Barbados’ talented pool of junior squash players ruled the courts with an overall third consecutive title when the 2019 Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Championships took place at Queen’s Park Cricket Club in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The reigning champions returned home yesterday afternoon with four age-group gold medals led by Under-19 champions Meagan Best and Khamal Cumberbatch who both captured their seventh straight individual titles competing at the tournament.
In addition to Best, Under-13 queen Ebony Atherley and Under-11 star Phoebe Gittens delivered gold medal performances while Sumairaa Suleman finished second in the Under-15 category which coach Shawn Simpson explained made the girls’ team unbeatable.
This is the fifth consecutive year the girls have won the championship while the boys came second to Guyana even though Cumberbatch [rank top eight in the Pan American region] and Darien Benn [second] in the Under-15 division performed well.
“What happened on the girls’ side is that we had three age group category winners, so by having that on our girls’ team is basically unbeatable from that point of view.
“On the boys’ side, you had Khamal who would have won the under-19 age group category. Then you also had Darien Benn that finished second in the boys under-15. However, when you look at that, it only gives us two wins, every match depending on who you come up against… Guyana has three strong individuals, their under-13 representative finished second, their under-15 boy won the title, and under-17 won. So, with that, you could see their team was very strong,” Simpson explained.
Minister of Sports John King greeted the team on their arrival at the Grantley Adams International Airport where he commended them on their achievement and encouraged the squash players to remain disciplined.
“…We are proud of your achievement especially in a time where [I am going to say it until it changes] so many negative things are printed in the press or said about young people, and you guys would stand out as an example of what is achievable.
“Thank you for doing what you do. You showed discipline, which is one of the things that seems to be missing in some areas of our lives. But I also want to encourage you to continue doing what you are doing. Because for each one of you who has come and got to this point, it isn’t about medals, just being at this point where you could represent your country and represent it at this level. You don’t know who the next set of squash players are going to be that you are already influencing at this point in your life,” King said.
Barbados boast of having nine overall titles but remain behind Guyana who ruled junior squash for 12 years straight up until 2016. However, victorious coach Simpson said he looks forward to doing bigger and better things onwards especially next year when the junior national team travel to Bermuda to defend the title.
Team Barbados are also hoping to retain the title next year since it will be the last year competing at the junior level for Best, the Smith-Padmore twin Jada and Jodi along with Under-19 boys champion Khamal Cumberbatch.