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Record 14th for champ Meakins

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Record 14th for champ Meakins

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As she has done every year since 2001, local squash queen Karen Meakins brushed aside another challenger and duly claimed her record 14th straight national squash title Thursday night in the 40th annual Barbados National Squash Championships, which are being played on the renovated courts at the Barbados Squash Club. 
Meakins faced the second seed, Gylla Mackenzie, the reigning Barbados and Caribbean U-17 champion, but unlike last year’s close encounter, Meakins was back to her dominant best and easily dispatched her teenaged opponent in straight games 11-2, 11-2, 11-5 to claim her 14th title in as many attempts. 
Meakins now also holds the record of most finals played by any player, having gone one better than the 13 successive finals played between 1984 and 1996 by Natalie Small (nee Webber), who won 11 national women’s titles over that period. 
Also in impressive form was Nadia McCarthy, who used her superior pace of shot to defeat radio personality Alex Jordan, in four games 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 to finish third.
In the fifth place playoff, 14-year-old schoolgirl Amanda Haywood played well to defeat Muffin Stollmeyer 11-7, 14-12, 11-3.
In the men’s main draw, the top four seeds all advanced to the semi-finals as expected.
Top seed and defending champion Gavin Cumberbatch comfortably dispatched former national champion (2003) and men’s captain Andy Gill, 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 and will now face his younger brother Bryant,  the 2011 men’s champion, in the first semi-final. 
Bryant easily defeated Don Benn 11-1, 11-8, 11-9 in his quarter-final match. 
The other men’s semi-final tonight will pit the second seed and six-time former national champion, Shawn Simpson, who also made it look easy while defeating Mark Gilkes 11-2, 11-5, 11-4. 
The left-handed Simpson’s opponent will be national junior team coach Rhett Cumberbatch, the third Cumberbatch sibling seeded this year in the top four. 
Rhett prevailed in the toughest of the four quarter-finals against former eight-time national champion Mark Sealy who took the fight to his younger opponent, who dropped the first game in a competitive match.  After that wobble, the dreadlocked Cumberbatch never trailed again in any of the next three games and won 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8.
In other matches played in the first round of the men’s plate, Deepu Panjwani and Julian Welch easily defeated their respective opponents, little Marcus Jordan and Ruairidh Mackenzie, in straight games, while Andrew Nunes and veteran squash administrator Craig Archer were both pushed to five games by their respective opponents. 
Nunes squandered a two-game lead before prevailing in five games 11-9, 11-7, 4-11, 4-11, 11-9.  Archer was pushed all the way by the competitive Michael Best but managed to scrape home in a see-saw encounter 17-15, 8-11, 11-9, 1-11, 11-7.  (BA/PR)