The thirteenth annual “Battle of the Border” saw Team Canada capture its first title in seven years and first in the new Team Canada vs. Team USA format.
Although the main focus was on the ‘Battle’ on the Sunday, the weekend consisted of multiple different sessions as the coaches balance creating teamwork within their own team and developing friendships with the opposing teams, as well as some fun evening activities and a trip to the Niagara Falls on Saturday evening.
With the National Team programming for US Squash continuing to grow, the Battle of the Border remains one of the focal points as it best prepares players for the World Junior Championships, which uses the same format of four person teams. This year was the second year that Team Canada participated, a graduation from Team Ontario in years gone by, and Team USA knew they would have to be at their best to beat a well prepared Canadian team. The “Battle of the Border” was initially founded as a Team Ontario vs. Team USA format in 2004 by U.S.-based Bryan Patterson and the late Mark Sachvie.
“The Battle of the Border allows the two countries’ best junior players in the U13, U15 and U17 age groups to gain invaluable international experience—they learn how to represent their country, which is a proud yet nerve wracking experience and gives them a better understanding of what it takes to compete as a team at the highest level, ” said Rich Wade, US Squash Director of National Teams.
With four players in each age group, per gender, the first team to thirteen wins out of a possible twenty four would take home the trophy. As predicted nearly every match was closely fought with ten out of the twenty-four matches going to five games. Unfortunately for Team USA, six out of those five gamers went to Team Canada, who were victorious in a nail-biting 13-11 finish. It was appropriate that Akasham Rajagopaul, long-time student of Sachvie and playing at his home club, was the thirteenth win and brought the trophy back to Canada.
“Myself and the coaches couldn’t be more proud of the Team USA players, ” Wade said. “We asked them to play with respect both for themselves, their opponents and how we reacted whether in victory or defeat was going to be the true test of our character. A number of matches could have gone our way that didn’t with match balls in a few matches that we lost, but I believe this will provide healthy competition moving forward and we will definitely be coming back to win next year! Congratulations to Team Canada and their coaches, this was a much deserved victory.”
The Team USA delegation was led by U.S. Regional Coaches Luke Butterworth, Christina Brownell, Attila Agh, Henry Clutsam and Tom Pashley.
Team USA Roster:
Joey Raskin Lantos