I used to get excited about the Nationals. I don't really anymore and this is why.
When I first got back into squash, in 2004, the Nationals came to Vancouver and I truly felt an excitement within the local community. I was lucky enough to be able to be involved (my father and I designed the event logo and publication) and , as it turns out, I was even more lucky to be able to play.
That year the organizing committee opted to host a companion event which meant that players from all over the country, at all levels, were invited to come together and celebrate the game of Canadian squash. I was a low B player and got creamed but I saw some of the most amazing players play and I really got inspired. I saw (and played on!) the glass court! I cheered on my friends and lent Jonathon Power a bandana. I met players from all over the country which was probably the best part of the event.
In 2005 we went to Toronto for the first time and while the games were spread out across the city centre there was still a sense of community. Again there was a companion event so I played safe in the knowledge that I was going to be matched against a comparable player. I was a high B player that year and even with a Canadian champion coaching me I got creamed again. But it was okay because I was hanging out with my squash buddies and we were ALL playing.
In 2006 the Nationals were held in Toronto again. Hmmm. I remember thinking that I didn't really want to go to TO again but I went and, to be honest, I went because there was a companion event and I wanted to see if I had improved at a national level.
To make a long story short: In 2007 The Glencoe Club decided not to include a companion event and I truly believe that they made a mistake. Their argument (if I remember correctly) was that they wanted to "showcase the best squash that Canada has to offer". What they forgot was WHO they were showcasing it to. It's the new players that need to see it, that will be inspired by it. These new players may one day be playing "the best squash that Canada has to offer" but even if they don't they will remember seeing it and it will
This year the committee at White Oaks, Niagara, have made a concession and included "A's" in the draw, along with open and age categories. I hope it's a sign of things to come and that next year's host will consider reinstating the companion event. It will help squash.
Next week: Everyone wins when losers ref.