Whistler tennis standout Josh MacNeil is taking advantage of some top-level coaching and training partners down in Florida and recently won his first clay-court tournament.
MacNeil is working under the tutelage of Milos Pospisil, father of Canadian Davis Cup team member Vasek Pospisil, in Bradenton, Fla., alongside two high-ranked youth players from the Czech Republic.
MacNeil had little trouble taking first place in the U18 boys’ singles division of a U.S. Tennis Association Super Series tournament in Englewood, Fla., on the weekend, taking all of his matches in straight sets.
MacNeil topped the tournament’s No. 2 seed 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals, then earned the victory by defeating No. 1 seed James Cramer by scores of 6-0 and 6-2 in the final. It was his first appearance on clay.
“Joshua is working very hard and improving very fast,” said Pospisil. “I am very happy for him. We train four hours a day and the hard work paid off.”
The Whistler native is back in action this weekend in Bradenton, looking for more success in a tournament hosted at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy that wraps up on Monday (Jan. 21).
Junior skiers solid
Six members of the Whistler Freeride Club secured strong, early-season results on Saturday (Jan. 12) at Washington’s Crystal Mountain, which hosted the Pacific Northwest’s first regional event of the season.
Cooper Bathgate recorded the highest score of all competitors while taking top spot in the boys’ 12 to 14 division. He shared the podium with clubmate Mitchell Long, who finished third, while Jackson Bathgate finished sixth in the age group.
Carlene Loughlin netted the event’s third-best score to capture a victory in the girls’ 15 to 18 division. In the boys’ group, Liam Peiffer placed third and took home an award for Best Line. Tom Peiffer had a good run in the works with a huge air in the top section, but was unable to finish cleanly.
“The venue was very steep, technical and burly. The visibility was good, but the snow conditions were variable and unpredictable,” said Whistler Freeride coach Jen Ashton in a release. “It was amazing to see such great results from the kids. It was a challenging venue and they stepped up and performed incredibly well.
“We’re really looking forward to the rest of the competition season.”
The Crystal Mountain event was a bit of a warm-up competition for athletes ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Open Junior Freeskiing Championship, which runs until Saturday (Jan. 19) at Red Mountain. The Whistler club will be sending a larger contingent of athletes to the event.
Top 20 at worlds for Spencer
Pemberton’s Jenna Spencer finished 17th in women’s competition at the FIL Junior Luge World Championships taking place Tuesday (Jan. 15) at Park City, Utah.
Spencer ranked 18th after the first of two runs, but had the 15th-best time in the second run to move up one position in the rankings. She finished with a combined time that was 1.316 seconds back of American winner Emily Sweeney.
The event saw Spencer sliding at a higher age group than usual, as she normally competes in the youth (U18) class.
Spencer currently sits second in the youth women’s standings on the Junior World Cup tour after top-four finishes in each of the first two races. The series resumes next week in Calgary, with Spencer scheduled to race on Jan. 24.
Muzzillo, Tanaka quickest in KVRS
John Muzzillo and Sanae Tanaka were the skiers to beat last Thursday (Jan. 10) when the Kokanee Valley Race Series continued with a giant slalom running from Gandy Dancer to Cruiser Corner.
Muzzillo’s two-run time was fastest overall among the 50-plus competitors who turned out for the third race of the season. He finished first in the men’s 50 to 59 division by less than a second over Tenney Wilkins.
David Trussler (men’s 70 to 79) and Paul Psutka (men’s 60 to 69) repeated their age-group victories from the week prior in last Thursday’s race. Other men’s winners included Robert Mitchell (40 to 49), Darcy Trevelyan (30 to 39) Kato Takamine (19 to 29) and Gavin Christie (telemark).
Tanaka held off Janine Linder-Joris for the women’s 50 to 59 win. Other women topping the podium last week were Barbara Walker (60 to 69), Sachiko Yamamoto (40 to 49), Kristi Hirsh (30 to 39), Eriko Matsumoto (19 to 29) and Dawn Englrhart (snowboard).
The series resumes Jan. 24 with another GS to take place on Whistler.