‘I had confidence she would do it’- Coach Ince on Fernandes’ Pan Am gold
It was gruelling no doubt, but in the grand scheme of competitive action, it was like taking candy from a child for star player Nicolette Fernandes, who dominated Laura Tovar to win the Women’s Singles at the Pan American Squash Championship on Wednesday evening in Guatemala.
To add further context to the significance of the feat for the 38-year-old Fernandes, the 25-year-old Colombian was the tournament’s number-one seed, as is ranked 104 in the world.
More so, in getting to the final which she won quite emphatically 11-9, 11-4, 11-5, Fernandes had to defeat the tournament’s number-two seed, Hannah Blatt of Canada, a clear show of the pedigree of the Guyanese.
The superlatives to describe the output of the retired professional player might be endless, just like her pedigree and natural ability, which had enthused her long-time coach, Carl Ince, she would deliver gold.
“Nicolette is outstanding; she knew what she had to do and went out there and did it,” the veteran coach exuberantly stated in an invited comment.
“I knew from her performance leading up to the finals that this was within her grasp, and I was confident she would give her all and bring home the trophy. I have always admired her discipline, her determination, and her spirit and am so pleased to see her on top in her performance- she is an inspiration to athletes in Guyana and around the world,” the coach further elaborated.
Tovar could not take the pace of Fernandes cross courts or cover the court fast enough for her precise placement.
With a few full-length dives Fernandes kept the ball in play on many occasions when it looked out of reach and was back in the rallies to dominate, hitting some tight shots and forcing weak returns.
She constantly kept her opponent turning and forcing her into the back corners waiting for the perfect opportunity for the ‘kill’.
Guyana will now turn its attention to the team segment which commenced Thursday, in a bid to qualify for the Central American and Caribbean Games. The top eight Women and top ten Males teams will gain automatic qualification.
The other members of Team Guyana are Alex Arjoon, Kristian Jeffrey, Jason-Ray Khalil, Samuel Ince-Carvalhal, Ashley Khalil, Mary Fung-A-Fat and Gabrielle Fraser.
The players return home on Sunday.