Records tumbled on the final day of action at the Barbados Squash Club on Saturday May 20th when the 32nd edition of the annual Barbados National Squash Championships, sponsored by the Barbados Olympic Association, reached its exciting conclusion.
In the ladies final the prohibitive favourite and top seed, Karen Meakins (seen in the upper photo with Shawn Simpson), duly claimed her record sixth consecutive ladies title, all without the loss of a single game, when she defeated the #2 seed, Sonia Perkins, for the fifth straight year in the final 9/2 9/2 9/5. Perkins, who is a former champion jockey, tried hard and never gave up during the 26 minute match but the difference in class between Meakins, the Caribbean?s #2 player, and the rest of the local ladies field is as vast as it has ever been. Punishing length on both wings, coupled with impressive volleys and clinging drops, combined with excellent court coverage gave Meakins the edge early on and she never loosened her stranglehold on the match. The next challenge for the 33 year old local squash champion will be to try to equal the record of 11 total Barbados ladies titles held by Natalie Small (nee Webber).
The Men”s final was a complete contrast and one of the best ever seen and was contested by two players who have grown up competing against each other many times over the past decade at both the junior and now senior level. The 22 year old top seed, Gavin Cumberbatch, who had missed the last four national championships while studying at Yale University where he captained the squash team in his final year, would have started this final quietly confident, since he had convincingly defeated his lanky 22 year old left handed opponent in straight games in the Inter-Club League earlier in the year. On the other hand the #2 seed Shawn Simpson, the two-time defending Men”s champion and national volleyball representative, would have been confident in his own superior fitness and retrieving ability. The match began at a frenetic pace and left the spectators gasping at the weight of shot and the agility and speed about the court of both players. After 22 minutes it was one game all with both games being won at four, but few would have guessed at the drama to follow. The pace slowed, the rallies lengthened and the match began to be a battle of attrition and patience. Although Cumberbatch took the third game in a further 19 minutes it seemed the greater toll had been taken on him, not his opponent. Simpson then never trailed in the fourth game, which he won for the loss of three points. Cumberbatch then tried to pick up the pace once more in the fifth, but Simpson was not fazed and was not to be denied. A spectacular overhead forehand spike into the nick took him to his first match ball at 8-4. Cumberbatch bravely clawed his way back to 7-8 before two winners saw Simpson home 4/9 9/4 6/9 9/3 9/7 in 74 minutes, the longest match in the tournament this year by far. This third successive Men”s title places Simpson in a very select group. Only former national captains and 8-time national champions Rudy Goodridge and Mark Sealy have won three straight Men”s titles in the 32 year history of these championships!
The ladies third place was claimed by #3 Lilianna White who easily defeated the #4 seed and double national junior champion Cheri-Ann Parris in straight games while in the Men”s equivalent, the #3 seed and former 8-time national champion Mark Sealy defeated #4 Marlon White in four games. Fifth seed John Cumberbatch needed five games to defeat Tim O?Neal for fifth place while 16 year old Bo Harris, the #5 ladies seed comfortably defeated fellow junior team member and #6 seed, Nadia McCarthy, in four games in the ladies fifth place match.
Complete results from Day 6 on May 20th were as follows:
Ladies? Final: #1 Karen Meakins defeated #2 Sonia Perkins 9/2 9/2 9/5
Men”s Final: #2 Shawn Simpson defeated #1 Gavin Cumberbatch 4/9 9/4 6/9 9/3 9/7
Ladies? 3rd Place: #3 Lilianna White defeated #4 Cheri-Ann Parris 9/7 9/1 9/6
Men”s 3rd Place: #3 Mark Sealy defeated #4 Marlon White 6/9 9/5 9/2 9/2
Ladies? 5th Place: #5 Bo Harris defeated #6 Nadia McCarthy 9/0 5/9 9/5 9/6
Men”s 5th Place: #5 John Cumberbatch defeated #9 Tim O?Neal 9/2 6/9 2/9 9/5 9/1
Men”s 7th Place: Ian Worrell defeated #10 Alex Garcia 9/1 9/0 9/3
Men”s 9th Place: Fabian Goodridge defeated Craig Archer 9/4 7/9 9/0 9/1
Ladies Plate Final: Tracy Roett defeated Carolyn Last-Johnson 9/2 9/3 9/2
Men”s Plate Final: Cliff Nolan defeated Roger Martin 2/9 9/2 9/3 9/3
At the trophy presentation that followed BOA Secretary General, Erskine Simmons, complimented the players for their fine performances and stated he was very impressed by the standard of squash he had just witnessed. He also wished the Barbados team to the CAC Games in Cartagena, Colombia in July every success. (N.B. A group photo with some of the trophy winners is given above. National Champions Shawn Simpson and Karen Meakins are in the front row centre.)