Semi Final #1: Quebec (1) vs. Manitoba (4)
Manitoba fielded a solid team to this tournament but as with PEI in the quarter finals, the Quebec squad was simply too strong. I wish I had caught more of this contest as I'm sure there would have been some great squash but the host province takes the first spot in the final on the back of a solid victory.
Semi Final #2: Alberta (2) vs. Ontario (3)
Tyler Hamilton d. Grayson Witcher (3-1)
A combination of great play from Witcher and a slow start from Hamilton allowed “Gray” to take the first game. After that though Hamilton settled in and you could tell it would only be a matter of time before Witcher ran out of steam. On the 17” tin, Hamilton’s drops were deadly and while his Albertan opponent would track many of them down in the second, the number dwindled in the 3rd and 4th games as Hamilton made them tighter while Gray tired. In the end, the Ontarian player simply controlled where play took place too well for the Albertan and would take the match in 4 games.
Dane Sharp d. Andrew Schnell (3-2)
In what was one of the most anticipated matches of the tournament, the #3 and #5 players in Canada did not disappoint the crowd awaiting their on-court contest. In a thrilling match that saw numerous lead changes, fantastic nicks, and unbelievable retrieving, a down-to-the-wire finish was a perfect way to have it happen. After splitting the first 2 games, Schnell would take the third with extremely consistent and disciplined play. Sharp seemed to be tiring and Schnell was taking advantage, moving him around the court and jumping on loose balls that Dane provided. Despite fatigue setting in Sharp regrouped in the fourth and it was excellent squash to start the game. A nick drop from Andrew, a fantastic counter drop from Dane; both players came out firing and it was something to see! They traded even points to 5-5 before Dane opened up a lead on the back of play that was obviously frustrating Andrew. The Albertan was controlling most of the play but to Dane's credit he dug deep and played a retrieval game until he got his opportunities and while they were few, to Andrew's frustration he was capitalizing on them. A marathon rally at 9-5 saw Schnell give Sharp a scenic tour of the court before a loose length provided a let opportunity. Schnell's frustration was visible at this point and 2 tins in the next 3 rallies illustrated this and give Dane the game and level the match at 2-2. In many ways the 5th game was a snapshot of the match. Schnell played extremely consistent, disciplined, and controlled the majority of the rallies. Sharp scrambled, scratched and clawed his way through to capitalize on the small number of opportunities he had to win rallies. It was extremely tight, but in the end Sharp frustrated Schnell by retrieving well and forced errors at key points. He would take the 5th tight and the match 3-2.
So after winning the first 2 matches Ontario upsets Alberta and moves onto the final to face Quebec! Should be an entertaining contest with some high quality squash.
In the consolation side, Nova Scotia defeated Saskatchewan 3-0 and Quebec #2 defeated PEI 3-0 so they will play for 5th on sunday and Saskatchewan and PEI will play for 7th.