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Barbados the champs


Barbados the champs

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REGIONAL SQUASH GLORY is Barbados’ once more.

Home court did prove to be an advantage after all, as the ultramarine and gold triumphantly regained the team title at the 22nd Senior Caribbean Squash Championships after barely holding off Trinidad for the top spot yesterday at Marine Gardens.

The overall trophy was the fourth in five years for team Barbados, who despairingly handed over the crown to Guyana last year to break up a run of three championships in succession.

But defeat this time would have hurt even more, with the Bajans expected to use a buoyant home crowd to their advantage while Guyana fielded a weakened squad this time around.

However, Trinidad only officially gave up the ghost in the day’s very last tie, with Guyana surging to an unassailable 3-1 lead in the men’s final to leave the Trinis two points short of Barbados’ overall tally of 24.

“It’s a magnificent feeling and it’s nice to reclaim it on home soil,” said local squash president Craig Archer.

“There were just excellent results today from all three teams.”

None was more pivotal, though, than that of the men, who fell behind 2-1 against the OECS before heroically bouncing back to win the final two matches and thus the third-place tie 3-2.

With captain Shawn Simpson and Barbados No. 3 Rhett Cumberbatch both losing their matches, all the pressure was placed on the shoulders of Mark Gilkes in his crucial match against Jason Doyle.

And the Bajan No. 4 duly delivered, having eeked out an 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-8 thriller in arguably one of the championships’ best matches, before former national champ Gavin Cumberbatch predictably swept Othneil Kevin Bailey 11-7, 11-4, 11-4.

“I felt confident in the two remaining ties even though we were down 2-1 because I always believed our next two players were capable of winning their matches,” said Simpson. “That fourth match went down to the wire and that was nerve-wrecking but my guy held on and he’s been consistent throughout, so kudos to him.”

There were no such nervous moments for the veterans after the seasoned campaigners strolled to their division title by blasting Trinidad 5-0.

Led by Mark Sealy, the side featuring Andy Gill, Leon Truss, Kristina Evelyn and Ruth Deane-Webster did not drop a single game.

Barbados were rather unfortunate not to have added the women’s title to that tally, even after Nadia McCarthy’s gallant 9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-3 comeback win was rendered meaningless when the hosts fell into a 3-1 hole.

Alex Jordan and Amanda Haywood suffered early losses, but regional women’s queen Karen Meakins rallied to beat “Tiney Chiney” Mary Fung-A-Fat 8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-7 in a rematch of the ladies’ final.

However, Muffin Stollmeyer’s courageous fightback fell just short as Larissa Wiltshire held on for a gripping 11-8, 11-8, 7-11, 3-11, 11-7 victory despite getting cut just above her left eye.

“It was always going to be tough, even though they were missing their top two players because we too were missing a couple very strong players. So I think that kind of evened it out a little bit,” said Meakins.

“It really is disappointing to lose at home but the first couple of matches could’ve gone either way.”