The finale to the 2015 Canada Winter Games Squash Competition could not have been scripted better, as both the Men’s and Women’s Gold Medal Finals provided excitement from beginning to end on Saturday night at the Northern Sport Centre.
Saturday’s schedule again began with placement matches to determine 5th through 12th place in each the Men’s and Women’s Team events. PEI played their way to their best ever finish of 5th place in both the Men’s and Women’s events. New Brunswick’s Women also tied their best placing of 9th in their return to the Games, missing the 2011 and 2003 editions.
The Medal matches began in the afternoon with the Women’s Gold and Bronze up first. Alberta took an early lead over Manitoba in the Bronze matchup, winning 3-0 and 3-1 in the first two matches. This put them in a strong position going into the matchup of team number ones Hannah Blatt (MB) and Tara Shannon (AB). Alberta only needed to win two more games in the encounter to claim the Bronze medal, and Shannon sealed that fate by getting two games off of Blatt despite Manitoba’s 3-2 win. Manitoba won the fourth match as well, but it was too little too late.
In each of the first two Gold Medal matches, British Columbia came out strong to take the first two games and put Ontario in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable position. Amy Commisso and Nicole Kendall dug deep to overcome the deficit and come out with crucial 3-2 match wins over Zoe Colclough and Andrea Toth, respectively. With games going to the maximum number, Ontario needed to win another match to secure the Gold, which Sophie Mehta did when she defeated Individual Champion Michele Garceau despite dropping the first game.
Ontario’s Men’s Team were looking to join the Women on top of the podium and claim their third straight Canada Games Gold. The match started off very strong for Ontario, with their position four and three players, Ravi Seth and Husam Hamour coming out strong with 3-0 match wins. This seemed to put Ontario in a favourable position, as winning just one game in the next two matches would win them the Gold medal. This seemed to be well within their reach with Carter Robitaille and Alexi Gosset still to play.
Michael Mehl was next up for Alberta against Robitaille, and was determined to continue his successful week. A gritty and physical match, Mehl came out on top with a convincing 3-0 win, 11-5 in each game. Robitaille and Ontario were visibly disappointed, knowing a big opportunity was already missed. All hope was not lost though, as Alexi Gosset still had a chance to secure Gold as he stepped on court to face Brett Schille of Calgary. Schille took the first game 11-5, which not only kept the encounter tied in matches and games, but was quickly closing the gap in the second tiebreaker of points. When Schille won the second game 11-6, points were even across all games in the match – the Gold Medal final had come down to one game, winner take all.
Keeping with the thrilling theme, the game was back and forth, often tied at points. Gosset saved a few match balls, but was unable to hold off Schille who showed ultimate focus and composure, completing the remarkable Team Alberta comeback with the win 11-9. Alberta won the Men’s Team Gold, their first since 2003 and a welcome return to the podium after placing 4th in 2011.
Also returning to the podium was Quebec, winning their second straight Men’s Team Bronze after defeating British Columbia 4-0. Dominic Wren and Tommy Scott started the encounter with strong wins over Nicholas Vincent and Ryan Picken 3-1 and 3-0. This set the stage for David Baillargeon, the Individual Silver Medallist competing in his last junior tournament. Baillargeon delivered a convincing 3-0 win over Matthew Toth to go out in style and add the Bronze medal to his collection.
A special thank you to the Canada Games Host Society and Local Organizing Committee for all of their work leading up to the Games, and also to our team of Officials for their long days of hard work to keep up with the long squash schedule. It was a great experience for all of the teams to play in such a unique venue with two glass courts, and really helped to showcase the wonderful game of squash.
See you in Red Deer in 2019!
Final Women’s Standings Final Men’s Standings
Gold – Ontario Gold – Alberta
Silver – British Columbia Silver – Ontario
Bronze – Alberta Bronze – Quebec
4th – Manitoba 4th – British Columbia
5th – Prince Edward Island 5th – Prince Edward Island
6th – Nova Scotia 6th – Manitoba
7th – Quebec 7th – Saskatchewan
8th – Saskatchewan 8th – Nova Scotia
9th – New Brunswick 9th – Newfoundland
10th – Yukon 10th – Northwest Territories
11th – Newfoundland 11th – Yukon
12th – Northwest Territories 12th – New Brunswick