Squash team takes home OUA hardware

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Mustangs men's squash

Courtesy of Mustang Athletics

Another year, another gold for the men’s squash team.

For the 25th year in a row, the top-seeded Western’s men’s team captured the prestigious provincial title with a 6-0 sweep over the McGill University in a final that lasted less than 50 minutes.

The semi-final, however, was a different story. Although seeded fourth, the Toronto Varsity Blues’ strong squad proved to be the biggest challenge for the ’Stangs.

Toronto took two matches off the Mustangs, but Western veteran Ryan Osbourne’s 3-2 win over Ahmed Raza put the Mustangs in position to take home the gold.

Second-year Mustang Strachan Jarvis, who topped Toronto’s Jeff Best with a 3-0 win, was feeling tense going into the tournament.

“When we were playing U of T, it was really nerve-racking watching the matches,” he said. “We were up 3-1 and needed just one single game to win the entire match.

“The last two matches were on court; one of which was tight, and the other was not going our way. I remember sitting there just praying we wouldn’t go down as the ones that lost the streak of titles.”

A major concern going into the championships was David Yik, Toronto’s strongest competitor and winner of the 2007 Canadian University individuals.

Yik won his match 3-0 against Western’s Chris Hanebury, but that didn’t stop the Mustangs from coming through with a great performance to defeat the Blues 4-2 overall via wins from Ian Crozier, Ryan Forster, Jarvis and Osbourne.

The 2007-08 season has been particularly remarkable for a few Mustangs. Ryan Forster, now in his last year with the team, has an undefeated record of 10-0.

“Doing our sprint sessions twice a week, and with a lot more matches being played, it definitely paid off for us, being able to beat [Toronto],” Forster said. “That has had a lot to do with our ranking of fifth in the NCAA.”

Jarvis, who according to Greg Hutner is the team’s “most enthusiastic player,” displayed a fantastic 10-1 performance this year.

Aside from the big win, much of the excitement is centred on the team’s award-winning coach, Jack Fairs.

“The amount of time and effort that he puts into [the team] really goes unnoticed,” Forster said. “Jack’s just a really caring guy; he puts so much effort not just into the squash aspect of the team, but helps you out with so many other things.”

Fairs has been at Western to receive every one of the team’s 25 OUA gold medals.

“It was a great relief in some ways to come out on the good side,” Fairs said upon winning the championship.

As for the U.S. Intercollegiate Team Championships at Harvard University this coming weekend, Fairs said that the OUA win has added confidence to the team.

“We’re going down to Harvard a lot happier than we would be if we lost the OUAs,” he said. “So winning the OUAs has put the team in a positive frame of mind.”

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