Canada Games

Quebec squash player, 13, shoots to rise in rankings

The Canadian Press
2/17/2011 4:44:45 PM
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HALIFAX -- Never mind growing up tall and willowy.

Squash player Chloe Chemtob, 13, a member of Quebec's Canada Winter Games contingent, says it's fine to stay little and lightning fast.

"Most of the pros aren't too tall because size limits their movement," says Chemtob, who's just under five feet tall.

"I hope to be short ... or medium."

During the competition in Halifax, the player from Montreal showed some flashes of the talent and speed that has her ranked second in the U.S. national rankings for players under-15.

Her 2010 record includes a third-place finish in the under-15 category of the U.S. Junior Open, second-place finishes in German and Dutch open tournaments for under-13 players, as well as a win in the 2010 Italian Junior Open in the under-15 group. She also placed second in the Canadian Open under-15 tournament in December.

Chemtob said her goal is to become the top-ranked under-15 player in the world.

In Halifax, Chemtob was one of four Quebec teammates playing team squash in the round-robin tournament, where each province attempts to win three of four matches to advance. The Quebec squad played Thursday for the bronze medal against Alberta, but lost all four matches.

During her matches, Chemtob frequently showed a form that pushed players four years older and six inches taller to the limit.

Against British Columbia, she forced Nicole Bunyan, the seventh-ranked under-19 player in Canada, to a hard-fought fifth game before succumbing by two points to the 17-year-old.

Chemtob said she prefers playing older, bigger players.

"I don't get nervous. Usually they're the ones getting nervous because it's kind of a big deal to lose to someone half your size," she said with a slight smile.

But she wasn't always happy with her play at the Canada Games, feeling she lapsed occasionally in a game she describes as "physical chess."

"I know I could have played better but I got a little nervous. Today wasn't my day, I didn't play my best," she said, after losing to Bunyan.

"Everyone has ups and downs, and today was a down."

Few Canadian juniors have received better preparation for the possibility of playing professionally.

Her father, Gilles Chemtob, 51, says his daughter began hitting shots at seven years old.

A few years later, Yvon Provencal, the Canadian national team coach, identified her talent after watching her play at a club.

The family moved to Orlando, Fla., where Chemtob is trained by David Palmer, the former top player in the world. She is learning the tactics and technique of a sport that requires constant and instant strategizing.

During her matches in Halifax, Chemtob often moved to control the centre of the court, where she calmly placed long shots into difficult corner positions.

"Her strength is her power, her technique is amazing and at 13-years-old she's a very strong player physically and mentally," said Quebec team manager Anne-Christine Lajoie.

Gilles Chemtob, who has also moved his medical practice to Florida, said he's conscious of the risks of ruining the fun of the game for his daughter.

"I tell her it's a positive experience, a self-challenging experience. It's not about the winning or losing. It's how well you're playing and how you're challenging yourself," he said.

"Bring on the competition and do as well as you can."

If she perseveres in the game and remains in the top five, a professional career is possible, her father said.

Chloe said she'll first play on a college team and then examine her options.

"I'd like to be a doctor, too," she said.

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