Squash wins OUA banner

Women claim championship in stunning upset over McGill University

The women’s squash team pose with their OUA banner.
The women’s squash team pose with their OUA banner.
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The women’s squash team claimed Queen’s second OUA championship banner of the year with key victories last weekend in St. Catherines. The Gaels beat the Western Mustangs 4-2 in the semifinals, setting the stage for a close final with the second-ranked McGill Martlets. Queen’s and McGill each won three of the six matches, but the Gaels were awarded the championship, having won 12 games to the Martlets’ 10.

Team captain Michelle Craig said she’s thrilled to win the championship.

“It was so exciting,” she said. “It was kind of a surprise: we’d been working hard and we’d talked about it, but for it to actually happen was great. Against Western, we definitely thought we had a good chance. McGill, it was kind of up in the air. … We knew it would be tight.”

Craig lost her match against McGill, but fought back from a 2-0 deficit to lose 3-2. The extra two wins proved decisive in the Gaels’ championship.

“It was really nice to actually get those two wins,” she said.

Craig was also named an OUA First Team All-Star Thursday, along with Rebecca Hazlett, who plays in the team’s number-one slot and faces the toughest opponents.

Hazlett said she thinks the team’s performance in the championship was the strongest they’d played all year.

“It was pretty exciting,” she said. “Everyone played so well.”

Against McGill in the final, Hazlett faced the difficult task of taking on a former professional player, Olga Puigdemont Sola of Barcelona, Spain. Hazlett managed to win one game, and their match drew the biggest crowd of the tournament.

“It’s intimidating, but it’s also like you have nothing to lose,” she said.

Hazlett said she hopes the team’s championship banner—their first since 1998—gives the athletics department reason to keep them around after April 2009, when interuniversity teams will be reviewed again.

“I feel we’ve met quite a few of the criterions,” she said. “Hopefully we’ve improved our status.”

The review ranked men’s and women’s squash together, and put them in a tie for 24­th place with the sailing team.

Assistant coach Stacy Bell said the victory was huge for the future of the squash team.

“Obviously it’s not only amazing for ourselves [as coaches] and the girls, because they worked so hard, but it’s also good for our program,” he said. “I told the girls before the final they’re not just playing for themselves, they’re playing for the future of the program.”

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