McMaster looks to put hands on OUA squash hardware

For a quarter of a century, the Western Mustangs have ruled Ontario University Athletics men’s squash. They will look to win a 26th consecutive title when they host the OUA championships on Saturday (Feb. 14).

The Queen’s Gaels, McGill Redmen and McMaster Marauders all look to unseat the Mustangs. The University Squash Club of McGill first presented the Harald Martin Trophy in 1951, emblematic of OUA men’s squash supremacy. The Redmen won the trophy the first seven years of its existence, but have not hoisted the hardware since 1968-69. Queen’s and McMaster have never won the OUA men’s squash championship.

Queen’s will engage the host Mustangs in one semi-final. Returning 2007-08 First Team All-Stars Chris Hanebury (Ajax, Ont.) and Iain Crozier (Winnipeg) helped lead Western to a 6-0 record in the regular season and its top seed at the OUA championship. The Mustangs swept Queen’s 6-0 in the OUA crossovers on Jan. 24, and have lost only two matches the entire season.

The Gaels are led by third-year player Paul Gartinburg (Toronto) who won four of his six matches in 2008-09, and key rookie Amr Hamour (Niagara Falls), who was also 4-2 this season. Second-year player Alex Ford (London) was Queen’s No. 1-ranked player during the crossover part of the OUA schedule. Queen’s had a 4-2 record during the regular season.

McMaster and McGill will battle in the other semi-final. The Marauders have an international flavour to their ranks. No. 1-ranked player Ahmed Shohayeb (Alexandria, Egypt) is a returning 2007-08 Second Team All-Star, while David Rossouw (Australia) has a 3-3 record having never played competitive squash prior to this season. McMaster has a 4-2 record entering play on Friday.

The Redmen are led by returning 2007-08 First Team All-Star Ben Marien (Westmount, Que.). McGill had a 4-2 record in the regular season, including a 6-0 sweep of the Marauders in t he OUA crossover on Jan. 25.

Queen’s is the defending women’s champion after ending the two-year title reign of the Mustangs in last year’s OUA championship, but will not be in London to defend its title following a 1-3 record in the 2008-09 regular season. Western, McMaster, McGill and the Toronto Varsity Blues will vie for this year’s women’s championship.

Toronto will be making its 10th consecutive appearance in the OUA finals following a perfect 4-0 record in the regular season. The Varsity Blues will face the Marauders in one semi-final in a rematch of the OUA sectional last Nov. 15 won by Toronto 5-1. The Varsity Blues are led by long-time captain Karlene Headley-Cooper (Mississauga).

The Marauders finished the regular season with a 2-2 record. McMaster’s Kristina Taylor (Ile Perrot, Que.) and Sunayna Gupta (Toronto) are returning 2007-08 First and Second Team All-Stars, respectively.

The other semi-final will be contested between host Western and the McGill Martlets. Stephanie Edmison (Toronto) has led the charge for the Mustangs, and has experience with the Canadian national team. Heather Lamb (Calgary) and Rachael Forgeron (St. Catharines) are also top players, while rookie Kathleen Horman (Toronto) has been a great addition to Western, which went 3-1 in the regular season, including a 6-0 triumph over McGill in the crossover.

The Martlets went 2-2 and are led by returning 2007-08 OUA First Team All-Star Carly Hong (Toronto).

The women’s champion is awarded a Squash Plaque donated in 1979 by York University in memory of Lillian D’Urzo.