The keenly anticipated rivalry between the two dominant squash players in Barbados over the last decade will continue this week as the 5-time and current Men’s Champion, Gavin Cumberbatch, is seeded to meet 7-time and former champion, Shawn Simpson, in the final of the 42nd BOA Senior National Squash Championships that served off at the Barbados Squash Club (BSC) courts in Marine Gardens last night.
One or the other of these top seeded men has claimed the national title in eleven out of the past twelve years, and they have met each other in seven men’s finals, but the contrast between these two close friends could not be more stark. Gavin (32) is right handed, gregarious, about average height, with a boxer’s build, and is capable of destroying any opponent on his day with a dazzling array of explosive ground strokes which he can deploy from both wings. He is still the only Barbadian thus far to win the Caribbean men’s title which he did in devastating fashion in 2007 on the hot courts in Kingston, Jamaica. Shawn is also 32 years old but is a left handed, soft spoken, 6 ft. 5 inch giant with a body builder’s physique and an impressively consistent record in both local and regional squash competitions. He is seeded this year at #2 and has reached the local men’s final in 12 of the past 13 years, winning a record five men’s titles in a row between 2004 and 2008, including three straight against Gavin. However, since then Simpson has only won two more titles as Gavin has got the better of him on the last four occasions they have met in the men’s final, including last year which was a rapid 3-0 victory to Gavin.
Incredibly, all three of Gavin’s siblings will be trying to prevent this highly anticipated meeting of these rivals. Both Rhett (28) and Bryant Cumberbatch (27) are seeded at #3/4 and the reigning Barbados and Caribbean Under-15 champion, Khamal Cumberbatch (age 14), who is arguably the most gifted of the four brothers, is seeded at #5/8 along with Mark Sealy (8-times former men’s champion), Stewart St. John and Don Benn.
On the Ladies side local squash queen, Karen Meakins the 2010, 2014 and 2015 Caribbean champion, is seeded once again at #1 and will be striving to hold off the opposition once again and claim an amazing 16th straight national title. Her main opposition this year will be the new faces of local junior squash. Seeded at #2, Amanda Haywood, the Caribbean Under-17 champion will be looking to reach her first national senior final after an astounding run at the Caribbean Squash Championships in August last year where she finished fifth and played unbeaten in the #2 spot on the ladies senior team. The local U-15 and U-17 champion and the 2015 Caribbean GU-15 champion, Meagan Best is seeded at #3/4 along with Muffin Stollmeyer, but Best is in the top half of the draw and will have to vanquish Meakins in the semi-finals to get another crack at Haywood in the ladies final after defeating her soundly 3-0 in the local GU-17 final that was held less than three weeks ago.
In the action played last night in the 1st round of the Ladies and Men’s Individual competitions at the BSC the following matches were played:
Ladies 1st Round
Lynn deCambra-McLeod (d) Chelsie Samuel (3-0) 12-10, 11-5, 11-9
Sumairaa Suleman (d) Jodi Smith-Padmore (3-0) 12-10, 11-4, 11-7
Jada Smith-Padmore (d) Alison Smith-Padmore (3-0) 11-4, 11-6, 11-1
Men’s 1st Round
Zaki Williams (d) Ryan Archer (3-0) 11-5, 11-8, 11-3
Deepu Panjwani (d) Alex Stewart (3-0) 11-6, 11-5, 11-5
Leon Truss (d) Darien Benn (3-0) 11-8, 11-7, 11-8
Craig Archer (d) Kemar Lord (3-0) 11-7, 11-9, 11-9
Both the ladies and men’s competitions continue this week Tuesday to Thursday evening at the BSC starting at 5:30 p.m. All finals will be contested on Saturday afternoon, April 9th. Admission to the public is free.