Squash legacy continues with 26th OUA gold

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Iain Crozier

Courtesy of Iain Crozier

SMACK THAT. Iain Crozier of the men’s squash team does his part in helping the team win its 26th consecutive OUA title.

Consistency, dominance and tradition are all defining words for the Western Mustangs squash team. They recently completed another spectacular year, dominating Ontario University Athletics to earn their 26th consecutive provincial title on Feb. 14.

The team entered the competition with an outstanding 34-2 record and managed to defeat Queen’s and McMaster successively with overall scores of 6-0. Most of the players on the team perceive the team’s outstanding tradition as positive pressure and a form of extra motivation.

“Yes, there’s some pressure playing for a team with such an outstanding OUA record,” sophomore Kimesh Chetty said.

“You don’t want to be on the team that loses the record we have going. It motivates me to play my best and I feel much more confident playing for such a great team.”

One of the major contributors to the team’s confidence is the rare opportunity to play in the United States and compete with teams in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Veteran head coach Jack Fairs commented on the opportunity to play in the NCAA.

“It’s a real anomaly that we get to play in the NCAA. Right now we are the only team that still competes. You have to make a real commitment on our part,” Fairs said.

“It’s a wonderful part of our program because a lot of people want to play for us so that they can go to that particular competition. There has been an outstanding commitment on the part of Western to go down and play.”

This year the Purple and Silver went down to the squash courts in Princeton and competed very well. Their hard work and determination secured a second tier title, good for ninth out of 60 American schools. This is only a slight drop off from last year, when Western was placed in the first tier and finished sixth overall. The ninth place finish allows Western to maintain its reputation as one of the premier squash programs in North America.

Squash team

Fairs deserves recognition for providing the foundation for this powerhouse program. He has coached the team to 36 OUA championships including the aforementioned 26 consecutive titles. The ageless wonder also coached the 1977 and 1980 squash teams, which won gold in the NCAA competition in the United States. The current roster had immense praise and gratitude for their mentor.

“I am really honoured to play for Jack. He has really been a huge team supporter and I am proud to be one of the many players he has coached. It is really something special,” Chetty said.

“All he does is help people. He’s just an amazing guy. No matter what you need help with, it’s not just squash,” rookie Ryan Herden added.

“I have been sick for the last couple weeks and he [would] come to Saugeen and drive me to the clinic to get a prescription or whatever I need[ed]. He is just there for everything.”

The tremendous dedication to the program and the team is what has allowed Western to remain the top squash school in Canada. After the remarkable season, five players were recognized for their accomplishments.

Herden was named Rookie of the Year and a first team all-star. Team captain Chris Hanebury was also named a first team all-star while Ian Crozier, Strachan Jarvis and Chetty were named to the second all-star team.

This year’s success has been incredible, especially considering the youth of this squad. Fairs knows his young athletes will continue improving and believes the Mustangs’ squash success will continue to draw interest from young recruits in the future.

The team’s consistency and dominance will hopefully translate into next season, where they can continue to build on an outstanding, 40-year tradition.

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