Mixed fortunes for squash juniors
Barbados’ top junior squash players all played very well but just missed out on podium finishes in the 2014 Canadian Junior Squash Open which reached its climax on Tuesday evening at the spectacular White Oaks Resort in Niagara-on-the-Lake in the province of Ontario.
Three of the four Barbadian participants played at least once on finals day Tuesday, with Barbados and Caribbean champion Khamal Cumberbatch, who was only seeded here at five, losing to Australia’s Ethan Eyles, 11-4, 11-5, 4-11, 11-5 in 26 minutes in the Boys Under-13 semi-final. Eyles is coached by his Australian father, the former World Open Squash Champion and World No.2 Rodney Eyles.
It was a tough day for Cumberbatch, who then played off for third place yesterday against the other third seed, Canadian Salaheldin Eltorgman, but lost in four close games, 8-11, 9-11, 11-2, 11-13 and therefore finished fourth.
This was a creditable result, since Cumberbatch was only seeded to reach the quarter-finals. Eyles lost in straight games in the final to the top seeded Canadian Abdelrahman Dweek.
Barbadians Meagan Best and Amanda Haywood, the current Barbados and Caribbean Girls Under-13 and Under-15 champions respectively, both easily won their two matches in the Consolation draw without dropping a game.
Both juniors can be very proud of the fact that despite not being seeded by the event organisers they defeated several opponents that were ranked higher than them, and, in an amazing coincidence, both lost in their respective quarter-finals to the player who went on to win that particular age group.
Haywood beat Canada’s Amelia Knapp 3-0 in the third round of the consolation draw and then beat fifth seed Bethany Churchill, another Canadian, 11-9, 11-4, 12-10 in the quarter-finals. In the consolation semi-final, she dispatched Colombia’s Maria Paula Moya Lopez 11-6, 11-8, 11-6, but then went down in a tense five-game match in the final to third seeded Italian Dina Anguiano, who won 11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-4 and finished in fifth position in the competition with Haywood finishing in sixth.
The event was won by Marina Stefanoni of the United States.
In the Girls Under-13 consolation draw, Best proved to be the most impressive Bajan on show, cutting through the field like a hot knife through butter and playing five matches, winning them all 3-0. She only gave up a maximum of sixteen points in any of those encounters.
After dispatching Alessia Ferris of the home country 11-4, 11-7, 11-2, the powerful Best then overran another Canadian, Molly Chadwick, who was seeded at three, 11-3, 11-3, 11-6.
Best then blitzed another Canadian, Maya Mansoor, the fifth seed 11-3, 11-1, 11-4, before wrapping up a successful four days of competition by overcoming Lucie Stefanoni of the United States, also in straight games 11-5, 11-2, 11-9 to finish in fifth place overall.
The winner of this age category was the top- seeded Canadian, Lucia Bicknell, who won all of her matches 3-0 apart from her quarter-final showdown with Best, who took the first two games before Lucia pulled back from the brink to win in five nail-biting games.
Craig Archer, president of the Barbados Squash Association, was delighted with the performance of the trio.
“Our kids have proven that they are competitive with some of the best in this region, and their next challenge will be in the US Junior Open next week . . . ,” Archer said.