Canada’s best squash players are coming to the Vancouver Racquets Club this weekend for the 2013 national team masters championships.
The showcase tournament for elite Canadian squash draws from the fastest growing segment of players, athletes aged 30 to 70-plus, in addition to some of the very people who picked up the quick court game when it surged in popularity nearly 30 years ago.
“We’re expecting the top four teams to be super competitive,” said tournament co-chair and Team B.C. player Robert Pacey. The strongest teams draw from Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and B.C., he said, noting the host province entered two teams, an elite and a recreational side.
“The more recreational players, they’re the ones who make it entertaining, let’s say, and I place myself squarely in this group,” he said.
The co-ed teams count four men and three women. Matches are free for spectators and begin Friday, Jan. 18 at 3 p.m. and continue all day Saturday, Jan. 19. The championship rounds begin Sunday, Jan 20.
Pacey, a long-time member of the Vancouver Racquets Club, is certainly no slouch as an athlete. He’s ranked 135th in B.C. But the elite competitors include provincial and national team players as well as six-time Canadian masters champion Steve Lawton, a Vancouverite known for his big moustache and even bigger personality.
Lawton, 55, plays down his ambition for the 2013 team masters because the squash professional at the Vancouver Racquets Club is also the tournament co-chair with Pacey.
Starting with a win in the 30-to-34 age category in 1990, Lawton was a men’s masters champion five more times from 1993 to 2003. He is also an eight-time B.C. champion.
Team B.C.’s elite players include national women’s singles champion Laura Ramsay, 63, World Police and Fire Games gold medal winner Trevor Latimer, 42, and B.C. Open Champion Mark O’Neill, 54.
The second Team B.C. includes two Vancouver women ranked in the province’s the top 50: Brooke Macey, 48, and Anna Kirbyson, 46.
The Vancouver Racquets Club, located at Hillcrest Park near the community centre, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. Squash is a life-long and social sport that draws players of all ages in different stages of their lives, said Pacey, 44.
“Squash is a game that can be played your whole life,” he said.
For a complete tournament draw, visit squash.ca.