To the delight of their assembled parents and other supporters, the Barbados squash team duly delivered a record medal haul on the third day of the 35th annual Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association Championships (Junior CASA) being held in Georgetown, Guyana.
At the end of the individual competition Tuesday, Barbadian players had claimed a record six individual gold medals with a further two silver medals and four bronze medals from the ten individual finals contested. This tally was one medal better than Barbados’ previous best result achieved last year (six gold, two silver and three bronze).
First in the Under-11 category ten year old Rebekah Nichols swept to a confident 3-0 victory in the final against the Guyanese Beau Fernandes to pick up the first Junior CASA gold medal for Barbados while in the Under-11 boys’ category Zishan Motara placed third in his first ever Caribbean championship when he defeated Caymanian Brody McComb 3-1 in a hard fought contest.
Then as expected, Barbados took the girls’ Under-13, Under-15 and U-17 titles with ease as the top seeded trio of Barbadian girls, all comfortably claimed their respective titles in straight games. Sumairaa Suleman easily beat Kirsten Gomes of Guyana 11-3, 11-4, 11-2 to claim her third straight Caribbean U-13 title. Then Chelsie Samuel won her first Caribbean U-15 title with a comfortable 11-2, 11-5, 11-2 victory over another Guyanese opponent Abosaide Cadogan, while our 15-year old, national senior ladies squash champion, Meagan Best, won her fifth straight Caribbean junior title by defeating Caymanian Jade Pitcairn in the U-17 final 11-7, 11-4, 11-1.
Amanda Haywood, playing in her first U-19 final, was unable to secure the clean sweep of girls titles for Barbados and had to settle for the silver medal in an exciting contest, going down in five close games 8-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5, 8-11 to the top seeded Guyanese champion Taylor Fernandes.
In other U-17 matches played Barbadian, Jada Smith-Padmore defeated Guyanese Makeda Harding 3-0 to finish third while her twin sister Jodi Smith-Padmore defeated yet another Guyanese player, Sarah Lewis, 3-2, in a very close contest to win the consolation plate and finish fifth in the same age group.
In the boy’s competition two of Barbados’ gold medallists from 2016 stepped up one age group but still came away victorious. The top seed in the U-17 age group Khamal Cumberbatch comfortably defeated his Vincentian rival Kai Bentick 3-0 to win his fifth straight Caribbean title while Josiah Griffith made it four titles in a row by beating home town favourite Ben Mekdeci (Guy) in four games in the U-19 final 4-11 11-8 11-6 11-4. Barbadian Reginald Brewster also put in a spirited performance to win the U-19 consolation plate final 3-1 against Alex Cheeks (GUY) and finish fifth.
In the U-15 age group, Darien Benn, placed third by defeating Bermudian Charlie Riker 3-1 in another close affair, while in the U-13 age group, left handed Aiden Parris had to settle for the silver medal as he fell 1-3 to the top seeded Caymanian, Jace Jervis. In the same age group, Barbadian Alex Stewart defeated another Guyanese opponent Michael Alphonso in four games to snatch the bronze medal.
Four days of team competition for the boys and girls now follow. The defending champions and top seeded Barbadian girls team are looking to win the team event for the third straight year while the Bajan team will look to knock the defending champion Guyanese boys team off their perch on their home courts.
There are 98 players from seven different Caribbean countries competing in this year’s Junior Caribbean Squash Championships, namely Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, OECS, Trinidad and Tobago as well as hosts, Guyana.