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Simply the Best

Precocious talent creating squash history

She doesn’t play like a 14-year-old, she is fearless and is a force with which to reckon.

That description of teenage squash sensation and the youngest ever Caribbean female champion, Meagan Best, came from former regional squash queen Karen Meakins on their arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport last night.

The Barbados squash team returned home shortly before midnight and Meakins, the 15-time national champion was full of praise for Best who created history by beating her in straight sets 11-9, 12-10 and 11-5 in the women’s final of the 24th Caribbean Senior Squash Championships held at the Queens Park Squash Complex, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago last week. Meakins was chasing her fourth regional title in her tenth consecutive individual final but had to settle for second best this time around.

Team Barbados on their return home last night. Karen Meakins is fourth left.

Team Barbados on their return home last night. Karen Meakins is fourth left.

It was an exceptionally good performance from the Barbados squad who represented the ultramarine, gold and black with pride by capturing gold in both the women’s team and veterans’ competitions respectively. The Barbados contingent placed second overall behind hosts Trinidad and Tobago while Guyana came third.

Speaking with Barbados TODAY at the airport on her accomplishment, Best said she did not expect to do so well but was thrilled with the outcome.

 The Caribbean’s newest squash queen Meagan Best returned home last night and was greeted with hugs from her proud father Michael Best.

The Caribbean’s newest squash queen Meagan Best returned home last night and was greeted with hugs from her proud father Michael Best.

“I am so overjoyed I don’t know what to say because I did not expect it. But I put in the training and hard work so it paid off. I told myself mentally I am young, inexperienced and I have nothing to lose. So just go out there and try my best and if I fall short just come back and try again next year because I am still very young with a lot more years ahead of me.

“I felt pretty good that I was playing my teammate but knowing that she had experience definitely had me a bit nervous. But as I say I just went out, played confidently and tried my best. I used my powerful strokes, I pinned her in the back and just executed my shots from there and my coaches Shawn Simpson, Rhett Cumberbatch and Cameron Stafford all helped me to do my best and I appreciated that,” Best said.

The right-handed player is so confident in her abilities that she does not feel any pressure now that much will be expected of her and intends to just keep training hard and remain positive.

Currently a student of the St Michael School, Best has had a phenomenal year in squash so far by impressively retaining her under-15 title undefeated at the Junior Caribbean Championship recently held in Cayman Islands. She won her first national title a few months ago to end Meakins’ reign at the top and has now taken her game to a whole new level by being the top female player in the region.

The 44-year-old Meakins said squash was in very good hands in Barbados and singled out Best, Amanda Haywood, Muffin Stollmeyer and Lilianna White as the future of the sport. She also praised the young players for their role in dethroning perennial champions Guyana 3-2 in the women’s team final. Meakins added this was an achievement the team had worked hard towards from early this year.

Despite being one of the senior players in regional squash, Meakins said she did not intend to call it quits anytime soon and had her eyes set on competing at the next senior championships.

“I love to play squash and if my body is in good order then I plan to be on the team for many years to come. I have no problem playing lower down the order and I have been captain for quite a few years now and I have seen these young girls grow and develop and I really want to see them growing more and getting better,” said Meakins, who is about to prepare for the World Masters in South Africa in five weeks time.

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