Cameron defends ‘Vous’ squash title

Jamie Mountain

It may be a new year but it was the same result for Sean Cameron.
The Thunder Bay native was spectacular yet again in defending his ‘A’ Open title from last year as he roared to a 3-1 win over Peter Russell of Winnipeg in the final of the Sunset Country Squash club’s 33rd-annual La Place Rendez-Vous tournament on Sunday afternoon.
“Sean Cameron of Thunder Bay was here to defend his title with a very adaptable and control game,” longtime tournament co-organizer Bob Tkachuk said.
“Standing in Cameron’s way was Peter Russell, the 2018 champ. Russell came out with a blasting pace to take the first game.
“Cameron adapted and reeled off three straight wins in a hotly contested match to win back-to-back titles,” he noted.
“3-1 was not indicative of how close the two combatants were,” Tkachuk stressed. “Extremely physical and mental play–with emotions in check–made for a wonderful final.”
The third-place game in the division saw Jon Thiessen (Winnipeg) defeat local Steve Boileau in a very taxing match.
The La Place Rendez-Vous tournament had a field of 70 registered players this year, which Tkachuk noted was by far the largest turnout in the tourney’s 33-year history, eclipsing the past mark of 67 players years ago.
“Players participating were from Fort Frances, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Sioux Lookout and Kenora. Twenty-four juniors in the tournament bodes well for the future of squash in the Northwest,” Tkachuk enthused.
In ‘A’ division action, former Fort junior, Anika Alexander–who now resides in Winnipeg–defeated the crafty veteran of Sioux Lookout, Gerson Agustin, 3-1 and using her full array of shots.
“Alexander possesses all the shots and she needed them to keep Agustin at bay. Alexander only lost one game all weekend long,” Tkachuk remarked.
Local player Chad Faragher persevered, digging deep with a comeback victory over a very “game” Dale Cizmar of Thunder Bay by a 3-2 count to claim third place in the division.
‘B’ Open veteran, local Mark Faragher, with 40 years of squash under his belt bested the field with four victories to seal the deal. Steve Bill (Thunder Bay) wound up in second and was tied in points with James Gill, also of Thunder Bay.
Gill finished third due to losing the head-to-head match with Gill.
In men’s ‘B’ play, Dave Schwartz was awarded the title as he won in a walkover injury to his opponent, Alex Bruyere, in the first game.
The third-place match was one of the most entertaining of the weekend with Mike Canfield prevailing over local junior Ryley Booth 3-2.
“Booth came back from two games down to test Canfield’s nerves to the limit,” said Tkachuk.
In the ‘C’ division, young junior Ivo Thiessen of Winnipeg cruised through the field with his stellar steady play, defeating local Bryan Strahl 3-0 in the final. Local Mike Brady was too strong in defeating junior Sam Bernardi of Thunder Bay 3-0 to snare third spot.
And in ‘D’ division action, Adrian Richards swept through the draw convincingly without losing a game to take home the crown.
Santhosh Boopathi ended up second, losing 3-0 to Richards.
New players in ‘D’ action included Andrew Wiersema and Logan Jackson facing off for third place, with Jackson coming out on top 3-1.
Over on the ladies’ side, the ‘B’ Division final featured perennial rivals Nikki Bagacki and Mary-Beth Tkachuk squaring off for the ‘umpteenth’ time, with Bagacki squeezing out a very satisfying 3-2 victory to win the title.
Jenelle Martin wound up third in the division with a 2-2 record.
In ‘C’ division play, Thunder Bay’s Dolly Niemi was victorious in the round robin with four straight wins. Rhonda Bill (Thunder Bay) took second while local Heather Wright was third because of a head-to-head loss in the round robin to Bill.
The Ladies Beginner ‘D’ round robin action saw Charmaine Langlais prevail with three straight wins to secure the top spot. Kerry Canfield wound up second.
The Junior ‘A’ division had three of the eight juniors also playing hockey all weekend as part of the Fort Frances Minor Hockey Association’s annual Bantam ‘A’ tourney.
Evan Strain edged Lane Booth in five games, that went right down to the wire for a 3-2 final.
“Both boys gave it all they had, as it’s said ‘leave it on the court’,” said Tkachuk.
Aiden Jean placed third in the division with a close win over fellow local Evan Wright.
Junior ‘B’ play featured an all-Winnipeg final with three of ex-local Ben Andrusco’s sons competing head-to-head.
Andrusco is four-time ‘A’ Open champ at the La Place Rendez-Vous tourney.
Younger brother Nathan narrowly bested his brother Isaiah 3-2, to finish first and second, respectively.
Cameron Bill (Thunder Bay) squeaked by a tired goalie and squash player, Carter Payne, to wind up third.
“Tournament organizers were once again more than pleased with the player turnout, support of sponsors, volunteers, food donations and player/parental support,” Tkacuk enthused.
Up next for local players is the Manitoba Open Pro-Am slated for March 6-8. That will be followed by the” Squash Cancer” and “Silver Fox” tourney in Thunder Bay on March 27-29.