Men's squash wins
20th straight OUA championship
By Jordan Bell and Ryan Hickman
THE CHAMPIONS. Queen was out in full force on Saturday. In back row
from left is Western coach Jack Fairs, Vinay Lodha, Julian Chin, Alex
Carter, Dax Letham and Josh Schwartz. On bottom from left is Andrew
Jones and Robert Nigro.
Was there ever any
The Western Mustangs men's squash team soundly defeated the McGill University
Redmen 6-0 to win the Harold Martin Trophy, symbolizing Ontario University
Athletics squash supremacy, this past weekend at the Town and Country
Racquet and Fitness Club in Hyde Park.
The victory increases the squad's amazing winning streak to 20 straight
"You have to be very fortunate and lucky," said Western head
coach Jack Fairs concerning the illustrious streak. "There's a lot
of uncertainty in sport. But we try not to think of it in terms of wins
and championships, because you can get in trouble if you think about it
Fairs explained the contingencies involved with putting together such
a successful squad.
"It's critical to have depth in squash. Our team is extremely strong
at the bottom. You also need to be committed to the program."
"They're just too strong," explained Owen Watson of McGill University's
second place squad, regarding Western's dominance. "Our goal today
was to go for second and hope to get a game off [Western]. Their number
6 player could play number one for us."
Fairs empathizes with the unfortunate circumstance of being the Robin
to Western's Batman. "If I was an opposing coach I would get tired
of us winning as well."
Robert Nigro, Andrew Jones and Dax Letham were awarded spots on the OUA
first team all-star, while Vinay Lodha and Will Mariani were named to
the second team. Furthermore, Fairs was the recipient of the OUA Coach
of the Year.
The Gazette was on hand to catch all the OUA squash action. Not every
match was gripping, but there were definitely some gems.
Andrew Jones (Western) vs. Nanu Devala (McGill)
Devala won the first point of the match, but after that, it was all Jones.
The third-year Western kinesiology student drove the graduate student
from Pakistan to sheer madness, at one point forcing him to shout, "It's
just not working!"
In the first game, Jones regained his composure after losing the first
point and went on to reel off five consecutive points to take a 5-1 lead
before eventually winning the first set 9-4.
Jones fell behind 4-1 in the second game, but regrouped once again, taking
the game 9-4.
The third game was more heated and tight, but the Jones victory was a
forgone conclusion. He took the third game 9-5.
Devala was visibly frustrated in the third game, but Jones said he knew
he had him earlier on in the match.
"I knew I had him in the first game," Jones said. "I felt
I was controlling the rallies. In squash you can pick up the flow of the
match through the first two games."
Robert Nigro (Western) vs. Mark Smith (McGill)
Both teams' number 1 players squared off in the second round of matches
played. Nigro took home the OUA individual championship the previous week
and was clearly the player dominating this match on Saturday.
McGill's Smith knew he didn't stand much chance and realized it fully
after an abrupt 9-1 opening game. Nigro had the slim red head running
around the court and finished him off after three straight games (9-1,
"It's not like we don't try," Nigro said after the match, knowing
beforehand his win was imminent. "I just take it down a bit to make
it a match."
Nigro added that he enjoyed the competition because it's not as intense
as when he played junior nationals and in other international tournaments.
Dax Letham (Western) vs. Maxime Descoteaux (McGill)
Letham, Western's third-seeded player and a rugby player by trade, was
Western's bull finishing off the tall Frenchman, Descoteaux from McGill
in a blink, 3-0 (9-2, 9-1, 9-1).
Vinay Lodha (Western) vs. Owen Watson (McGill)
The number 4 ranked players on each team duelled in a tight match, even
though it only lasted three games. Lodha took the first game 9-5, but
then it started to heat up in the second with a lot of physical play and
"lets" that got Watson visibly upset.
Lodha and Watson have known each other from sectionals this year where
Lodha whacked Watson across the neck with his racquet. The frustration
between the two was evident, but Lodha took the second 9-7 and easily
in the third 9-1.
Julian Chin (Western) vs. Shrif Shaker (McGill)
The match-up of fifth seeds between Chen and Shaker was by far the closest
match of the afternoon, especially after Shaker took the second game 10-8
after some unforced errors by Chen. Any thoughts of upset didn't last
very long when Chen sealed the match 3-1 (9-3, 8-10, 9-4, 9-4).