Michael Desaulniers began playing in 1969 at the Vancouver Racquets Club (VRC). He first played in the old VRC converted barn on Oak Street while the club was building a new clubhouse by Main Street. For the next three years, Mike played the Pacific Coast circuit of Men’s ABCD and Junior 18 & Under tournaments and travelled by bus to Seattle for lessons with Yusuf Khan.
By 1973, he was about to outgrow the West Coast competition. He had won the Canadian Under 16 and became the youngest A player ever on the Pacific Coast at age 15, then started reaching the semis of open events the following week. That summer Michael moved to Montreal to be coached by Barry Binns at the MAAA and had the opportunity to play champions including 2-time Canadian and US Singles Champion Colin Adair.
Michael won the Canadian Under 19 and four Canadian Men’s Championships while a resident of Montreal, the 1975, 1976 and 1979 Softball and 1978 Hardball. In 1976, he began attending Harvard where he had an unsurpassed college career, winning three individual championships as well as being undefeated in team play. He defeated defending champion Phil Mohtadi in the first individual final and future US Squash Hall of Fame inductees Tom Page and Ned Edwards in the other two.
While he was at Harvard, Michael and Sharif Khan began one of our sport’s great rivalries, playing 18 times between 1977 and 1982, splitting 9 wins each. In 1981, Mike won the WPSA Championship, forerunner of the Tournament of Champions, and overtook Sharif as the #1 ranked player in North America, a spot Sharif had held since 1969.
The following season he dominated the North American pro tour, at one point winning 7 consecutive WPSA tournaments including the North American Open, and finished the season ranked #1. Michael played another season and then took a hiatus before returning to the pro tour in 1985 for another year of spectacular squash including wins over the perennial #1 Mark Talbott in the WPSA Championship and Canadian Open before regaining the #2 ranking and retiring. Mark Talbott described Michael by saying, “No one was faster, and I so enjoyed playing against Mike because it was clean, no lets-or-BS-all-court-squash that was very entertaining and imaginative.”
As an amateur, by age 22, Michael had won four Canadian Men’s titles, played #1 for Canada at three World Championships and won seven US Championships: two Men’s Open, three Intercollegiate and two Junior. As a professional, Michael won the North American Open, 15 WPSA singles titles and two World Doubles Championships. Michael is the only player to have won both the WPSA and North American Open singles and doubles titles.
- 1973 – Canadian Juvenile 16 & Under Champion
- 1975, 1976, 1979 – Canadian Men’s Champion (Softball)
- 1975, 1977, 1979 – Played #1 on the Canadian Team at the ISRF World Championship
- 1975, 1976 – U.S. Junior 18 & Under Champion
- 1976 – Canadian Junior 18 & Under Champion
- 1977, 1978, 1980 – U.S. Intercollegiate Champion
- 1978 – Canadian Men’s Champion (Hardball)
- 1978, 1980 – U.S. Men’s Champion
- 1981 – World Professional Squash Association Champion (Hardball), now known as the Tournament of Champions – Softball
- 1982 – North American Open Champion
- 1982, 1983 – World Doubles Championship
- 1985, 1986 – North American Doubles Championships
- 1995 – Inducted into the College Squash Association Hall of Fame
- 2017 – Inducted into the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame
Michael won a total of 15 WPSA Tour singles events and at one time won 7 events in a row.
In addition to his remarkable Junior and Professional accolades, Michael continues to support Canadian National Doubles events.
- 2013, 2015 – Canadian Men’s 55+ Doubles Champion (Pat Richardson)