Men’s, women’s squash medal at OUA Championships

Men’s team takes bronze, women’s gold at Queen’s hosted tournament

The women's squash team pose with their championship banner.
The women's squash team pose with their championship banner.
Credit: 
Supplied by Ian MacAlpine

If there were any doubts as to whether the women’s squash team could continue their longstanding domination in the OUA, they squashed them this past weekend.

After dominating their opponents with 41 wins and four losses across their five matches, the Gaels were crowned the OUA women’s squash champions for the fourth year in a row. The accolades didn’t stop there this weekend, as Nora Abdelrahman Ibrahim was named an OUA All-Star.

The women’s gold comes just a week after they took home silver at the Jesters Squash Championship on Feb. 4 in Toronto. Their second place finish at the tune-up tournament proved to be a blessing in disguise. Team captain Alysha Aznik said it allowed the team to re-strategize and become motivated ahead of the OUA Championships.

“I think [after our loss] we were more determined to prove ourselves and not only win the championship for the fourth time in a row, but also redeem ourselves from [Jesters Championship],” she said.

Though impressive, the Gaels’ ongoing reign in the OUA only increases the pressure to win more. Anzik said there are advantages and drawbacks to being one of the best teams in the province. 

“Our continued success has built us a reputation in the squash world,” Anzik said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the players to perform in the coming season.” 

Despite this, Anzik added the team’s fourth gold medal win “has been good for [attracting] new players to play next year, which is great.”

The women’s team wasn’t the only Queen’s team to medal in the ARC over the weekend. The men’s team also won bronze, with Alex Collins named OUA Rookie of the Year and Cameron Butler an OUA All-Star.

The Gaels’ third-place finish comes a week after they won gold at the Jesters Squash Championships — their first ever gold at the tournament. 

Men's squash with their bronze medals at the arc. Photo by Ian MacAlpine

“The team came out of the Jesters finals with a lot of confidence and the belief that a medal at the OUAs was definitely in reach,” Gaels head coach Eugene Zaremba told The Journal via email. “Our only concern was Western who we knew would be sending a much stronger team to the OUA’s.”

After a somewhat unexpected 3-4 loss to Waterloo early in the tournament, the Gaels realized they had to change their plan of attack.

“Second [place] was definitely the goal for us this weekend,” rookie Euan Hannigan said. “After our [loss to Waterloo], we realized we needed to really perform against U of T the next day since we were competing with them for third place.”

Following their match with Waterloo, the re-energized Gaels went on to beat Guelph, Brock, McMaster and U of T in successive order to secure bronze. 

According to Zaremba, this medal caps off a year filled with highs. The coach credits this to the play of “some very talented rookies,” including Hannigan, Collins, Alex Dorbyk and Willem Atack. 

Hannigan further credited their success to a cohesive team dynamic, which he described as “tight-knit” and “a lot of fun.”

Whereas the women’s team can rely on their ongoing triumphs to attract new players, Zaremba said he hopes his team’s success this year speaks for itself when trying to recruit players. 

“[W]ord of our success this year and of our fantastic squash facilities will encourage some top talent to come to Queen’s,” the coach said.

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