THUNDER BAY — From the opening junior match on Friday evening to the championship contest in the men’s ‘A’ division on Sunday afternoon, back-and-forth games were commonplace during the 2023 Northwestern Ontario Squash Open at the Canada Games Complex.
Joe Petch, who is the president of the Thunder Bay Squash Association and the tournament chair, was thrilled to see that level of competitiveness across all divisions during the three-day event.
“When we make the draws, we try to have it pretty balanced in terms of the groups,” Petch said.
“Everyone wants to have good matches, whether that’s when you are playing or when you are watching in the stands with everyone else. It all worked out perfectly this week.”
Sean Cameron was the winner of the men’s ‘A’ event as he defeated Anniss Seid, who grew up in Fort Frances and now lives in Thunder Bay, in an exciting four-set affair.
“We’ve played each other in the finals on multiple occasions and it always ends up being a back-and-forth game between us,” said Cameron, who is originally from Toronto but has called Thunder Bay home for the last 10 years.
“The squash community here is a very close-knit group. You don’t get this in a lot of parts of Ontario. The players from Fort Frances come up here to support us and we also got players from Minnesota making their way here.”
Andrew Hanson (men’s ‘B’ division), Ian Jodoin (men’s ‘C’ division), Sarah Noonan (women’s division), Luka Tropea (junior ‘A’ division) and Graeme Drombolis (junior ‘B’ division) also won tournament titles on Sunday.
While the final totals are still being tabulated, all of the money that was raised this weekend will go toward the Thunder Bay Squash Association’s junior program.
“That’s something we want to see be a staple here for our squash program and to keep developing for years to come,” Cameron said. “We’ve had lots of juniors come through and gone on to play at university, and now they are coming back to town and playing here.
“We want to get more kids coming out and playing. The kids that are here already love the game and we love giving our time to help them develop.”
The next major event for local players will be in Fort Frances for the Sunset Country Squash Tournament from Jan. 12-14.
That will be followed by the 2024 Ontario Winter Games tournament, which runs from Feb. 23-26 at the Canada Winter Games Complex.
“We had some pretty good crowd here this weekend and I think that will get the competitive fire going for those junior players that will be competing in the Winter Games, and those of us that will be watching the action in February,” Petch said.