Top squash seeds dominate
Veterans show superb form in championship over the weekend
Lynn deCambra-McLeod was in dominant form over the weekend as several keenly contested matches brought the curtain down on the National Veterans Squash Championships at the Barbados Squash Club. Generally the results went with seedings, although in only two age groups did the top seed emerge victorious after four days of rigorous competition.
In the ladies’ over-40 open, the top seed and defending champion deCambra-McLeod, who is also the reigning Caribbean over-50 champion, easily defeated the other two competitors in the field in straight games to win this age group event once again. The No. 2 seed Cilla Seale had earlier defeated Carolyn Last-Johnson in five close games to finish in second place.
Competition for the men was held in five different age groups and in the men’s 35-44 age group final the No. 2 seed Andy Gill had to fight all the way to overcome Mark Gilkes, who had defeated the top seed and former two-time Caribbean over-40 champion, Mark Sealy, in a pulsating semi-final match.
Gill won an exciting contest in straight games in 35 minutes but this final was a very even affair with long rallies throughout with very few unforced errors from either player. In the first game both players took a while to settle down after a slightly nervous start but Gill never trailed in it and won this game for the loss of eight points. Gilkes steadied himself and tried to extend the rallies in the second game and work on Gill’s patience but the former 2003 national squash champion kept in each rally with tremendous retrieving from all four corners of the court and cleverly used the crosscourt lob when forced into either of the two front corners.
Gilkes led 7-4 and 8-5 in this second game but Gill reeled off six straight points to win that game again at eight and take a commanding two games
to love lead. The third game was the closest with several lead changes and long punishing rallies that had the spectators gasping in amazement. Gilkes led 3-2, then trailed 3-7 and then fought back to 9-8 up. Gill kept pressing and moved to 10-9 match ball up.
But Gilkes would not go quietly and saved match balls to pull back to 10-all and then 11-all. It would take something spectacular to win the match and Gill had the answer when he was 12-11 up.
On his third match ball he jumped high to pluck a high crosscourt lob going over his left shoulder out of the air and caressed a winning backhand crosscourt volley nick into the right front corner to bring an epic match to a fitting conclusion 11-8, 11-8, 13-11. The top seed Mark Sealy proved to be too steady for Marlon White in the third place match and won in four games after dropping the first 9-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-7. Don Benn easily defeated Leon Truss in straight games 11-5, 11-0, 11-5 to win the plate and finish fifth.
In the Men’s over-45 age group the two top seeds met in the final, with No. 1 Terry Millar playing his best match of the week to defeat the No. 2 seed, Sylvester Nurse, 11-3, 11-3, 11-8. Paul Sealy finished third and Michael Best fourth.
The top two seeds in the men’s over-50 age group were both upset earlier in the week by Andrew Nunes who defeated them both 3-1 to win this age group for the first time. The No. 2 seed Dean Straker defeated the top seed Mickey Armstrong, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5 who seemed to be struggling during the week after returning to competitive play after only recently recovering from a long-term injury sustained early in the season.
In the men’s over-55 age group the top seed and defending champion Cliff Nolan was defeated by No. 2 seed Craig Archer in a hard fought final 11-4, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7 while Orson Simpson finished third.
The men’s over-60 age group saw a return to form to the former champion Errol Pilgrim who impressively vanquished all his opponents 3-0 to reclaim the title he relinquished in 2013. On the last day Pilgrim defeated Chester Haynes 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 to finish in first place, with David Spink finishing second, and Ruairidh Mackenzie third with Haynes in fourth position.