to take the ball in short after punish his opponent to the back of the court.  Adam was unable to keep up with the pressure.  Tomorrow morning Matt plays Hussam Hamour in the consolation Semi-Final.  

5:30pm Grace Thomas vs Tara Shannon 0-3
Grace was on the bike, loosening up her legs, swinging her racquet before stepping onto the court for the Girls U 17 Semi-Final.  During the warm-up Tara pounded the ball crisply cutting it into the corner of the court.  During the first game Tara come out early but Grace fought back and evened up the game around 4 all.  Thing went back and forth for the next 3 points to 7 All.  After which Tara sprinted to the end of the game 11-7.  In the 2 second game Grace found the back of the court on Tara’s Forehand side.  She ripped the ball into the corner and grabbed herself an 8-4 lead.  But to no avail as Tara fought back and levelling the game at 8 all, then finishing the game 11-8.  In the third both players shared point but Tara maintained a 2 point lead.  Tara worked up to 10-7 match ball.  Grace needed to fight 3 match balls to have a chance to take the game to a 4th.  she was able to fight the first 2 match balls but Tara found a winning ball low and fast out of grace’s reach on the back hand side.  Match 3-0 for Tara.  Tomorrow Grace will play Hanna Blatt for the 3/4 position.

After the matches it was time to eat!  Have you heard of Frankie’s?  Italian all you can eat buffet.  Wednesday after practice, a couple of the kids ventured across the street to have lunch at Frankie’s.  When they came back they were crazed with excitement.  Raving about the Italian buffet.  By Friday everyone at the tournament would look at each other, smile and we knew there would be a time to meet at Frankie’s. Where food is plentiful and everyone is smiles.  

So what is so special about Frankie’s?  I keep describing it as a place where buffet meets 5 star italian resort!  As you walk down a narrow twisting italian designed street there are food stations to your left and right.  People wander with plate in hand trying to decide what to eat next!  There first station is the cold salads, directly opposite the garlic bread station (by far the best garlic bread), then pizza, dessert, gelato, chicken and beef, Pastas, and on down an italian street everyone filling their plate till it over flows.  

When you walk out you of Frankie’s you have gone some where special and feel satisfied.

Thank you
Benjamin Uliana

Friday, 18 April 2014

Day 2 - April 18th, 2014

Its is 11:30pm and I am just sitting down to write todays post.  Yes we were the last match of the day, yes we had to go out on good Friday and find the only open restaurant, Tim Horton's.  Although we are back in the hotel room and lining up for the showers.  John Dempsey has brought over a basket of Easter Candy and all is good...Back to the Blog and our matches...

10:45am Nathan Von Hagen vs Quinton Anderson 3-0
4:50pm Nathan Von Hagen vs Michael Greenwood 3-0
Nathan started the day in the consolation draws.  Fortunately for Nathan he would have a couple easy matches.  Both matches provided Nathan an opportunity to build his confidence in his game and get ready for a tougher haul on Day 3.

1:30pm Grace Thomas vs Charlotte Choppas 3-1
48 hours after arriving in Toronto, Grace finally stepped on court for her 2nd match.  This time it was Charlotte Copas.  In the first Grace was a bit tentative but forced more errors out of her opponent than she made.  The Second game Grace flicked the ball around the court and found herself losing 11-2 before she knew what had happened.  In the usual Grace fashion she came back and dominated the last 2 games using basic length and strength.  The shot of the match was a rolling nick on game ball in the third.  Tomorrow Grace will play in the Semi-Finals.  Keep an eye on our Twitter or Facebook page for an announcement of the live stream. 

2:15pm Kellan O'Neill vs Julien Gosset 0-3
Day 2 and 2nd match for Kellan, this time against the second seed, Julien Gosset.  The match was a 0-3 loss for Kellan but each of the games were tight and Kellan played some of the best squash I've seen from him in a while.  On the flip side I was not impressed with Julien's aloof attitude on court but was impressed with Kellan demeanour in the face of defeat. Tomorrow will be a big day for Kellan.  3 match and 3 wins will put him in the top 8.

