Junior squash players to ‘test their limits’ in Canada Open
A potent mix of experienced youngsters and talented newcomers will be flying the flag for Bermuda in the 2022 Canadian Junior Open squash tournament this week.
Ten players aged 21 or under are heading to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, to take on some of the world’s best young players in one of the year’s most prestigious events, which starts on Saturday.
Anaya Smith, assistant coach at the Bermuda Squash and Racquets Association, has previous experience in the competition and is leading his young squad into battle with the expectation of some tough matches ahead.
“It’s a lot bigger than anything they will be used to,” Smith said. “It’s a different level to anything they will have seen before and you have people coming from all over the world. Players from Egypt, Asia and South America will be there so it will be a good experience and different atmosphere for them.
“As a junior, to test your limits here you have to play older players and adults. I’ve seen a lot of good stuff in the last couple of months and pretty happy with how things are going.”
Smith is hoping he will also get the chance to put on his squash gear after being named as a reserve for the under-23 event.
“At first, when I signed up, it was a closed event but it was then made into an open event so there were some guys from the United States who entered and are high in the rankings. I’m still hoping to slide in as a reserve as usually there are some dropouts.”
He may be 21 but Smith is a veteran of international competition, which is in stark contrast to 16-year-old Gabrielle Turchiaro, who will be representing Bermuda abroad for the first time
“I’m really excited,” Turchiaro said. “I always hope to win but obviously there are people coming from all around the world that are probably at a higher level, but I think it will be a good experience no matter what.”
Rose Paulos, 14, competed in the Caribbean Area Squash Association’s Junior Championships but is well aware she is stepping up a level.
“I went to the junior Casa in July and that was my first time going away for squash,” Paulos said. “It was really fun, it was a good environment and people were very friendly. I did really well in the Caribbean but there is a lot more people from different places here. I’m just hoping to win my first game. If I don’t, to do well in the plate would be amazing too.”
Olivia Sherratt is also 14 and happy with the way her game has improved this year.
“I also played in Casa,” she said. “I really loved it there and played well but I think I’ve improved since then, so I’m hoping not particularly to get a better place overall but to play better squash and to have better matches. My goal is for anyone that I play, whether I win or lose, is to make sure that they don’t have an easy game and that I make it hard for them to win.”
Brothers Owen and Ethan Rosorea are also preparing to fly to Canada but the older sibling is keen to play down any sibling rivalry.
“I don’t really feel the pressure to be better than my brother because I always will be,” said Ethan, 15.
“I’ve been to Canada twice before so I do know what I’m up against and I don’t expect to win many matches. I’d hope to win one but there are some very good players there. I’ve been to quite a few countries through playing now and I’ve met a lot of people that I’m looking forward to seeing again.”
Younger brother Owen finished second in a competition in Boston this summer and finished runner-up against a player from Pakistan with an impressive pedigree.
“I’d say I’m decent,” Owen, 13, said. “Boston was good, it was a huge facility with lots of squash courts and pretty amazing. I lost in the final and his father was number 10 in the world and his brother was top 20, so it was pretty good. In Canada, I’m in the lower end of my age group. I’m 13 in the under-15 age group so I’m hoping to place as well as I did last time.”
BSRA coach Micah Franklin has high hopes for Andrew Cox, 15, who will need to adapt his playing style after becoming used to playing against adults in Bermuda.
“There’s a large community of adults who play here so even if I can’t play against kids my age, I can play several adults,” Cox said.
“It’s a different play style and I can hit lots of drops against older players and they wouldn’t get it whereas kids would, so I always have a challenge here.” Cox said. “I’m hoping to get a scholarship through squash and go to college but I won’t be going to boarding school, so I’ll be here until I’m 18.”
Taylor Carrick, Abigail Brewer and Ariana Lowther, who are based in either Canada or London, complete Bermuda’s contingent.