Meakins, Simpson win squash titles
The two best Barbadian players over the past decade, Karen Meakins and Shawn Simpson, were both pushed hard but ultimately prevailed in their respective finals as the curtain came down on the 36th annual National Squash Championships at the Barbados Squash Club on Saturday. The women’s top seed and Caribbean No. 2, Meakins, duly claimed her tenth straight national squash title by beating reigning Caribbean Under-19 champion Cheri-Ann Parris 11-4, 8-11, 11-2, 11-6 in a pulsating encounter. Both players started a little nervously but the veteran Meakins settled down quicker and, helped by several unforced errors from her powerfully built teenaged opponent, wrapped up the first game swiftly. The second-seeded Parris, however, was not fazed and increased her pace of shot, sucking Meakings into a power-hitting game before pulling away to win that second game to the delight of the spectators, who had never before seen Meakins drop a single game in ten years at the national championships.But Meakins responded in kind, concentrating on placement instead of power and as her length and width improved, the athletic Parris could not dominate the rallies like before. The third game was over in a flash and the fourth game followed the same pattern, as Meakins, visibly relaxed, grew more confident while placing her shots precisely into the corners to win in four games. The men’s final was just as exciting as the top seed and Caribbean No. 3, Shawn Simpson, was pushed to the very brink before holding on for a 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 14-12 victory over Bryant Cumberbatch.After Cumberbatch claimed the first game, Simpson tried to keep the rallies longer and played a bit more conservatively, but the second was always close with no player taking a significant lead until Simpson claimed the final two points to take it 11-9. Cumberbatch then played a loose third game and made quite a few unforced errors allowing Simpson to cruise to his sixth national title.