This weekend, Revelstoke’s junior squash team will be facing one of their biggest tests yet when they head to the Pacific Northwest Junior Open in Victoria.
There, they’ll compete against the best young squash players from across western Canada, Oregon and Washington.
“It’s the biggest junior tournament on the west coast,” said Kevin Dorrius, the coach of Revelstoke junior squash team.
For Dorrius, it will be another chance to see how the local youth have progressed against the best young players in B.C.
“Essentially, on a match-by-match basis, it’s nice to see kids play kids they have in the past and get more and more competitive each time they play them,” he said.
I spoke to Dorrius at the start of a youth practice where nine kids played a game of tag where the objective was to either keep a hand on the wall or stay on of the lines on the court. They were expected to keep moving in order to improve their footwork around the court.
The Revelstoke junior team has come a long way in recent years, with a few cracking the top 10 in their age group in B.C.. Kevin’s daughter Julia is ranked eighth in the U15 age group, and her sister Sophie is ranked sixth in U13. On the boys side, Austin DesMazes is ranked ninth in U13 and Ryan Howe has cracked the top 10 in U11.
Notably, they are the only highly-ranked players from the B.C. Interior.
The junior program at the Revelstoke Racquet Den began seven years ago when Dorrius started playing with his daughters.
“Before long we had a full program with the 20-25 kids we have now,” he said. “It essentially started with me wanting to play squash with my daughters.”
As the program grew, Dorrius began taking them to tournaments. At first, they got blown out playing against a significantly higher level of competition. Over time, they’ve gotten better, to the point its common to get reports from the club touting their successes.
“We still have some competitive gap between our players and the elite in the province,” he said. “When we go down to the coast we’re not getting beaten like we used to, and in some case we’re doing the beatings.”
The group is coached by several club members. During my visit, Brad Christie was leading the group with Dorrius. Other club members who have helped out include Stuart Smith, Steve Scott and Norm Tenant.
The program’s big improvement came when Penticton squash pro Adam Terheege came to help out. Dorrius said his contribution was huge.
“I got the kids to a certain level but having Adam to really push them, this past summer — it’s been a huge difference in the performance of the group,” he said.
Revelstoke’s junior squash program was one of the first in the Interior and more are being set up. At a recent junior tournament at the Racquet Den, the Revelstoke players were the cream of the crop.
Dorrius wants to see how his team stacks up when they head to Victoria.
“We’re not ready to challenge for the number one spots in the province but we’re getting closer and closer every year,” he said.