With nearly half of Team B.C.’s squash roster for the Canada Winter Games coming from the Cedar Hill Squash Club, it’s no surprise the club’s coach, Cedar Hill pro Ben Uliana, is going too.
“It’s been a long four to six years with these players, I’m very proud of them,” Uliana said. “To have five of the (province’s) 10 players named from our club, it just shows how much hard work they’ve done.”
Cedar Hill is represented for both age brackets at the Games, U19 and U17. Grace Thomas, a 16-year-old St. Michaels University School student, could compete at the U17 girls level but will instead represent B.C. at the U19 level, pitting the Grade 11 student against top NCAA players from other provinces.
Saanich resident Nicolas Vincent will compete on the (U17) boys side while Oak Bay’s Gavin Maxwell, a student at St. Andrew’s secondary, will play at the U19 level. Cedar Hill’s Matthew Henderson is the designated spare for the U19 boys.
“It’s definitely exciting to finally get to the Games, the process for this started almost four years ago,” Thomas said.
As a 13-year-old, Thomas was named to a long list and since then she’s won provincials (she was second in 2014) for her age group. Meanwhile the long list was whittled down, until finally in December she was named to Team B.C. for the Winter Games, which began Friday in Prince George.
The Games’ squash events start Feb. 22 and wrap up March 1. The Winter Games squash format has a team event for the U17 athletes while the U19 athletes compete for their province and individually.