BY SCOTT HADDOW
Mike McCue eats, sleeps and breathes squash.
The 12-year-old Sudbury native has been rocketing up the Ontario Squash rankings over the last two years and is destined to become one of the best amateur squash players from the Nickel City in quite some time.
McCue is currently ranked eighth in the Under-13 Ontario Juniors division.
There isn't another Greater Sudbury junior in the rankings, let alone actually playing competitive squash.
Recently, the McLeod Public School student went to the Canadian Squash Open tournament to test his skills. He won his first match, but lost to the first seed in the second round. In the consolation quarter-final, McCue lost a hard-fought contest to the number three seed.
McCue is heading to the United States Open Tournament this week, and hopes his dedication to the sport will pay big dividends now, and down the road.
"These tournaments are more for experience," said McCue. "The US Open will have kids competing from all over the world, so that will be great. I have never played in the US Open before. I am hoping to win two matches. I don't think I will become a pro player, but I would like to be in the Top 3, for my age group, before I am 19. I would also like to earn a scholarship. Squash is big with the Ivy League schools, so it's not out of the question for me in
the future. It would be hard though."
Landing a scholarship is attainable as McCue has blended athletics and academics perfectly.
"I am in Grade 8 and pretty much a straight A student," said McCue. "I skipped Grade 1. If I do bad in school, than it's no more squash. Good time management is how I keep everything in order and balanced."
The game came easily for the squash lover.
When he was eight, McCue started playing with his father and just progressed from there.
"The game came naturally to me," he said. "I got serious about the sport in 2003."
McCue prides himself on being a tough opponent.
"My best strengths are the ability to stay one step ahead of the rally and my foot work and racquet skills," said McCue. "It's hard to hit a clean winner by me. I can hit most balls. Opponents have to wait for me to make a mistake."
McCue's only competition in Sudbury comes from adults, which can be difficult and rewarding.
"It's awkward playing against men because they can hit the ball so fast," he said. "I am starting to keep up with them though. I learn to watch the ball more because it's just moving so fast. I have no competition my age here, so I leave with my family for tournaments every three weeks. It's a disadvantage, but it means I just have to do more and want it more than kids from down south. I am not intimidated at all by kids from southern Ontario.
When we get on the court, it's just me and them and who wants it more."