Barbados show class in squash tourney
The Barbados’ squash team returned home Monday night after outstanding performances at the just concluded 24th Caribbean Senior Squash Championships in Trinidad and Tobago.
Solid, disciplined performances from the Barbados women and veterans teams on the final afternoon over the weekend, saw them both defeat their opponents, Guyana and Trinidad respectively by three matches to two to claim team gold medals and ensure Barbados also finished runners-up in the overall team category.
The Barbados veterans team won gold versus Trinidad and Tobago for the 6th successive year and was anchored by superb performances from Andrea Goodridge who played brilliantly to win her second over-40s individual title against Ru Celestine in straight games, 11-5, 11-2, 11-3. Team captain Mark Sealy won his 5th individual Caribbean age group title in six years by defeating over-50s John Holley in four games, 5-11, 11-2, 11-4, 11-5. But after Barbados’ Don Benn fell to Trinidad’s over-40s champion Paul Deverteuil 0-3, and over-60s bronze medallist Leon Truss also lost to his Trinidadian nemesis, Richard Hart 0-3, this left the veterans’ tie finely balanced at two matches apiece.
But in the last match on court, the over-50s silver medallist Lynn deCambra-McLeod sealed the 3-2 victory for Barbados with a controlled display against the dangerous Trinidadian, Ingrid Lloyd, 11-8, 13-11, 11-8 to the delight of the Barbadian spectators. The Barbados vets team finished first, with Trinidad second, Cayman Islands third and Guyana in fourth place in the vets team round-robin competition.
A similar pattern took place on the adjacent court 3 at the recently upgraded Queens Park Squash Complex in the Barbados women’s team final versus Guyana. In the No. 3 position, 16-year-old Amanda Haywood confidently defeated the left- handed Akeila Wiltshire 11-8, 11-4, 11-4 to get the ball rolling for Barbados. In the No.1 slot, the individual women’s finalist Karen Meakins was too good for Ashley Khalil and won 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 but Guyana then restored parity with a brace of wins. First at No.5, Barbadian Muffin Stollmeyer lost to Guyanese teenager, Taylor Fernandes, 6-11, 5-11, 6-11 and then the reigning Caribbean U19 champion Larissa Wiltshire proved to be a bit too athletic at No.4 for Barbados’ Lilianna White who played very well but lost in four close games 6-11, 11-5, 6-11, 8-11 to leave the tie locked at 2-2.
Playing for Barbados at No.2 for the very first season, and with the weight of a nation on her 14-year-old shoulders, Meagan Best, the reigning Caribbean U15 champion and also the youngest ever senior Caribbean female champion, did not disappoint. In four hard fought games, Best duly defeated her determined and diminutive Guyanese opponent, Mary Fung-a-Fat, 11-5, 8-11, 11-3, 11-7 to seal Barbados’ eighth women’s team gold medal in all and to topple their perennial rivals Guyana who had won this team title for the last three years. Best finished as the only player at these 2016 Caribbean championships to play unbeaten in both the individual and the team events and the single game she lost against Fung-a-Fat was the only game she dropped in the entire seven days of competition. The Barbados women’s team finished first, with Guyana in second, Trinidad in third, Cayman in third and Bermuda in fourth place.
In other results, in the men’s team final Bermuda defeated Trinidad 3-2 in another nail-biting contest that went down to the last match. Guyana finished third and Cayman fourth, with the OECS fifth, Jamaica sixth and, disappointingly, the Barbados men’s team slipped from fourth place in 2015 down to the cellar position this year. In the overall team championships, this lapse proved crucial as hosts Trinidad and Tobago just pipped Barbados to finish first overall, with the defending overall team champions, Barbados slipping to second place with Guyana third and Bermuda fourth.
At the closing ceremony and trophy presentation held last night Meagan Best was given a special award for being the outstanding player of the 2016 championships. Bermuda’s top male player, Micah Franklin, was also lauded for his outstanding sportsmanship throughout.
Next year’s Caribbean Senior Squash Championships will be held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in August.