Barbados’ star players will have to wait until next year for a shot to compete on the squash court after it was officially announced that both Junior and Senior Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) tournaments have been postponed until 2021.
During a virtual meeting held last week Wednesday, the regional executive body made the decision to postpone the XXXX Junior CASA in Hamilton, Bermuda and the XXVI Senior CASA in Jamaica.
Following that meeting, a letter signed by CASA secretary Kevin Hannaway was sent out and it stated that the decision to postpone CASA was made in the best interest of all concerned.
“The utmost priority of the Caribbean Area Squash Association is the health and well-being of all the athletes, officials, coaches, and parents otherwise known as the CASA Family. As a result, the Caribbean Area Squash Association Executive has made the following decisions with the best interest of our family, as it relates to the Junior CASA 2020 (Bermuda) and Senior CASA 2020 (Jamaica) due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) on the CASA Region,” the letter said.
It was expected that this year doubles would be introduced for the first time at the junior CASA. But that will now be pushed back to 2021 while the age group championships will remain the same.
The junior CASA individual and team championships were scheduled to hit off on July 19th to 25th in Hamilton, Bermuda. Meanwhile, the senior CASA individual and team were scheduled to take place August 15th to 23rd in Kingston, Jamaica.
The postponement came as no surprise after CASA president Ramon Chana-Sue told Barbados TODAY during a March interview that he could not foresee both major tournaments taking place because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Besides 2007 summer in Jamaica when hurricane Dean forced the stoppage of CASA, Chana-Sue said they have never experienced anything of this magnitude.
Barbados have dominated Junior CASA within the last decade led by seven-time champions Meagan Best and Khamal Cumberbatch, both of whom are the reigning Under-19 queen and king.
With Best and Cumberbatch being at the top of their game in the region, it was expected that Barbados with a good blend of young talented junior players would have easily reclaimed the overall crown.
Meanwhile, the seniors led by 11-time national record holder and reigning number one Shawn Simpson along with 17-year-old Best, a former two-time defending women’s champion, finished second overall last year to Guyana.
Best had major hopes of reclaiming her women’s championship relinquished last year to veteran Nicolette Fernandes of Guyana. Similarly, Simpson, who finished in the round of 16 last year, planned this time around to make at least the semifinal or finish higher.
During a March interview with this online newspaper, Best said: “Last year was a little tough for me because as you know they brought in a top 30 world player (Nicolette Fernandes) on the Guyanese team and unfortunately I lost to her in the final. If it is to be held (senior CASA) I would be hoping that my training and everything that I have been doing here at home on the road is going to pay off in the long run to the tournament.
“When I was growing up Nicolette was the name I would always hear and I looked up to her. She would pass through Barbados sometimes and give me some games which was nice of her. But having played her on a serious level (last year) I know what it is to be on the court with her. I know now what the plan is to kind of go in there and represent myself better. Mentally now that I’ve gotten over my fan crush phase, I would be going in there more than ready to fight back for my title.”
Similarly, where senior CASA is concerned, Simpson said, “… I wanted to perform at the Caribbean Area Squash Championships. I had a hard draw last year especially after a little mix-up with the seedings and ended up meeting the number one seed in the round of 16.
“One of the things I want to do as a result of what happened last year is come back hard, work hard and get deep in the Caribbean Championship.”