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Hard work pays off for squash team
Inuvik players earn first and third place in men's A division in Yellowknife tourney

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, June 7, 2012

When a team of Inuvik squash players travelled to Yellowknife last weekend to compete in the territorial squash championships, captain Hani Ibrahim Dangoria was happy just to be travelling with a full team. When the team returned Monday with two medals in the men's A division, the long-time squash enthusiast was ecstatic.

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Brandon Johnston plays a ball off the wall at the Yellowknife Racquet Club last weekend. - photos courtesy of Jeff Hipfner and the Yellowknife Racquet Club

"For the first time a team has travelled from Inuvik, that is unbelievable," said Dangoria.

There were players from all over Canada, including Ottawa and Calgary, at the tournament which ran from May 28 to June 3 at the Racquet Club in Yellowknife, said Dangoria.

"It was an awesome tournament. This is my third tournament, and this one was very well-organized and was very social," he said.

Dangoria won first place in the men's A division at the tournament, while his teammate Brandon Johnston came in third place in the same category.

Also travelling with the team were Inuvik players Greg Connell and Chris Ziegler.

"For me, it was the first time I had seen professional-level squash players," said Johnston. "It was pretty cool to see."

"The tournament was fantastic, it was very well-organized, from picking us up from the airport to looking after us and making sure we were comfortable. It was great," he said.

There were four divisions in the tournament, with A division being the highest. There were also open and exhibition groups where elite and professional players faced off.

More than winning, Dangoria was happy Inuvik was able to send a full team to the tournament.

"The most important thing for me was that this was the first time Inuvik went with a full crew," he said.

The Inuvik squad was able to go because of special funding given to them by the Beaufort Delta Recreation Association, said Dangoria.

"They funded this trip, and we appreciate that so, so much," he said.

Dangoria has been playing squash in Inuvik since moving to town in 2010, and has been competing in squash tournaments since 2003. He has taken over as leader of the Inuvik squash league, helping organize players and coach those who would like coaching.

The four players who travelled to the territorial competition were in for a gruelling weekend, said Dangoria. All the teammates had their first games within hours of stepping off the plane Friday, and then played the remaining three games of round-robin Saturday.

"It was, pretty much, play a game, go back to the hotel and try to rest, and then play again," he said.

The finals were held Sunday, where Dangoria managed to beat opponent Miles Harris in four games.

"I didn't expect that," said Dangoria. "He is a very good player, he has very good ball control."

Johnston was also impressed by the calibre of his opponents in the tournament.

"You kind of get used to the style of play that people have here, so to go play somebody new kind of keeps you on your toes," he said.

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