Barbados finally returned to the summit of Junior Caribbean Squash on Saturday when both the girls’ and boys’ squash teams crushed arch-rivals Guyana to win the team finals at the 35th Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association Championships (Junior CASA) which were held over the past week in Guyana.
In the morning session, which was played at the Georgetown Club squash complex, the defending champion Barbados girls’ team completed a three-peat of girls team titles by trouncing Guyana 5-0 in matches, winning every encounter by three games to love. Up first for Barbados, in the U-17 slot, Jada Smith-Padmore showcased her athleticism to defeat Makeda Harding 11-9, 11-6, 11-5. Then Barbados’ team captain Amanda Haywood, who played in the U-19 #2 position, dispatched Rebecca Low 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 while Caribbean U-17 champion, Meagan Best, who played this year in the U-19#1 position in the team event, easily beat the Caribbean individual U-19 champion, Taylor Fernandes 11-5, 11-4, 11-1 to dash Guyanese hopes.
Closing out proceedings for Barbados, the reigning Caribbean U-15 individual champion, Chelsie Samuel, defeated Abosaide Cadogan 11-6, 11-9, 12-10 in a hard fought contest, while the diminutive Sumairaa Suleman, the three time Caribbean U-13 individual champion, brilliantly defeated Kirsten Gomes 11-2, 11-4, 11-1 to complete the rout and secure a record 15th girls team title for Barbados, who moved one ahead of Guyana who has won 14 girls’ team titles in the 35 year history of the Junior CASA Championships. Guyana finished in 2nd place, Trinidad and Tobago placed 3rd and Cayman Islands 4th in the four team girls’ round robin.
Then in the evening session, the Barbados boys’ team faced stern resistance but still defeated Guyana 4-1 in matches to claim their first boys’ team title since 2002 and for only the 5thoccasion in total. Playing first in the U-17 slot, the Caribbean champion, Khamal Cumberbatch, defeated Daniel Islam 11-2, 11-5, 11-4 to get the ball rolling for Barbados. At U-19 #2, the New York based southpaw, Reginald Brewster, then outlasted a determined Alex Cheeks in five games 11-5, 11-7, 11-13, 6-11, 11-6 to the delight of the noisy group of Barbadian spectators and parents to all but seal the deal for the Bajan lads. In the U-19 #1 position, Caribbean individual champion Josiah Griffith then overcame the Guyanese team captain, Ben Mekdeci 14-12, 11-8, 11-6 to ensure the victory for Barbados.
Playing in the U-15 position, the diminutive 13 year old Barbadian, Darien Benn, was then beaten by the Caribbean champion in this age group, Shomari Wiltshire, 1-11, 2-11, 1-11 to give the home town supporters something to cheer about, but in the U-13 slot, Alex Stewart defeated the promising Michael Alphonso in four games 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 to clinch the excellent 4-1 victory and the boys team title for Barbados. Guyana finished in 2nd place, Jamaica placed 3rd, Cayman Islands 4th, Bermuda 5th and Trinidad and Tobago 6th in the six team boys’ round robin.
In the overall team standings, which is determined on points earned by each team’s finishing position in the two team events, Barbados placed 1st with 20 points; Guyana was 2nd (16 pts.); Cayman 3rd (10 pts.); Trinidad & Tobago 4th (9 pts.); Jamaica 5th (6 pts.); Bermuda 6th (4 pts.).
Barbados was able to field its strongest and most balanced team ever this year, and won at least one medal in each of the ten individual age group categories for boys and girls, and finished with a record haul of 15 medals in total, including all three gold medals on offer in the team event, as well as 6 gold, 2 silver, and 4 bronze medals in the individuals. Two other Barbadian players won their consolation plate finals and finished in fifth place. Such dominance allowed Barbados to secure its first overall team title since 2004 and, as a result, Barbados returns to the summit of Junior Caribbean Squash after stopping Guyana’s run of 12 successive overall team titles.
Results (Barbadian players mentioned first):
Girls Team Final (Barbados 5-0 Guyana)
U-17 Jada Smith-Padmore def. Makeda Harding 11-9, 11-6, 11-5
U-19 #2 Amanda Haywood def. Rebecca Low 11-3, 11-7, 11-5
U-19 #1 Meagan Best def. Taylor Fernandes 11-5, 11-4, 11-1
U-15 Chelsie Samuel def. Abosaide Cadogan 11-6, 11-9, 12-10
U-13 Sumairaa Suleman def. Kirsten Gomes 11-2, 11-4, 11-1
Boys Team Final (Barbados 4-1 Guyana)
U-17 Khamal Cumberbatch def. Daniel Islam 11-2, 11-5, 11-4
U-19 #2 Reginald Brewster def. Alex Cheeks 11-5, 11-7, 11-13, 6-11, 11-6
U-19 #1 Josiah Griffith def. Ben Mekdeci 14-12, 11-8, 11-6
U-15 Darien Benn lost to Shomari Wiltshire 1-11, 2-11, 1-11
U-13 Alex Stewart def. Michael Alphonso 11-13, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5