Meagan Best and Shawn Simpson have convincingly retained their status as national squash singles champions.
The 43rd annual Barbados Senior National Squash Championship, sponsored by the Barbados Olympic Association, was contested over the weekend at the Barbados Squash Club courts located at Marine Gardens, Hastings, Christ Church.
In the women’s final, Barbados’ top seed Best with her hard-hitting trademark shots, delivered them to perfection as she slammed her way to the title in straight sets 11-4, 11-6 and 11-8 against Amanda Haywood who was ranked number two.
Meanwhile in the men’s final, last year’s finalists Simpson and Rhett Cumberbatch came up against each other yet again as the top two seeds. Appearing in his 14th national final for the past 15 years and winning yesterday for a record ninth time was Simpson who came in as the number one seed and defied the odds with a left ankle injury to defeat Cumberbatch 11-5, 7-11, 11-5 and 11-5 and bring the curtains down on a two-week long competition.
Many had their eyes set on the women’s final, as expected, when one has the reigning Caribbean women’s squash champion in action. This is Best’s second overall trophy at nationals having created history last year when she became Barbados’ and the region’s youngest squash queen by defeating former three-time Caribbean senior squash champion and 15-time national squash sensation, Karen Meakins, who missed her first national championship in 16 years due to travel commitments.
Speaking with Barbados TODAY Best who won bronze at the 2016 Canadian Junior Open said retaining her championship was evidence that her hard work at training was paying off with squash coach Rhett Cumberbatch and fitness coach Andrew Callender as her guides.
“I enjoyed my game. I expected a more difficult encounter but I will take it. I stop eating a lot of junk food, I am just trying a lot harder, there are some days you don’t feel like playing but I am just giving it my all playing the game,” said Best, who now has her eyes set on the Sagicor Life Junior Nationals running March 9 to 11.
Going into the men’s final, Simpson definitely had the edge over Cumberbatch having won eight titles. The game was tied 1-1 when Simpson aggravated his left ankle in the third set. It was an injury obtained while playing Division One volleyball last year.
Simpson was given a maximum of three minutes treatment time by referee Marlon White before returning to court where he did not appear as mobile as he would have liked to be but still managed to keep up with Cumberbatch who made a few costly mistakes by going too early for his shots, instead of rallying Simpson and wearing him down.
“Unfortunately I got injured during the match but I was able to press on and it took a lot of mental strength to push on because I really didn’t want to hand it over to him by retiring. So it felt really nice coming through.
“I never expected in my career back when I was sixteen, seventeen to be a nine-time senior men’s champion but once I started to win, I just set goals for myself, I looked at the charts in terms of the winners and realized Rudy Goodridge had the most consecutive titles won which were three. So I went after that, I won three straight, then I went on to win five straight which was the record and after that I set my sights on becoming the overall record holder,” Simpson said.
Third position of the senior men’s championship went to Gavin Cumberbatch, Bryant Cumberbatch was fourth and Zaki Williams finished fifth while the consolation Plate winner was Zachary Harris. Jada Smith-Padmore defeated her twin Jodi 11-13, 11-8, 11-6 and 11-1 for third in the senior women’s showdown.
For the first time in 15 years, senior nationals were ran simultaneously with the masters and in the men’s over-40, Mark Sealy came out on top against Deep Panjwant in second and Preston Parris third. The men’s over 50 went to Leon Truss who defeated Craigg Archer. Edward Ince came third and Marcel Murrell was fourth. Meanwhile the men’s open over-60 champion was Edwin Wickham, Errol Pilgrim was runner-up, David Foster was third defeating Lynn De Cambra McLeod who played with the men because there was no female competition.