Hunger to succeed drives Guyana's Ashley Khalil to first Caribbean Squash Singles title

By August 31, 2022
Ashley with the trophies she won at the Caribbean Squash Championships and with her brother at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. She won her first singles title at the Caribbean Championships. Ashley with the trophies she won at the Caribbean Squash Championships and with her brother at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England. She won her first singles title at the Caribbean Championships. Ashley Khalil

After years of coming up short, an insatiable hunger drove Ashley Khalil to her first ever Caribbean Senior Squash Singles title in Jamaica last week.

The 29-year-old Khalil, who spreads her time between running two businesses and her squash career, came from a set down to defeat compatriot Taylor Fernandez 9-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 to win her first singles title.

She would later team up with Ashley DeGroot to win the Women’s Doubles as Guyana walked away with the Women’s team title and gave Ashley a hold on three trophies for the championships that concluded at the Liguanea Club in Kingston last Saturday, August 27.

She explained that after at least four previous failed attempts, her incredible desire to win helped her push to the title.

“I think what made this year different was the fact that squash had been off for such a long time due to Covid. Also, I was unable to play Caribbean Championships in 2019 due to injury and after therapy and recovery and Covid, I came back stronger and hungry for the title,” she said while revealing an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

“I am over-joyed to have this title under my belt, especially with this being my first time to even make it into the finals of this competition,” she said.

Khalil headed into the championships more prepared than she had been in previous years. With Covid restrictions being relaxed across the globe, she had the opportunity to shake off the rust and get back to playing close to her best squash.

“I started back training at the beginning of this year after being off due to Covid. In April, I participated and won a bronze medal in the Women’s team event of the Pan Am Championships in Guatemala,” said.

“A few months later I got some experience at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham where I secured a silver medal in the Mixed Doubles Consolation with my younger brother.

“With such high levels of squash and gaining experience and knowledge throughout each competition I was able to come out to the Caribbean Championships with a focused mindset.”

Still, having never won before her expectations were tempered by reality.

“Going into this tournament I was expecting to do well, especially having a few bronze medals from previous Caribbean Championships, but I don’t think it actually sunk in that I could possibly win it even though I was going in as the number-one seed,” she explained while revealing that among the toughest opponents she faced during the tournament was her own countrywomen.

“It is always difficult playing your country mates,” she said.

“We play so often at home that we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses so every match against a teammate is a tough one. I had to ensure I came out strong from the first point.”

She won her second title with DeGroot and said that the two share good chemistry.

“This is actually our second tournament playing doubles together. We previously won bronze at the CAC Games in 2014,” she said.

 “Ashley and I have pretty good chemistry. We are very close friends off the court and that makes it a bit easier on court. We also know when to leave the shot for the other or to assist if need be.”

Ashley Khalil might have just won her first Caribbean singles title but she has had tremendous success at national and regional levels.

In her two decades playing the sport, after making her junior debut at 11, Khalil won her first Junior Caribbean title at age 14. She won a second Junior title at the U19 level when she was just 17.

She was a U15, U17 and U19 national champion in both squash and badminton and was Junior Sportswoman of the Year in 2007.

She also won silver and bronze medals at the Junior Pan Am Championships as well as bronze medals at the CAC Championships and South American Games.


Leighton Levy

Leighton Levy is a journalist with 28 years’ experience covering crime, entertainment, and sports. He joined the staff at SportsMax.TV as a content editor two years ago and is enjoying the experience of developing sports content and new ideas. At he is pursuing his true passion - sports.

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