NANAIMO — The biggest tournament of the local squash season is happening this weekend.
Friday to Sunday is the 2019 Trend Diesel Open at the Nanaimo Squash Club, with nearly 80 competitors signed up.
All four courts at the Wallace Street location will be in use with players gathering from in and around Nanaimo according to club member Robin Gauvin.
"It draws people from Vancouver, Victoria, and the north Island, and sometimes we even have people from a bit further in the country," said Gauvin.
The local club was established in 1981 and sits at about 150 members from as young as 5-years-old to players in their 70's.
There will be an Open Division, Women's Division, and some other divisions that encompass different age brackets.
Twin brothers Richard and Andrew Birks will be the favourites,
Richard is the Nanaimo Club Pro and does lots of local coaching.
The brothers faced off in both the 2017 and 2018 Open finals with Andrew winning last year and Richard taking the title the year before.
Melinda Morbin is a local player expected to show well on the women's side.
Gauvin says the weekend is a lot of fun with most people opting to spend most of their time at the club.
She says there's a social atmosphere with a lounge and bar attached to the club for competitors and friends to hang out before and after games.
The heart of the squash season is January, February, and March but Gauvin says there are other smaller events on the calendar throughout the year.
Membership is solid at the youth level and strong for older adults, but the Nanaimo Squash Club is trying to encourage more people in their late teens and twenties to join.
There's a special rate for example for VIU students to sign up as members.
Gauvin hopes more people will come out and try squash, adding that the only equipment required is non-marking shoes and a racquet.
More information about the 2019 Trend Diesel Open is available on facebook or at the club website.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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