The youngest of four sports-loving brothers, Ethan Shoihet has had to put up with the indignities of being pounded upon by his older siblings.
Yeah, he shrugs, his older brother Albert did “beat me up,” but “he’s a great older brother. He’s tons of fun.”
Like younger brothers everywhere, Ethan, 10, took up the same sports his older brothers enjoy – particularly squash and rugby – and because his older brothers constantly pushed him, he’s had to work harder to keep up.
The result can readily be seen on the squash court, where Ethan recently won the last two Ontario tournaments he entered, and he did pretty well at the nationals, playing against kids a couple of years older than him.
Adding to the family’s pride is that Ethan, winner of the under-11 category at the Ontario Junior Open Championship, was joined in the winner’s circle by Albert, 15, who took top honours in the Under-17 group.
Two brothers, two champions.
Ethan took the title with three straight 3-0 shutouts in the best-of-five final, semi-final and quarter-final matches.
Albert won his championship with a little more drama. In the final, he was tied at one win a piece with nemesis Adam Engel and then lost the third game by a resounding 9-0 margin.
In game four, he fell behind 7-3, but rallied to win and then went on to take the deciding fifth game.
Proud pop Earl Shoihet said Albert is known as “a shot-maker, with great skills and great hand-eye co-ordination.”
In the final, he showed more than that: “He has good mental toughness,” Earl said. “I thought he was done, but he came back.”
With the Open win, Albert’s provincial ranking (under-17) moves to fifth; Ethan’s (under-11) is first.
Ethan, who is 4 foot 10 and 90 pounds, is quite modest about his success. “I’m a bit bigger than the kids I play. I do a lot of training, so I run them out, make them as tired as possible.”
But then comes the telltale hint that, on the squash court at least, he is master of his domain. “Sometimes I feel like putting it away quickly.”
Ethan was pushed a little in the semi-final at the Ontario Open, which saw players from across Canada compete, but the fact he didn’t lose a game at the provincials suggests he’s something special at his sport.
His coach at the Oakville Club, Mike Way, agrees. Ethan, he said, is the complete package. “He’s got talent and a work ethic.”
“He’s a little workhorse. He plays very strong and very fast. He’s a very good athlete and very competitive. He’s a physical little beast.”
Way, who’s coached world champion Jonathon Power, a Canadian, believes Ethan “will have an exceptional career if he continues.”
“I haven’t seen a kid this good, this young,” said Way.
Ethan followed in his brothers’ footsteps when he took up the sport.
Jacob, 17, was the first to pick up a racket and excel, but all the Shoihet brothers are pretty good athletes. Caleb, 13, plays rep basketball and rugby and Albert, before a knee injury sidelined him, also played AAA hockey.
As for Albert, Way believes Ethan’s big brother has even more talent, but not Ethan’s competitive drive.
Still, Albert is Ontario Open champion and ranked fifth in the province. His Open championship came after 18 months away from the sport while he recovered from knee problems brought on by a growth spurt. Missing that much time and still winning the title is a testament to his abilities, Way said.
“He’s got hands and the mind and the tactical aspect” to be a great player.
“Albert is a natural talent,” he added.
Nevertheless, there’s room for improvement in both brother’s games, Way continued. “The big brother has to get the work ethic from little brother, and little brother need to get the touch and tactics of big brother.”
Both boys have the potential to make the under-19 junior national team and compete for Canada at the international level. It’s even possible that Ethan, when he reaches age 15, will make the junior “squad,” a wider pool of players from which the team is selected, he’s that good.
Ethan has shown he can compete above his age level. At the nationals in Victoria a few weeks ago, he played with kids two to 21/2 years older – a huge spread at his age – and still managed to finish fifth in the Under-13 event, even beating the tournament’s third seed, Way said.
It’s no surprise, really. He’s been competing with older kids for a long, long time.