Junior Squash players return with bright smiles, enthusiasm to improve
By Akeem Greene
Warm hugs from family members and overwhelming applause greeted members of the National Junior Squash team who returned on Sunday from a successful week at the Junior Caribbean Championships in Trinidad and Tobago.
For the third consecutive year, the 12-time champions finished second overall to Barbados. The boys, as expected, won gold, while the girls had to settle for bronze. They had to endure a significant setback with Caribbean Under-17 champion Abosaide Cadogan having to return to Guyana for one day during the team matches.
Commenting on the team’s performance exclusively to News Room Sport at the Cheddi Jagain International Airport, David Fernandes, President of the Guyana Squash Association (GSA), stated, “We had a fantastic tour; all of the youths played really well. Out of the 10 individual goals, we won four, Barbados four, Trinidad won one, and St Lucia one.”
He added: “Abosaide had to leave us for one day which weaken our team a little and we had to play two ties against Jamaica and Bermuda, but the girls played extremely well to finish third. The boys played extremely well, we really have a strong boys team, I don’t think there is no team that can match the boys team.”
Fernandes hoped that team continues to train hard and he envisions they will do better next year where they could possibly go all the way and regain the Caribbean crown.
Given the youth of the team and the fading ages of the opposition, the GSA head firmly believes Guyana stand an extremely good chance to return top of Caribbean squash.
Head Coach Carl Ince echoed similar sentiments: “Looking at everything I thought we would have won everything this year, but we had a little setback with Abosaide which prevented the girls from getting to the finals. I feel certain having just missing it this year, next year they will do so much better, I think we will make it.”
Ince further noted that a hallmark of the team was the display of teachings from the training camps, especially with regards to having patience during tense moments.
Dreams become reality
Cadogan, Shomari Wiltshire (U-17), Kirsten Gomes (U-15) and Michael Alphonso (U-15) won individual titles. Apart from Wiltshire, who won his fifth Caribbean title, and Alphonso, his second, Gomes and Cadogan were first time winners, a feat they once dreamt of.
“I am very happy for myself and team, even though we didn’t win overall, we played very well. If we train very hard this year, we can regain the title (next year),” Cadogan said.
Cadogan, ranked the number two seed in the tournament, won her first Caribbean title when she bested compatriot Madison Fernandes 11-7, 13-11, 11-4. It was the second all-Guyanese final at the event. Alphonso and Nicholas Verwey played the U-15 final.
“I was very proud of Madison because she was not training a lot but she played extremely well in the tournament. I just felt very happy I got to play her in the final since I was accustomed to playing her in Guyana, and it was a very good match.”
For Gomes, her battle was more attritional as it went the full distance against Barbadian Sumairaa Suleman. The game ended 4-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8.
“I feel really excited and overwhelmed. I did not believe that I actually won. I feel like I put in all the hard work and it payed off. I was very nervous (in the final). It was very exciting match, after I got the nerves out the way, I fought very hard to bring home the match.”
Gomes hopes she can continue to reap Caribbean title success.
The cool and collective Wiltshire, who many expected would have delivered a title, said this was the hardest due it being a higher age group, and it means he savours this most of all titles. He added that it was a psychological battle with Darien Benn in the final, but he kept calm to ensure he was victorious.
The 2020 edition of the championships is slated for the island of Bermuda. Additionally, GSA expressed immense gratitude for the support of sponsors E-Networks, Bounty Farms Limited, MVP Sports located at Giftland Mall, Fatboy 100% Coconut Water, KFC and Innovations America.