They left Barbados being touted as the best junior squash team to embark on an overseas assignment.
And Monday night the Bajan team ended the third day of the July 16-24 34th annual Caribbean Junior Squash Championships being held in the Cayman Islands, having lived up to the high expectations.
At the end of the individual competition which concluded Monday night, Barbados had claimed a record six individual gold medals with a further two silver medals and three bronze medals from the ten individual finals contested.
First in the inaugural Under-11 age group final, the top seed Alex Stewart and the No.2 Aiden Parris played an exciting match that Stewart eventually won in five close games to bring Barbados both the gold and silver medals in the first year that this age group has been held. The previous day, nine-year-old Rebekah Nichols had already claimed the first bronze medal for Barbados in the inaugural Under-11 round-robin competition, which was won yesterday by Guyanese Paige Fernandes.
As expected, Barbados then took the girls’ Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 titles with ease as the top seeded trio of Barbadian girls, who are all reigning Caribbean champions, all comfortably retained their respective titles in straight games. Sumairaa Suleman had to work hard in the first game against Kirsten Gomes of Guyana before winning 14-12, 11-7, 11-2 to claim her second straight Caribbean Under-13 title.
Amanda Haywood claimed her fourth Caribbean title winning easily 3-0 against Trinidadian Alexandria Yearwood in the Under-17 category while 14-year old national senior ladies squash champion Meagan Best won her fourth straight Caribbean title by dispatching Caymanian Jade Pitcairn in the Under-15 final for the loss of three points.
In other matches played Barbadian Chelsie Samuel placed fifth in the Under-15 age group by beating Bermuda’s Abigail Brewer 11-1, 11-1, 11-9, while Jada Smith-Padmore defeated her twin sister Jodi Smith-Padmore 3-1 to win the consolation plate and finish ninth in the same age group.
In the boy’s competition Barbados’ top seeded defending champions, Khamal Cumberbatch (Under-15) and Shemane Griffith (Under-17) both had to work hard but eventually won their respective finals by three games to love. Cumberbatch defeated his Vincentian rival Kai Bentick 13-11, 11-3, 11-6 to win his fourth straight Caribbean title while Griffith made it three in a row by putting out Jamaican Jonathan Walker 11-7, 11-5, 11-6. The No.2 seed in the Under-13 age group, Darien Benn, had to settle for silver as he fell 0-3 to his Guyanese nemesis Shomari Wiltshire, the top seed and defending champion in a repeat of the 2015 Caribbean Under-13 final.
Barbados then won two further bronze medals with excellent performances in the Under-17 age group by the left handed Reggie Brewster, who pulled back from 0-2 down to prevail in five games against Rithew Saywack of Guyana, while another left-hander, the boy’s team captain, Benjamin Griffith, also won his Under-19 third place match against Benjamin Mekdeci of Guyana 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 in three exciting and close games.
Five days of team competition for the boys and girls started Tuesday. The defending champions and top seeded Barbadian girls team played this afternoon against Bermuda and after Tuesday evening’s opening ceremony the No. 2 seeded boys team took on the OECS in pool play. There are 111 players from seven different Caribbean countries competing in this year’s Junior Caribbean Squash Championships.
The 17-member team include: Sumairaa Suleman, Meagan Best, Khamal Cumberbatch, Amanda Haywood, Josiah Shemane Griffith, Alex Stewart, Aiden Parris, Darien Benn, Reginald Brewster, Benjamin Griffith, Zachary Proverbs-Harris, Rebekah Nichols, Chelsie Samuel, Jada and Jodi Smith-Padmore, Ryan Archer and Kemar Lord.
They return home on Sunday night.