Kabel takes Boxing Day crown

If its contents had even just a glimpse of truth, then it would speak volumes about the sport of squash.
And after witnessing the enduring sport played by some of Fort Frances’ best players at the annual Boxing Day men’s squash tournament here Sunday, one could see why the game is put on such a pedestal.
When you look over the board placed beside the squash courts at the Memorial Sports Centre, you will find a sheet of paper about the size of a dessert menu that serves casual observers with information.
It states: Squash is No. 1—Squash has been rated as the tope sport in a survey of the 10 Healthiest Sports by Forbes magazine. The ranking of the activities considered to be “a great way to get fit—and keep you there” was: squash. . . .
And after seeing some incredible matches played during the tournament, it would be hard to argue with the declaration.
Former Fort Frances resident Jason Kabel, who now lives in Winnipeg, proved to be the cream of the crop among the 15 competitors entered this year as he won the ‘A’-side title.
But it wasn’t easy for Kabel, who had to get through four best-of-five matches before being crowned the victor.
He opened play with a 3-0 win against Jeromy Wensley, then earned a 3-1 victory over Steve Krag, one of the top junior players in the region.
Local squash veteran Bob Tkachuk was up next and though he jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Kabel was able to battle back and push the match to the full five games before emerging victorious.
That put Kabel up against Toby Munro, who had a relatively easy run to the ‘A’ final—a pair of 3-1 wins over Aaron Grynol and Al Christiansen (his match against Paul Visser was cancelled).
Munching on mandarins, slices of cheddar cheese, and carrots, spectators watched Munro and Kabel chew away at each other as both players traded punches throughout their match.
Munro won the first game 9-7, but Kabel came back to win the next three by scores of 9-7, 9-3, and 9-0 to wrap up a fabulous day of squash.
“I’m not playing again for three weeks,” laughed Kabel, who after making that remark promptly exchanged phone numbers with fellow competitors to play against until he heads back to Winnipeg after the holidays.
Not to be outdone was Grynol, who got knocked down to the ‘B’ side after his opening loss to Munro. But he then swept both Chad Faragher and Jason Sobkowicz by 3-0 scores to reach the ‘B’ final against John Sivonen.
After an opening loss to Tkachuk, Sivonen had a relatively easy run to the ‘B’ final with 3-0 wins over Ryan York and Chris Faragher.
That final was interesting in that the two are close friends, are attending school in London, and routinely play against one another, though usually not with a referee recording the outcome—not to mention spectators watching their every move.
That certainly didn’t hinder their play, but rather escalated it as the match—filled with spectacular rallies and jaw-dropping shots—was by far the best of the day.
Sivonen blanked Grynol 9-0 in the first game, but Grynol answered by winning the next two by scores of 9-2 and 9-3.
The fourth game was a nail-biter that Sivonen won 10-8 to force the fifth-and-deciding game, which Grynol won in dramatic fashion 10-9 to capture the ‘B’ title.
“Squash is a great game, but it’s a game that can be very addicting—and it’s played by people that hate to lose,” noted Kabel.
Yet another declaration about the game that was proven over the course of just one day.