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Branksome Hall News

Rallying to Win: Grade 9 Student Champion of Ontario Junior Squash Open

The Branksome Hall Highlanders give it their all in every sport they take part in, and for some Highlanders, their dedication to their sport extends far beyond Branksome. Grade 9 student and squash player Zoe’s efforts have paid off in a big way this year!
From March 31 to April 2, 2023, Zoe and four of her peers competed in the Ontario Squash Junior Open Championships, the province’s biggest squash competition of the year. Zoe has been playing for more than half her life, and speaks highly of the sport. “I have been playing squash for seven years and I love the complexity of the game, where the intellectual aspect is equally as important as physical strength,” she noted when asked what she loves most about the sport.

That weekend, Zoe played in four matches, with her rating reflecting her remarkable skill. But Zoe does not just play squash in the hopes of winning. She explains that there is much more to gain from these competitions: “I love the thrill of tournaments, where players from all over Canada and often other countries come to play and I am able to meet and spend time with other high-level players. These events motivate me to continue training and work harder, regardless of my result!” For Zoe, it’s the camaraderie and growth that comes with the sport of squash that make it so special.

In the final match to determine the overall winner, Zoe played against another incredible squash player with a rating as impressive as hers. Zoe gave this match her all, and after three intense matches was named champion of the GU15 category in the 2023 Ontario Squash Junior Open Championships. “Winning the tournament allowed me to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing that my hard work in the last few months had paid off,” Zoe shared.

“I was so proud to represent Branksome along with several teammates, and the support we carried for each other was immense. From watching and cheering for each other during our matches, to simply spending time together as a group, I was so appreciative of the team spirit that we brought to the tournament. As a new student at Branksome, I had only started on the squash team this past term, but I immediately felt welcomed and knew I had made the right choice in joining Branksome’s inclusive community. I was able to create friendships outside my own grade that carried beyond our team practice. Huge congrats to other members of the Branksome squash team; Esme, Violet and Rylan, who also played well and won some challenging matches in the tournament, as well as Olivia who placed 3rd in GU15 and won the annual Most Improved Player award,” Zoe said, showing her commendable team spirit and good sportsmanship. Zoe and Olivia are now preparing to compete in the 2023 Canadian Junior Closed Championships, where they will play against some of the best young squash players from around the country. The two athletes will also be pairing up to compete in the Ontario Junior Doubles Tournament in May.

Although the squash season at Branksome is over and the Highlanders have stored their rackets until winter, Zoe offers a word of advice to students interested in taking up the sport in the future: “It's never too late to start playing and learning. If you want to get into squash, go for it. Personally, my passion for the sport has inspired me and although at times it can be tough to balance my workload as a student athlete, my experiences have allowed me to develop my time management skills, as well as my capacity for a busy schedule and heavy workload.”  

Congratulations to Zoe, Olivia, Esme, Violet and Rylan on your incredible accomplishments at the 2023 Ontario Squash Junior Open Championships. The Branksome Hall community cannot wait to hear about your future squash endeavours.
We wish to acknowledge this land on which Branksome operates. For thousands of years, it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today, this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work and go to school on this land.

Setting the new standard for girls' education everywhere takes collective action. From all of us.