Khamal Cumberbatch emerged double crown champion for the second year running when the 34th annual Sagicor General Junior National Squash Championships concluded last weekend.
Cumberbatch successfully defended the Boy’s Under-13 and Boys Under-15 age group titles during competition at the courts of the Barbados Squash Club.
This performance from the stylish Cumberbatch, also the reigning Caribbean under-13 champion, carried his tally of career titles to eight and maintained a family tradition in regional squash circles. Three of his older brothers have all laid claim to at least one Caribbean junior squash crown as well as multiple national junior titles.
Khamal’s brother Gavin is the reigning national senior champion, while Rhett and Bryant are active Barbados national players.
In the under-13 final action on Saturday, Khamal comfortably defeated the No.2 seed Zechariah Naitram in straight games 11-4, 11-0, 11-1 to retain his title.
In a highly entertaining Under-15 final, which was a repeat of last year’s play-off, Khamal was fully stretched by No.2 Shemane Griffith but turned back the challenge.
Griffith, who has shown great improvement over the past year, dropped the first game but came back to level games at 2-2 and forced the contest into a deciding fifth game. Cumberbatch was pushed hard by Griffith in the fifth game and trailed 2-7 before holding his nerve and turning it around to hold a 10-8 match ball lead.
Griffith managed to save one match ball but could go no further as Cumberbatch finished off the game at nine and punched the air in glee as
he won the match 11-1, 6-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9 to claim his eighth national junior title.
In the final match of the tournament, the Boys’ U-19 final, 14-year-old Shemane Griffith then faced the defending champion and top seed, Stewart St. John, and once again came agonizingly close to causing his third upset in as many days in this division before succumbing to the more experienced St. John. The champion won in five close games 6-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7 to claim his seventh national junior title.
Shemane’s older brother, Benjamin Griffith, defeated Gylla Mackenzie in this age group 3-1 to finish third and also easily defeated Zachary Proverbs-Harris in straight games to win the U-17 age group 11-4, 11-1, 11-3.
All the other finals finished as expected. Darien Benn defeated Alex Stewart 3-0 in the U-11 final to claim his first national junior title.
Nine year old Sumairaa Suleman defeated Chelsie Samuel in five close games 2-11, 11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6 to claim her first Girls U-11 title. The reigning Caribbean U-13 champion Meagan Best played unbeaten without even dropping a game to clinch the U-13 age group round robin event from Jada Smith-Padmore with Chelsie Samuels finishing third. In the U-15 round robin Amanda Haywood, the top seed, defeated Meagan Best 3-0 to claim her fifth national title with Alyssa White finishing third. Haywood then faced the reigning Caribbean U-17 champion,
Gylla Mackenzie in the U-17 age group with Mackenzie winning in three close games to claim a record 13th national junior title with Alyssa White once again finishing third. The Richard Walcott trophy for Best Sportsmanship was won by Darien Benn while the Most Improved trophy was presented to Shemane Griffith. (BB)