Saturday, April 13, 2024

Squash glory

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Barbados’ team returned home yesterday to a heroes’ welcome with family, friends and fans at the Grantley Adams International Airport celebrating one of the best performances at the Caribbean Junior Squash Championships.
Not since 2002 have Barbados won three gold medals, with Meagan Best taking the Under-13 girls’ title; Khamal Cumberbatch, the Under-13 boys’ crown and Gylla Mackenzie capturing the Under-17 girls’ championships in Trinidad and Tobago.  
Amanda Haywood took the silver in the Under-15 girls’ competition and both the boys’ and girls’ teams took bronze by topping hosts Trinidad and Tobago.
Coach Rhett Cumberbatch said he was extremely proud of the performance. In his first stint as coach in 2012, the girls placed sixth and the boys seventh.  
“The discipline and hard work where we worked one-on-one with these talented players proved to be a winning formula,” he added.
“With just one player moving on and the remainder of players remaining in their present age groupings, we shall be aiming for team gold for both the boys and girls next year.”
Assistant manager Michael Best said every effort would be made to get the successful teams to take part in the United States Open later in the year.  
“It might be rather late but that would be an opportunity to help develop and get our players to another level of performance and success,” said Best.
Caribbean champions Khamal Cumberbatch, Best and Mackenzie were all very pleased with their performances in capturing gold.  
Cumberbatch, who captained West Terrace to second place in the Bico Primary School Football Competition this year, felt great to match his elder siblings Gavin, Rhett and Bryant in winning regional squash titles.
“I want to even surpass what my brothers have done in squash, and although I play football, I prefer squash as it is a game which I have played my entire life,” said Cumberbatch, who will be entering The St Michael School in September.
Best will also be entering St Michael and said she wanted to retain her title at next year’s tournament which will be staged in either Bermuda or the Caymans Islands.  
Mackenzie took up squash seven years ago after moving to Barbados.
“I have just completed my CXCs at St Winifred and I am entering the Barbados Community College where I want to continue my academics and sports success.
“It has never been a challenge for me to balance sports and academics since I have been playing squash almost every day for the past seven years and then I return home and get down to my books,” said Mackenzie.
President of the Barbados Squash Association (BSA) Craig Archer, who met the players, said the BSA was now reaping the fruits of investing in the youth in order to guarantee the continued growth and success of squash at the local, regional and international level.

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