Silver for men's squash in Toronto

Western wins 29th straight OUA crown after beating Queen’s 6-0 in tournament final

Bob Noakes and the men’s squash team earned a second straight OUA silver medal in Toronto last weekend.
Bob Noakes and the men’s squash team earned a second straight OUA silver medal in Toronto last weekend.

The men’s squash team earned its second- straight silver medal at the OUA championship in Toronto last weekend after falling to the top-ranked Western Mustangs in the tournament final.

The Mustangs have won 29 straight OUA titles and routinely post strong finishes at U.S. competitions. They were ranked ninth in North America on the Dunlop Men’s College Squash Association Team Rankings, released on Jan. 29.

Mustangs head coach Jack Fairs, 88, has been coaching the team since 1947, winning 39 OUA titles in that span. Gaels second-seeded player Amr Hamour said Fairs’ reputation is respected worldwide.

“He’s dedicated his life to making this program,” he said. “[Western] recruits the craziest players.”

The Gaels lost 6-0 in the final, but Hamour said it was closer than the scoreline suggested.

“It was one of the most competitive finals in at least the past five years,” he said. “We held our own, we’re pretty satisfied.”

Hamour said since the Mustangs were heavy favourites, the Gaels were more than happy with second place.

“It was our goal to beat them but it was also kind of a dream,” he said.

Alex Ford, the Gaels’ first seed, won the individual bronze medal this weekend to qualify for the Canadian University and College Championship at the University of Calgary from March 2 to 4.

At the OUA tournament, every encounter was played out through six individual matches. Before the weekend, participating teams seeded their six players in order from most competitive to least competitive — each player competed against an opponent of the same seed in a best-of-five match, with each match counting for a point.

In the event of a tie, the winner was determined by the amount of games won over the six individual match-ups. In the group stage, the Gaels and the McMaster Marauders tied 3-3 in matches, but Queen’s won the tiebreak 12-11 in total games.

The Gaels qualified for the final after defeating the University of Toronto Varsity Blues 5-1 in the semifinal. They beat the Brock Badgers 6-0 and the Marauders during the group stage.

The women’s team finished fifth overall after beating the Brock Badgers 6-0 in a consolation match. The Gaels finished at the bottom of their first-round group after falling 6-0 to the Western Mustangs and losing 10-9 in games to the Waterloo Warriors after a 3-3 tie.

The men’s team came into the weekend ranked third in the OUA behind the Mustangs and the second-place Marauders. Hamour said beating McMaster was the team’s biggest accomplishment at the tournament.

“It was huge for us,” he said. “It was the first time we’ve beat them this year.”

Hamour won three times and lost once over the weekend. He’s graduating at the end of the year.

“Three of our top six guys are leaving,” he said. “[Next year] will be kind of a rebuilding year.”

Head coach Eugene Zaremba said it will be difficult to replicate this season’s silver medal in the next few years with such a big changeover.

“I don’t think we have the players to step into their shoes,” he said.

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