2:50pm Nicolas Vincent vs Mateo Bultrago 3-1
6:00pm Nicolas Vincent vs Adam Vanwyngaarden 0-3
Nicolas had two matches today.  One hot and the other cold.  Vincent punished his opponent and ran him around the court till he submitted easily in the 4th.  Stepping on court for his second match Nicolas had a string of errors and could not pull it back together.  Front wall nicks resulting in strokes, and Adam's volley kept Nick from building any momentum in the match
2:15pm Matthew Henderson vs Michael Mehl (3/4) 3-1
8:40pm Matthew Henderson vs Brett Schille 1-3
Stars today go to Matthew Henderson.   Heading into his first match of the day (a nice reasonable 2:15pm) Matt met up with the 3/4 seed in the tournament.  Unfortunately the first game slipped away 11-6 with Matt trying to match Mehl's crazy angles.  In the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Matt confined Mehl with penetrating length, and yes a winning reverse boast on game ball.  By no means were the games blowouts but Mehl was visibly upset, receiving 2 conduct strokes for unsportsmanlike behaviour.  The last 4 games were won by Matt with 2 point gaps each time (11-9, 14-12, 13-11)

For the last match of the day, we had Matt Henderson and Brett Schille.  Starting at 9:20pm and running till 10:10pm this 4 game match had drama and tension.  The first 2 games, Matt held the first two games, neck and neck, but was too involved with the referees calls.  He was playing well he just couldn't finish.  In the 3rd game Matt started to keep the ball on the front wall, retrieved like a dog and got game ball 10-7 over Schille.  Schille evened it up 10-10 and the crowd was getting tense, but Matt wanted it more and at 12-12 put in the craziest shooting rally ever, eventually claiming the game 14-12.  In the 4th thing were so intense that when the referee played a let on one of Matt's retrieves that the audience groaned, Nicolas couldn't handle it and jumped up and screamed in shock!  In extra points the rallies were intense but Matt was not able not find the right bounces and Schille moved into the Semi-Finals.  Tomorrow Matt will have 1 match to get into the top 8.

Trevor Borland (left) and Yvon Provencial (right) hard at work
Nathan getting ready to serve

Here comes the Thunder!

Getting Ready to watch Matthew

Matthew, Nicolas, and Gavin
Day 3!  Here we come.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Day 1, April 17th, 2014

The only viewing for courts 8 through 14
Day 1:

Nicolas Vincent started the morning playing Kristian Lethbridge-Hall and won in 20min.  The true excitement starts at 4:25pm when we have 3 matches all playing at the same time.

4:25pm Nathan VonHagen vs Elliot Hunt 0-3:
We can safely say this was not Nathan's best squash match.  When I asked him how he felt about the match Nathan's response was "Bad".  At this point Nathan fell to the consolation draws and will have to win the net 5 matches to finish in the top 8.  This is what we call slogging it through the draw

4:25pm Nicolas Vincent vs Ethan Shoihet 0-3:
Some days you run into a player that is just a bit fast and quicker and more consistent than you are.  Ethan Shoihet explained to Nicolas why he is a 5/8 seed in the Boys Under 17 draw.  Nicolas will be joining Nathan in the consolation draw and will have a bunch of matches through the next couple days.

4:25pm Matthew Henderson vs Cameron Butler 3-2:
To start at the end of the story and work to the beginning, Matt has a cold.  We just finished going to shoppers drug mart to stock up on nasal decongestant.  But as things go Matt did the job he cam to do and won his first match.  He did take the full 5 games to do the job.  I like to think that he was just getting used to the courts.
Matt and his medication supply

5:00pm Kellan O'Neill vs Will Harris 3-0:
Kellan had a very positive match with a kid that could have been trouble.  keeping his cool on court and interjecting changes of pace into the game, Kellan walked away with a clean 3-0 first round win.

Entrance to the courts, coaches viewing for the weekend
7:20pm Grace Thomas vs Chloe Wren 3-0:
After the first 4 points of the game I was surprise to see how much Chloe had improved since I saw her play last year.  The rest of the match was more of what we expected of Grace as she dominated the match with Chloe just getting more frustrated as the match went on.
Mustafa, Grace, Nicoals, Janel, supporting Gavin Maxwell from the only other viewing position of the courts

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Settling in after a long day!

