Bajans impress in squash

Top junior players do well in tournament in Canada

Barbados’ top junior squash players all played very well but just missed out on podium finishes in the 2014 Canadian Junior Squash Open which climaxed last night at the White Oaks Resort in Niagara-on-the-Lake in the province of Ontario, Canada.

Three of the four Barbadian participants played at least once on finals day with Barbados and Caribbean champion Khamal Cumberbatch who was only seeded here at No. 5/8, facing the  No. 3/4 seed Ethan Eyles (Australia) on Monday in the Under-13 semi-final. Eyles is coached by his father, the former World Open Squash Champion and World No. 2, Rodney Eyles, and was the steadier of the two players and defeated Cumberbatch in four games 11-4, 11-5, 4-11, 11-5 in 26 minutes.

Khamal Cumberbatch
Khamal Cumberbatch

Cumberbatch then played off for third place yesterday against the other No. 3/4 seed, the Canadian Salaheldin Eltorgman, but lost in four close games, 8-11, 9-11, 11-2, 11-13 and therefore finished fourth, which was an excellent result since Cumberbatch was only seeded to reach the quarter-finals.  Eyles lost in straight games in the final to the top seeded Canadian Abdelrahman Dweek.

Barbadians Meagan Best and Amanda Haywood (the current Barbados and Caribbean U-13 and U-15 champions respectively) both easily won their two matches in the consolation draw on Monday without dropping a game.  Both juniors can be very proud of the fact that despite neither of them being seeded by the event organizers they defeated several opponents that were ranked higher than themselves and, in an amazing coincidence, both lost in their respective quarter-finals to the player who went on to win that particular age group.

Meagan Best

On Monday in the U-15 event, Amanda Haywood beat Amelia Knapp (Canada) 3-0 in the third round of the consolation draw and then beat the No. 5/8 seed Bethany Churchill (Canada) 11-9, 11-4, 12-10 in the consolation quarter-finals. Yesterday in the consolation semi-final Haywood dispatched Maria Paula Moya Lopez (Colombia) 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 but then went down in a tense five-game match in the consolation final to the No. 3/4 seeded Italian, Dina Anguiano, who won 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4 and finished in fifth position in the competition with Haywood finishing in 6th place.  The event was won by Marina Stefanoni (USA) who was only awarded a  No. 5/8 seeding but she beat the top seeded Canadian Miriam Mansoor in the final 3-0.

In the U-13 consolation draw, Meagan Best cut through the field like a hot knife through butter and played five matches, winning them all 3-0 and only gave up a maximum of sixteen points in any of those encounters.  After from dispatching Alessia Ferris (Canada) 11-4, 11-7, 11-2 on Monday the powerful Best overran another Canadian, Molly Chadwick, who was seeded at No. 3/4 – 11-3, 11-3, 11-6.  On Tuesday, Best then blitzed Maya Mansoor (Canada) the No. 5/8 seed 11-3, 11-1, 11-4, before wrapping up a successful four days of competition by overcoming Lucie Stefanoni (USA) also in straight games  11-5, 11-2, 11-9 to finish in fifth place overall.  The winner of this age category was the top seeded Canadian, Lucia Bicknell, who won all of her matches 3-0 apart from her quarter-final showdown with Meagan who took the first two games before Lucia pulled back from the brink to win in five nail-biting games.

Craig Archer, president of the Barbados Squash Association was delighted with the performance of the trio.

“Barbados is fortunate that we have some exceptionally talented young junior players who have trained hard and have done great credit to their nation all year in general and in this tournament in particular. Amanda made the full senior team last year at age 13 and Meagan did so this year at the age of 12.

“Their improvement over the past six to eight months has been remarkable and I expect that if squash is admitted by the IOC into the summer Olympic Games programme for Tokyo in 2020 these two young ladies [Meagan and Amanda] as well as boys like Khamal [Cumberbatch] and few others will form the nucleus of our team there.

“Our kids have proven that they are competitive with some of the best in this region, and their next challenge will be in the US Junior Open next week as the draws are even bigger since many Egyptians and more European players have entered,” Archer said.

The four-day US Junior Open will be hosted at the prestigious Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut and commences on December 20.

There were 258 juniors entered this year in the Canadian Junior Open in eight age group categories (U-13, U-15, U-17, and U-19) for boys and girls.

Source: CA

2 Responses to Bajans impress in squash

  1. Christian Thorne
    Christian Thorne December 18, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Congrats Gavin!!!

  2. Shelly Ross December 18, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    The three young players performed exceptionally well, but Archer forgot that there was a fourth player who he did not mention.

    I would however like to caution that Archer is once again, in his usual misleading manner, giving the impression that junior squash in Barbados is doing well.

    Junior squash in Barbados is poor. Allow me to state some truths.

    In 2004, the national junior team saw their last good performance. With a total of six individual medals including one gold, two silvers and three bronze and the ‘Most Outstanding Player’ in the girls’ division which went to a 14-year-old, who stepped up two divisions to win silver in the under -19 individual competition. The girls’ team won gold while the boys won silver and they were the overall champions of the 2004 Junior Caribbean Squash Championships.

    The girls’ win in 2004, was their 12th title and at that time, they had won that title more often than all the other Caribbean teams combined since the championships began in 1981. It was also the fourth title for the team in six years. That record performance which was all under the coaching of Richard Walcott was destroyed over the last ten years.

    Over the last ten years, the BSA junior team only once stumbled on a team medal and they remain a far cry from the performances they were known for.

    Craig Archer’s several failed attempts over the last ten years to get a coach to do the job that Walcott performed, while Walcott watched at the side line, should be enough for Archer to never manage a sporting administration but alas, who is checking?

    Archer was recently in the press again claiming ‘exemplary performance’ by the squash team at the CAC games, but that would only be accepted by those who do not know enough about the game of squash to know that the medal won was a far cry from exemplary performance.

    The bronze medal which was for the mixed doubles games was given to both quarterfinal losers. There is no play off for 3rd and 4th places and so both received medals.

    ‘Double matches’ in squash are not played by many teams as it is not highly regarded and the CAC games do not play off for 3/4 position.

    With only six teams playing in the mixed doubles, a team only needed to win their first game to be assured of a medal.
    Barbados won their first game against Guatemala and lost their second game against Mexico.

    in the singles matches the Bajan players except for Karen Makins failing to get out of the first round and she was beaten in the second round.

    In the team competition, the ladies team took one of the two 5th places out of seven teams and the men took one of three 9th places out of twelve teams.

    In the doubles competition, the women (with seven teams) and the men (12 teams) failed to win one game.

    How can such performances be hailed as exemplary? This kind of false reporting is mostly likely done for the image of the person who needs to do this for his personal record…but it does no good to players as it sets a tone for mediocrity.


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