(leg, hip?) INJURY RETIREMENT AGAINST BERG OPENS THE DOOR
|Ryding wins his first Canadian Title
in five years. Photo © 2004 Fritz Borchert
days of intense squash action at Vancouver’s Hollyburn Country
Club it was time to crown Canada’s 2004 National champions. All week long
I’ve been harping on Viktor Berg and Runa Reta as the two players to watch
and the two players who had the best chance to upset. Well low and behold
Friday’s semi-final action both came through in spades. Well, sorta kinda,
SEMIS: WOMEN’S UPSETs, ANTICLIMATIC MEN’S
much anticipated showdown between Berg and Jonathon Power turned out to
be a none event. Heading in Berg was pumped telling Squash Canada
to win. I have a game plan but I know I’m in tough. I’ve had a very good
tournament so far so I have some confidence. Plus I’m at home and I feel
With the score
tied 12-12 in the first Power shook hands and retired.
A leg injury
was the reported cause but my spies tell me it’s JP’s hip. He apparently
hurt it in an exhibition match prior to the start of the event and despite
physio couldn’t summon the magic. The "Maestro’s" bid for a
sixth consecutive title came to an end and he was disappointed to say
He said "I
always enjoy playing the Nationals because I get to see a lot of the people
I grew up playing with and who guided me through my career. Getting here
I had a tough overseas trip and basically spent two days sitting in a
plane and a few muscles tightened up"
In the other
men’s semi-final it was number two against three, Graham Ryding versus
Shahier Razik. Graham refused to be denied on this day and proved the
better player taking his respective place in Saturday’s final.
On the women’s
side, in the evening’s first semi-final, a lady I hadn’t said boo about
all week continued taking care of business. Winnipeg’s Alana Miller seeded
in the third slot unmercilessly took care of the defending champion Marnie
Baizley in three straight.(9-4, 9-5, 9-5) Miller was delighted and somewhat
surprised to have made the final. The 23 year old commented after saying
"This was totally unexpected, I had never beaten her before. We had
a close one in March so I knew it was possible plus my short game was
Well that left
the match-up I wished I could of been front and centre for.
Runa Reta against
Melanie Jans. A battle of experience versus youth. When I
mentioned to Tournament Co-chair and Hollyburn pro Jeff Boag I was pickin
Reta he told me "No way". He said Jans recently destroyed her
in an exhibition earlier in the week. Well Jeff buddy this match wasn’t
exhibition, it was for real. Jans took the first but after that it was
all Reta. Surrendering a grand total of only five points in the next three
games Reta took this match with style. (4-9, 9-2, 9-1, 9-2) She said
the week I just felt more and more comfortable on the glass court. Tonight
dictated the tempo of the game and I kept the ball tight and deep. I made
sure she didn’t slow the pace down."
Based on this
performance I have no doubt who will be slipping on a pair of wooden shoes
later this year and representing Canada at the Women’s World Team Championships.
FINALS: ALANA BUILDS ON PSYCHOLOGICAL ADVANTAGE
first the women. Alana Miller versus Runa Reta. A battle of the 23 year
olds and a junior rivalry reborn. The pair had squared off numerous times
in the past with Miller usually leaving with the victory. Perhaps this
played on Reta’s psyche? Prior to the match Reta was questioned about
this and replied "Alana usually beat me in the big matches so I know
she’ll be ready."
Miller was indeed
ready. In an evenly contested affair she once again won "the big
match" and claimed her first Canadian National crown. (8-10, 9-6,
10-8, 10-9) As the scoreline indicates this one could of gone either way.
being down 2-8 in the fourth game Reta rallied to grab a 9-8 lead and
was a point away from forcing a fifth and deciding game. Miller said after
"I just felt that if Runa won that fourth game she would have the
momentum in the fifth. I just made up my mind that I would fight for every
shot. It was a very intense match and I was a bit surprised she came back
like that but she’s always been a fighter."
Now to the men.
Let’s start off with a trivia question. Who was the last Canadian men’s
champion other than Jonathon Power and what year did this occur?….hmm….
Graham Ryding in 1998 and actually he was the winner in 97 as well. Since
then he’s always finished second. On the other hand, Viktor Berg’s best
finish was 4th in 2000 so both players were hungry.
Well here we
go and as much as I’d like to report that an epic battle ensued the truth
is that Ryding dominated this encounter. He wrapped things up and claimed
third title with an easy 15-2, 15-12, 15-2 victory. Post match he commented
"I was really hoping to get my shot at Jonathon because I played
week. Suddenly the pressure was all on me today because I was expected
win. I didn’t play as aggressively as I would have liked." The straight
games victory for Ryding tells me he played exactly the way he needed
play to win and quite frankly it’s about time and also well deserved.
great tournament for Berg albeit aided somewhat by Power’s injury. I’m
he’s pleased to have made it to the final despite the result and can draw
from this experience in future encounters.
So there you have it. Ryding and Miller. Canada’s 2004
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