The battle for regional squash supremacy will return to local shores this coming week as Barbados host the 22nd Senior Caribbean Squash Championships.
More than 100 players from eight Caribbean territories – some arriving fresh off competition at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – have qualified for the week-long tournament which runs from August 16 to 23 at the Barbados Squash Club.
“The excitement is steadily building as we look forward to welcoming our Caribbean neighbours,” said Craig Archer, president of the Barbados Squash Association at a media briefing at the Barbados Olympic Centre today.
“From a national perspective, our mission is clear – to play with pride and industry and defend our home court advantage. Despite the presence of a very strong overseas contingent, we too have assembled a very strong team and we remain optimistic of a good showing. We are very much looking forward to a fantastic week of squash,” Archer added.
Barbados last organised the annual Championships in 2003.
Reigning seven-time national champion Shawn Simpson is expected to lead a buoyant Barbados outfit that includes Mark Gilkes, Zaki Williams, Ryan Foster, Stewart St John and the Cumberbatch brothers – Gavin, Rhett and Bryant.
Local squash queen Karen Meakins, the reigning 14-time national champion, will captain a team comprising Nadia McCarthy, Alex Jordan, Amanda Haywood and
Among the veterans, Mark Sealy (Men’s +50) will captain the mixed team of Andy Gill (Men’s +40), Leon Truss (Men’s +60), Kristina Evelyn (Ladies +40), Lynn DeCambra-McLeod (Ladies +50) and Ruth Deane-Webster (Ladies +50).
“We have a robust team with experience in spades and everyone is motivated to win the overall title at home. We have a plan and we intend to execute,” added Archer.
Barbados finished second overall last year in Guyana, as the hosts secured the overall crown by winning both the men’s and ladies’ titles. Barbados are the defending – and perennial – veteran champions.
This year the top four players from 2013 are returning with defending four-time champion and pre-tournament favourite Chris Binnie of Jamaica leading the charge. Last year runner-up Sunil Seth of Guyana has also confirmed his attendance, along with Guyanese compatriot Richard Chin and Cameron Stafford of the Cayman Islands, who both reached the semi-finals.
Also expected to mount a serious challenge will be Shawn Simpson of Barbados, Micah Franklin of Bermuda, Colin Ramsara of Trinidad and Tobago, along with Guyanese national champion, Alex Arjoon.
Among the ladies, Meakins is expected to be the top seed, as the defending champion Nicolette Fernandes of Guyana will not be competing. Other top players include McCarthy and Jordan of Barbados, Brooke Burrowes of Jamaica, Faith Gillezeau of Trinidad and Tobago, and the Guyanese trio of Mary Fung-A-Fat, Ashley deGroot and Victoria Arjoon.
The team event starts on August 19 at the Barbados Squash Club from 9 a.m.