Whistlers top squash players have always made a practice of competing in tournaments in the Lower Mainland and around the province, but never in the numbers the Whistler Squash Club put together for last weekends Sun N Surf tournament in Vancouver. The competition took place at Jericho Tennis and Squash Club, and the players put in some hard training that paid off.
In the womens C category, local players Polly French and Natasha Strim made it to the finals, with French winning the division in a close match.
Greg Williamson and Norm Strim also made it to the playoffs, where they were relegated to the consolation final for third place. Williamson took that game to give Whistler its third podium.
Ben Thomas, one of Whistlers top players, made it to the semi-finals of the Mens Open competitive category where he lost out to the fourth ranked player in the province and tournament champion. Other Whistler entries were Rob Eberhard in Mens A, Richard Drennan in Mens C, Zuanne Silson in Womens C, Lloyd Adams in Mens D, and Parry Pollock in Mens C.
"Ten is the most players weve ever had go to a Vancouver competition," said Thomas. "Its so fantastic, the interest in squash in Whistler right now is at an all-time high. We were voted as the number one indoor sport by Pique in 2006 and the league continues to be sold out."
While gratifying, Thomas says the popularity of the sport has made it hard to book time at Meadow Parks two courts. During the winter you often have to book two days in advance to get a spot between 5 and 9 p.m. and rainy days in the summer are equally busy.
For that reason the Whistler Squash Club is holding a public open house meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 30 to talk about the possibility of getting courts at the tennis club facility being proposed by the Holborn Group. If youre a squash player and are interested, the meeting is at Spruce Grove Field House from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be a squash exhibition match after the meeting featuring some of the top-ranked players in the province.
Currently the plan doesnt include any squash courts, but the club believes theres enough local interest to warrant more playing areas. As well, Thomas says new courts will give Whistler the ability to host more tournaments.
"For us its a bit of a no-brainer as (tournaments) can drive business to the resort in the off-season," he said. "We need more courts to satisfy the local population, and to attract a lot of players from Vancouver who are second-home owners or are coming from the U.S. and want to get in a game. Its another strong, non-weather-dependent activity for Whistler."
According to Thomas visitors from all over the U.S. contact the Squash club to line up games against players of a similar ability, and club members are usually happy to oblige.
The Whistler Squash League will start up again in the fall. As usual teams will be looking for entry level players this September as their rookies from past years graduate to a higher level of play. More details will be announced in the coming weeks.