Wow, it truly was a long day of travel, just to get to the hotel.  After everyone arrived safely at the airport and waited till 4:00pm to pick up the rental vehicle we are told that they do not have the mini van we rented!  Wonderfully we were able to pack up into some new Chevy 6 passenger vehicle that barely has room for our gear.  Packed in and pilled up to the windows we made our way into the thick urban jungle of Canada'd Golden Horseshoe.

The drive from the airport lead us into the early rush of traffic on the 401.  We almost got parked on the 401 but were able to keep moving at a crawl.  The fact that we were on the widest stretch of highway in North America was lost on the kids in the vehicle, some sleeping, others zoning out and looking for shopping malls.  One hours later we crawled into the hotel before heading back on the road to go hit the courts and get a feel for the facility.   The facility is nice, but the courts are old school cinder block with panelling on the wall.  There are no glass backs to the courts but you can look down on the courts from above the back wall.  Coaching is gong to be a challenge and will require quite the amount to running from top to bottom between matches.  Its all part of the event.  The kids had a good 90 minutes on court and have stretched their legs enough to work out the kinks of travel.

Getting back to the room you can see that we have a sea of cots in the living room.  Interestingly there are 2 tv's in the room but neither has been turned on...everyone is opting for the small screen over the big screen.  

10:25am first match of the tournament.  Let go Nicolas!


On our way

After waking up at 4:00 am to catch a 5:30am flight. We are getting ready to board our plane to Toronto from Vancouver. Everyone is checking their clash of clans before we go back to sleep on the plane.  

Current temperature in Toronto: -5 deg C

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Here we go!

We are all set to head to Toronto, Ontario April 16th, 2014 for the Canadian Junior Championships.  This year the event will be hosted by MayFair Parkway Racquets club in Markham, Ontario. Its been years since I've been to the club and I'm excited to see how things have changed.

Going into the 2014 Canadian Junior Championships we have some good prospects this weekend.  Grace Thomas is going into the girls Under 17 this year as the #2 seed in the event.  Its a high bar set but she has worked hard to get there.  The real challenge for the event will be in the Semi-Finals when she would meet with Tara Shannon.  This is the match that will define her weekend.  

In the boys U17 we have 2 athletes, Matthew Henderson and Nicolas Vincent.  Neither player is seeded in the event but Matt is looking at a match up with the 3/4 seed Michael Mehl in the 2nd round and feels that this is a fair match to break through into the Quarter-Finals.  Nicolas Vincent starts off the U17 with Kristian Lethbridge-Hall of Nova Scotia and then meets 9/12 seed Ethan Shoihet in the round of 32.  Nicolas has climbed the rankings since January this year and my intel indicates that Ethan has not been playing well, Nicolas stands a good chance at an early tournament upset.

In the Boys Under 15 we have both, Kellan O'Neill and Nathan Von Hagen.  Kellan will have a solid first match in the tournament.  Winning the first match will bring him up against the 2nd seed in the BU 13, Julien Gosset.  Nathan Von Hagen will start off his tournament with another solid match (if he keeps his feet moving he should get a win).  His second match would then be 5/8 seed James Flynn, who is a strong player from Toronto.

In the U19 draws Gavin Maxwell is moving into his second last nationals event while Janel Gaube is in her last event.  To start with the Girls U19, there are 11 players and Janel drew the #1 seed Alyssa Mehta (more to come this weekend).  Gavin Maxwell is a 5/8 seed in the boys U19.  By the time we get to the U19 seeding is only a picture of the past.  Every time you step on the court you need to be ready to play, because all your opponents are all capable of winning.  As the 5/8 seed Gavin is set up for a Quarter-Final match with Jarryd Osborne, who placed 2nd at the PNW U19 boys this year.

Tomorrow is travel day.  I will be on the 5:30am out of Victoria, and in Toronto by 11:30am PST.  We should be able to get in to the Hotel and relax before hitting the squash court for a 6:15pm EST practice time.

2014 Tournament Draws

Keep an eye on this blog as we will be updating with the excitement of the event and pictures of the action and fun.