Best makes history; seeking further glory
Meagan Best is the talk of the town!
The precocious 14-year-old Barbadian squash sensation caused a spectacular upset last night on Day 2 of the 24th Caribbean Senior Squash Championships at the Queen’s Park Squash Complex in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, when she defeated the No.2 seed Ashley Khalil of Guyana in straight games.
Best’s accomplishment meant she became the youngest ever female finalist in the history of the event which was first staged in 1977.
The talented teenager has enjoyed much success this year, winning the Barbados Under-15 and Under-17 titles in March, then becoming the youngest ever female national squash champion in April, and then winning her fourth straight Caribbean age group title last month in the Caribbean Under-15 final in Cayman Islands.
That victory helped the Barbados girls’ team to clinch their second successive team gold medal at the 34th Caribbean Junior Squash Championships.
But last night in Trinidad and Tobago Best accomplished her greatest feat thus far. Seeded at No. 3/4 at the championships, the powerfully built Best stormed to an emphatic 11-6, 11-5, 11-4 victory over the reigning Caribbean Under-19 junior champion, Larissa Wiltshire of Guyana, in their quarterfinal match-up in the morning. She then returned in the evening’s semifinal to dispatch the No. 2 seed from Guyana, Ashley Khalil, 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 to reach her first ever Caribbean senior ladies final. It was an emphatic victory achieved with some style.
If Best were to crown herself in further glory tonight, she will have to do it in an all-Barbados affair as her opponent in the women’s final is Barbados’ top player for the past 15 years, Karen Meakins, the top seed and three-time defending Caribbean ladies champion. Meakins reached a record 10th successive Caribbean final after two fairly routine victories yesterday.
Meakins defeated Guyanese Akeila Wiltshire 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 in her quarterfinal match and in her subsequent semi-final dispatched Wiltshire’s Guyanese teammate, the No. 3/4 seed Mary Fung-a-Fat, 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 in a repeat of the 2014 Caribbean women’s final that Meakins also won.
In other results involving Barbadian players, 16-year- old Amanda Haywood, defeated Akeila Wiltshire in the 5-8th playoff semi-final after brilliantly pulling back from a 0-2 deficit to win 6-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-9 and was slated to play Akeila’s younger sister, Larissa, for 5th place this evening.
Barbadian teenagers Jada Smith-Padmore (14) and Chelsie Samuel (13) both won twice yesterday and faced each other today in the ladies consolation plate final. Smith-Padmore defeated Bermudans Meagan Jackson 3-1 and then Morgan Lightfoot 11-6, 11-9, 11-5. Samuel first defeated the experienced Jamaican Nathlee Boreland 3-0 and then another Bermudin player, Grace Edy, in three close games 13-11, 11-8, 11-9.
The men’s final will be between two Jamaicans, Chris Binnie, the six-time champion, who reached a record eighth successive men’s final when his Guyanese opponent, Sunil Seth, unfortunately had to retire with what looked to be a serious ankle injury at two-all in the fifth game in their semi-final.
Binnie will face compatriot Lewis Walters who upset the No. 2 seed, Cameron Stafford of the Cayman Islands in three close and hard-fought games.