Ottawa sailor squashes national challengers

Not all sport competitions take place on a field, rink, or pitch.

Some take place in a closed room, where the panting of players is drowned out only by rally of rackets and the smack of a ball.

This little known competitive sport is one of many played by elite Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) athletes. One such player is LS Kyle Weatherby, who recently won the Canadian Armed Forces Squash Nationals in the Under 30 division at CFB Borden, going up against the best CAF players across the country in team and singles events.

“It was a great experience,” says LS Weatherby, a radar technician in HMCS Ottawa. “I love the game, so putting my skills to the test against nationally skilled squash players was an excellent opportunity.”

LS Weatherby got into the fast-paced game while visiting his father in Halifax during a course in 2008.

“He used to play a lot, and when I came to see him he got me playing too. I played a few people on the east coast and when I came back here I just kept playing and playing.”

He stuck with the game out of a love for its fast paced, quick thinking nature.

“You have to be very fit, physically and mentally,” he says. “The only way to excel is to be at the top of your game in all aspects. It’s a real challenge.”

The only way to improve one’s skill at squash is to play the game, he says. His training regimen before nationals had him playing nearly every day, as well as running whenever possible.

“Fitness is important because in squash you’re running around so much, you have to be able to push yourself for the whole match. Tactics and skill are important, but if you’re tired and worn out, it’s very difficult to win.”

The CAF Squash Nationals, held May 4 to 10, saw five regions (Pacific, Atlantic, Prairie, Ontario, and Quebec) send their best nine players to compete against each other. The two main categories were Team, which tally the wins for a region’s players, and Individual, which had players competing within their age groups.

LS Weatherby took home the top spot for the Under 30 category.

“It was a really tough go,” he says. “There was always that uncertainty of whether or not I’d win, but I think that helped me improve my game in the long run.”
The last match really tested his mettle, pitting him against an opponent he played earlier in the competition.

“I’d only lost one match during the team event, and it was to the player I faced in the final,” he says. “When he beat me the first time I focused on what I did wrong in that match, and trained during the tournament to overcome that weakness.”

With no big competitions on the horizon, LS Weatherby plans to continue playing the game he loves so much.

“I always just want to get a little bit better, and a little bit better than that,” he says. “I’ll just be playing and focusing on becoming as good as I can be.”

-Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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