NEW AD­VEN­TURE

Emma Jinks of Strat­ford to play for Canada at world ju­nior cham­pi­onship

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Emma Jinks be­gins her jour­ney to the World Ju­nior Squash Cham­pi­onship today.

The 17-year-old Strat­ford na­tive leaves for Bri­tish Columbia where she will join the other three girls that form Team Canada. They will train and do some team-bond­ing ac­tiv­i­ties for a few days be­fore leav­ing for Tau­ranga, New Zealand.

Be­fore team play, Jinks will first com­pete in the in­di­vid­ual cham­pi­onship against 87 play­ers from 22 coun­tries around the world.

“I feel so for­tu­nate to have that op­por­tu­nity,” said Jinks, who is thank­ful for all the sup­port from her fam­ily and the Squash P.E.I. com­mu­nity, who have helped her con­tin­u­ally im­prove.

“It’s go­ing to be such an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. I am go­ing to meet a bunch of peo­ple and play amaz­ing squash.”

Her first match will be July 20 against Malaysian Aifa As­man.

Vet­eran coach John Power said it is the first time in 40 years any­one from At­lantic Canada has been part of a na­tional team.

“I can say un­equiv­o­cally, men’s, women’s, boys and girls, there’s never been any­body east of Mon­treal that had a smell of mak­ing this team,” he said.

“It’s quite an ac­com­plish­ment.”

Jinks had her fi­nal train­ing ses­sion in Char­lot­te­town with Power on Mon­day.

She smashed the ball back and forth off the wall with ease, barely mov­ing as she worked on her fore­hand and back­hand.

Power smiled when asked about his young pupil’s work ethic.

“You can prac­tise this sport to a very high level by your­self. The ball comes back,” he said out­side the court at The Spa To­tal Fitness Cen­tre in Char­lot­te­town. “You can get in there and spend hours by your­self hon­ing your skills and, ob­vi­ously, Emma has spent a good deal of time by her­self hit­ting balls or with her fam­ily or with the rest of the gang here on P.E.I.”

Jinks is no stranger to per­form­ing well on the squash court.

She’s a four-time na­tional cham­pion (un­der-13, -15, -17 and -19), has com­peted in the se­nior men’s top divi­sion in the Mar­itimes for a cou­ple of years and has had suc­cess at in­ter­na­tional open events.

Jinks said she has been play­ing the sport since “I could hold the racket.”

She played with fam­ily and friends and al­ways wanted to get bet­ter.

Jinks worked hard to bank points at var­i­ous events dur­ing the past year to make the na­tional team for the un­der-19 worlds while be­ing 16 a cou­ple months ago.

“When I heard about worlds, and that it was in New Zealand, and that I could ac­tu­ally make the team, I started get­ting so ex­cited for it,” she said.

“I had to make the team.” She so­lid­i­fied her spot on the team by win­ning the un­der-19 na­tional cham­pi­onship in April.

“Af­ter I (se­cured) my spot, it was a re­lief,” said Jinks, who is the top-ranked fe­male ju­nior player for Canada.

“I want to be able to per­form well for my team and rep­re­sent Canada as best as I can,” she said. “If I win, that’s awe­some, but if I lose at least I know I have done all I can.”

Jinks has done her part in prepa­ra­tion for the event.

She has in­creased her train­ing to two ses­sions a day on the court, worked in the gym with trainer Kris MacPhee and on the men­tal side of the game with sports psy­chol­o­gist Tara Costello.

Jinks, who is en­ter­ing Grade 12 at Char­lot­te­town Ru­ral High School in Septem­ber, said she is con­sid­er­ing tak­ing a gap year af­ter grad­u­a­tion to travel and com­pete in some squash events, but she still wants to play for P.E.I. at the 2019 Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta.

Power said there are many at­tributes that make Jinks a great squash player. He said she’s a good ath­lete with good me­chan­ics and good hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Emma Jinks works on her serve dur­ing Mon­day’s prac­tice ses­sion at The Spa To­tal Fitness Cen­tre in Char­lot­te­town.

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