Emma Jinks of Stratford to play for Canada at world junior championship
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.
Emma Jinks works on her serve during Monday’s practice session at The Spa Total Fitness Centre in Charlottetown.