After 35 years, squash tournament still drawing competitors

By Allan Bradbury
Staff writer

Before sharing the results of last weekend’s squash tournament here is a brief history of the tournament as recounted by organizer Bob Tkachuk.

The Sunset Country Squash Club’s annual home tournament dates back to 1988 according to Tkachuk. That year 20 players came together from Fort Frances and Kenora and the first winner was Al Holt of Fort Frances.

“Mark Norton of Kenora was the 1990 champion,” Tkachuk said. “Mark went on to many finals, losing to Bob Shine, 11-time winner and men’s record holder many times.”

Women were invited to play in the tournament for the first time in 1995. Mary-Beth Tkachuk of Fort Frances was a 14-time winner among the women’s events.

A junior category was added to the event in 2008.

In 2017 John Zajac of Thunder Bay became the youngest winner of the Men’s A event entering as a junior at 16 years of age in 2017 and defeating his coach Bob Shine.

A tournament participant makes a play on the ball during Sunset Country Squash Club’s 35th annual tournament. 63 players from Fort Frances, Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay and Winnipeg all competed across multiple Men’s, Women’s, and Junior divisions. –Allan Bradbury photo

The 35 annual tournament took place this past weekend at the Memorial Sports Centre squash courts.

The tournament has added many categories over the years and in 2023 took place with Men’s A, B, C, and D divisions. Women’s B and C divisions and Junior A, B, and C divisions.

Men’s A Open winner was Jon Thiessen of Winnipeg over 2 time past Champion Sean Cameron of Thunder Bay in the top Men’s event.

According to Tkachuk, the finals match was no doubt the highlight of the tournament.

In the Men’s A round-robin, 15 year old Ivo Thiessen of Winnipeg ran the table to capture the title.

In the Men’s B Open event final, local player Josh Councillor had a strong weekend and defeated Mike Canfield three games to one to cap it off.

The Men’s B event was closely contested with Andrew Hanson topping Alex Bruyere for total points in the round robin event.

The Men’s C Open final was a Brady brothers affair with older brother Mike defeating brother Ryan 3 games to 2 in a good out and out battle on the court, Tkachuk said.

In the Men’s C event local player Chris Bobczynski topped the field in round-robin action winning the division.

In a full field for the Men’s D event, local Dan Gavel captured the event with a hotly contested battle with Logan Jackson 3 games to 1.

In the Women’s B event Sarah Faragher proved too strong for the field, winning all of her matches for the title.

The Ladies C event was all rookie players in their first tourney. Jenna Clendenning emerged the winner of the event.

In the Junior event there were three divisions for varied levels of play. The Junior A event was an all-brother final from Winnipeg with Isaiah Andrusco defeating younger brother Nathan 3 games to 1 for the title.

The Junior B event was an all local affair with Grayson Wright emerging the winner and Graeme Drombolis placing second.

The Junior C beginner event Camron Oster won the trophy with Everlee Canfield taking the 2nd place trophy on round robin points.

Overall, Tkachuk says getting back to hosting the tournament went well.

“The 35th Annual Sunset Country Country’s Squash Tournament was a resounding success for 2023, especially after all the COVID shutdowns in the last few years.”

Next up, Sunset Country Squash members will play in the Premier Manitoba Open pro-am event March 15-19. Then they’ll cap the season with Thunder Bay’s Annual “Silver Fox/Squash Cancer” event April 21-23.