Canadian Doubles Champions Crowned at 2015 Slaight Music and Ridley Windows & Doors Canadian Doubles Championships

    Courtesy of Daily Squash Report

    Courtesy of Daily Squash Report

    Faced with an enormously important  third-game simultaneous-game-ball challenge in a match in which to that juncture the teams found themselves completely deadlocked, statistically and in every other way as well, second seeds and defending champions Scott Arnold and Robin Clarke came up with the needed winner — on an inside-out backhand roll-corner that right-waller Arnold hit from the middle of the court with so severe an angle that it died in the front left  — and arm-fought their way through a close fourth game as well to emerge with a hard-earned 15-7 13-15 15-14 15-13 victory Sunday afternoon over No. 1 seeds Will Mariani and Thomas Brinkman in the final round of the Men’s Open division of the 2015 Slaight Music and Ridley Windows & Doors Canadian Doubles Championships, headquartered at the Toronto Cricket Skating & Curling Club. In the year that has passed since Arnold and Clarke first burst onto the squash doubles scene with their triumph in the 2014 edition of this championship, they have established themselves as a solid team on the SDA pro doubles circuit, including winning a Challenger event in Pittsburgh in early February, and in yesterday’s match, involving four players all of whom have won this title in recent years (Mariani did so with Ian Power and Brinkman with Gary Waite), they once again demonstrated the athleticism and teamwork that have served them so well all season. Both teams scored straight-set semifinal wins, with Mariani and Brinkman out-playing Iain Crozier and Colin West, while Arnold and Clarke rode a 15-14 first-game tally to their eventual win over last year’s finalists Fred Reid Jr. and Michael Pirnak.

        The Arnold/Clarke successful title defense(which was clinched on an Arnold cross-court that nicked cleanly in front of Mariani on match-ball), along with the peremptory manner in which Steph Hewitt and Seanna Keating soared to a three-love victory over three-time Women’s Open defending champions Dana Betts and Jess DiMauro, were the highlights of the weekend, which began with Thursday-evening ceremonies in which Jay Gillespie, Melanie Jans, Barbara Cooper and the late Mark Sachvie were inducted into the Ontario Squash Hall of Fame, and which also featured some rivetingly-competitive age-group battles at all stages of the draw. Perhaps most notably, in the Men’s 40 draw, which began with six teams before three of them had to withdraw, resulting in a three-team round-robin, first James Hewitt and Chris Deratnay ran off the last 10 points after trailing Willie Hosey and Ed Garno 10-5 in the fifth, with Hewitt producing more than a half-dozen winners during that stretch; then, just a few hours later, Jeff Mulligan and Scott Stoneburgh beat Hosey and Garno, also in five; and in a Sunday summit that effectively constituted a final, Mulligan and Stoneburgh prevailed, albeit barely, in a close four.

       Top seeds Dave Rosen and Nigel Thain proceeded through the 45’s draw without dropping a game, as did Paul Deratnay and Taylor Fawcett in the 50’s, though the score of the second game of their final against top seeds Bill Ullman and Bart Sambrook was 15-14. But in the 55’s, in which neither of the top-two seeds survived their opening match, eventual champs and unseeded first-time partners Eben Hardie and Rob Dinerman lived incredibly dangerously and were forced to play from behind all weekend, especially in a Friday-evening quarterfinal in which, after losing two of the first three games, they trailed David Jarvis and Scott Van Kampen 10-7 in the fourth, and later 13-9 in the fifth before winning the last six points. In the final against Gillespie and Namsoo Oh, Hardie and Dinerman again fell behind two games to one, but staged a late 9-2 spurt to close out the fourth and sprinted to a 15-3 tally in the fifth game, their 18th out of a possible 20 in their draining four-match run.

       The five upper-level men’s age-group events were all won by the top-seeded teams, with Sandy Tierney and Sean McDonough defeating Malcolm Davidson and Steve Hisey in the 60’s final, John Boynton and Tim Griffin doing the same to Brian Murray and Stephen Mcintyre in the 65’s final and Molson Robertson and Tony Swift winning, 15-14 in the third, over Tom Poor and Peter Hall in the 70’s final. The Men’s 75’s and 80’s were both three-team round-robins and were won by Ritchie Bell and Don Mills (without losing a game) and Trevor Bishop and Peter Holland respectively.

       In the women’s age-group competition, top seeds Michele Ramsey and Jody Warden eked out a closely-contested 15-11 fifth-game 40’s final over Annette White and Kirsteen Burton; Robbin Morrison and Tammie Sangster similarly fulfilled their top-seeded standing with a 3-0 final in the 45’s over Cathy Brown and Ruth Castellino; Leslie Freeman and Jann Taylor took a tight four-game 55’s final against Cathy Tuckwell and Megan Hill, with 15-14 scores in both the third and fourth games; and Lolly Gillen, back in action after missing much of the season rehabbing after shoulder surgery in October, teamed up with Susan Kaffka to take the 60’s flight. The tournament also offered a Men’s B (won by Tony Lusiba and Aaron Zenner), a Women’s B (won by Shivani Ruparell and Sybylle Witt) and a Men’s C, the largest draw of all with 31 teams, from which Colin Chisom and Byron Goodwin emerged as champions.

     Overall, there were 142 teams, one of the largest turnouts in the history of this event, and a tribute to the Tournament Committee, known as "The Cricket Dream Team", which was composed of Co-Chairs Debie O’Neill and Pat Richardson, along with the host club’s pros Pat Ryding and Robin Clarke, with Bill Richards overseeing the draws, Tim Mallory serving as the Tournament Referee, live streaming of many matches by Josh Ginou and a host of volunteers at all levels of the operation. Gary Slaight was responsible for the Slaight Music being a prime sponsor, and Jon LeHeup and Don and Doug Bannan secured the sponsorship of Ridley Windows & Doors. The three doubles clubs in the main venue saw constant action throughout the three-day event, as did the Granite Club, Mayfair and the Royal Canadian Yacht Club, and the galleries at every locale were packed with enthusiastic supporters. There is always an unmistakable buzz of happy energy permeating the Canadian National Doubles that far exceeds its U. S. counterpart, imbuing this tournament with a distinctive spark and excitement, and this year fully lived up to that legacy. Many of the participants exited the arena already looking forward to the 2016 Canadian National Doubles, scheduled to be held for the first time out west in Calgary, Alberta.