Mac hopes to convert squash Bronze to Gold

McMaster Marauders look to improve upon last season’s bronze medal finish when the Ontario University Athletics men’s and women’s squash championships conclude this weekend at the University of Toronto.

The Marauders young squad has a lot to prove. Led by 2010-11 Rookie of the Year Patrick Morkus (Barrie), the Marauders return the majority of the team and will look to make a statement this weekend. Playing in Pool B they will have to get past the Brock Badgers and Queen’s Gaels. The Gaels were silver medalists last year and finished in third place at the Canadian Jesters University Squash Finals held last weekend. The Badgers return to OUA squash this season.

Despite losing a key member of their team, the Western Mustangs men’s squash team can’t be taken lightly. Western, in Pool A, has been an OUA squash dynasty, having won the men’s title every year since 1983.

Western will play this year without 2010-11 most valuable player Kimesh Chetty but return all-stars Brian Hong (Toronto) and Ryan Herden (Vancouver) in pursuit of a 29th consecutive OUA squash title.

Though they lost to the Mustangs at the Jesters, the Varsity Blues will be looking to use home court advantage this weekend. Fifth-year veteran Adrian Pond (Toronto) has been dominant this season, and will look to culminate his university squash career with an OUA title.

The Waterloo Warriors round out Pool A. The Warriors finished fifth last year and will lean heavily on returning OUA all-star Pranav Sharma (Chandigarh, India) to improve their performance.

On the women’s side, Pool A will prove to be tough competition for Waterloo. They’ll be pitted against Western and Queen’s, squash powerhouses that have traded the championship title since 2006.

The Western Mustangs will be looking to defend their OUA squash title, and will lean on two-time OUA all-star Samantha Hennings (Georgetown) to ensure they repeat as champions.

The Queen’s Gaels narrowly missed the podium last year, but based on their recent second-place result at the Jester’s University Squash Championship they will be contenders in Toronto this weekend.

Rounding out Pool A is the Waterloo Warriors. Despite a fifth place finish at last year’s championship, the Warriors boast sisters Micaala and Natasha Seth (Fergus), who took home last year’s MVP and rookie honours. The Waterloo squad could have what it takes to cause an upset in Pool A.

Pool B is comprised of McMaster, Brock and host Toronto.

The Varsity Blues took home the silver medal last year. Like the men, the Toronto women will be hoping that a home court advantage can give them an edge over their competitors. Head Coach Dave Cooper earned Women’s Coach of the Year in 2011, and will be the guiding force behind a Blues’ championship performance.

The McMaster Marauders squeaked onto the podium last year, after a tie-breaking procedure ranked them over Queen’s. The Marauders will likely feel the absence of graduating senior Kristina Taylor (Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que.), a four-time OUA all-star. Despite an obvious hole in the roster, the Marauders should make waves at the OUA Championship.

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