Underground pros

Queen’s players set sights on pro success, OUA supremacy

First-year men’s squash player Mo Hamour was named OUA Rookie of the Year.
First-year men’s squash player Mo Hamour was named OUA Rookie of the Year.
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Queen’s squash players are getting paid to play at the highest levels.

Erin Roberts coached and played in her fourth year with Queen’s team, competing in individual professional matches on the side for cash prizes. She’s currently competing in a $10,000 tournament in Toronto.

The OUA first-team All-Star is dabbling in the tournaments while she finishes school.

“There’s all the way up to $100,000 ones but I could never get into those — I only play in the lower ones,” Roberts said. “But it’s hard because it’s like you’ve got to be top 10 to make a living.

“So you’ve got to get a job and do it on the side ... which a lot of people do, but it’s definitely tough.”

While she competes in pro tournaments, her squash rankings fluctuate. She’s currently ranked 179th in the world, 26th in Canada and 14th in Ontario.

As players all seek to climb the ranks, one collective goal is to have squash inducted into the Olympics. After the bid for 2016 failed, Roberts said the squash world is rallying for the next Games in 2020.

“The bid’s pretty big — I know [Roger] Federer backed it,” Roberts said. “A lot of people play it but don’t realize there’s also the competitive aspect to it. There’s a whole other world out there — there’s a professional league.”

First-year men’s player Mo Hamour is part of the movement. He’s also part of a select few who’s played squash competitively since he was 10.

“I think it’s a crime that it’s not in [the Olympics] right now,” Hamour said. “If you watch the pros on YouTube, these guys are the most in-shape people.

Their movement is so good that they don’t need to over-exert themselves.”

At 19, Hamour is having his rackets and apparel paid for by Black Knight, a squash racquet company. He currently sits 5th in the under-19 Ontario level and 11th in Canada.

His current challenge lies in the OUA — dethroning the Western Mustangs squash team, the winners of 30 straight OUA men’s squash championships.

“As a team right now, they’re definitely not beatable. In the OUA, no one can touch them,” he said. “But I want to be part of the team that beats them.”

The reigning OUA rookie of the year said he wants to eventually be the best in Ontario — bar none.

“I’m really amped up to just train really hard in the summer because there are not many players in the OUA who are better than me,” Hamour said. “I want to be the best — just kind of have that title.”

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