Julian Morrison and Mary Mahfood were crowned national champions of Jamaica as the 2023 Jamaica Squash Association Senior Squash Championships came to a conclusion in Kingston on Saturday.

Morrison rallied from a game down to win a four-game thriller against Ashante Smith at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston to win his second national title. Morrison won 6-111, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7.

Meanwhile, Mahfood claimed her second consecutive title after making quick work of Lauren Mahfood, 11-3, 11-5, 11-5, in the encounter that lasted less than 30 minutes.

The top-seed Morrison advanced to the final by defeating number-three seed Bruce Burrowes in a stirring battle 11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 11-4 on Friday night. Smith, meantime, the number-six seed shut out second-seed Tahjia Lumley 11-7, 11-4, 11-7.

Mahfood enjoyed a much easier route to the final steamrolling number-three seed Savannah Thompson 11-2, 11-5, 11-1 in her semi-final.

In contrast, Lauren was forced to dig deep to overcome Sanjana Nallapati, the fourth-seed in a five-game battle royal 11-8, 7-11, 11-8, 11-13, 13-11.

Jamaica Squash Association president Karen Anderson says her tenure as regional vice president of the Caribbean for the Federation of Pan-American Squash board, will be used to forge new partnerships, as well as to strengthen to federation's governance structure to drive growth and improve the region's competitiveness in the sport.

Anderson, who is currently serving a second term at the helm of the Jamaica Squash Association, was recently appointed second in command of the Caribbean for the Federation of Pan-American Squash board during an election in Santiago, Chile. Her four-year term began earlier this November.

She welcomes the new position and is ready to stamp her ideas on the association for the betterment of the sport locally and regionally.

"It is a true honour to serve the Caribbean on the Federation of Pan-American Squash board. We shall be directing policy for squash in the region over the next four years which is a great opportunity and great time as Olympics is in that five-year window, so it really will shape and determine the policy for squash in the region," Anderson said.

Anderson is an accomplished squash player, who represented Jamaica up until recently. As a professional player she attained a career high world ranking of number 94 in 2005. She joined the Women's Squash Players Association in the same year. She is a squash coach locally and has guided many players to national and regional representation.

She is currently leading the charge for the Jamaica Squash Association to attain full charitable status and be known as Jamaica Squash, along with an aggressive governance transformation with the expectation of a more robust organization financially and competitively in the region and beyond, to include qualifying players for the 2028 Olympics where squash will feature as a new sport on the schedule.

"It will factor and feature in a number of things such as referring (and) coaching, so we are very excited and looking forward to see how we can forge some partnerships with our other counterparts in the region to really grow and strengthen our governance structure and our competitiveness in the region but on an international scale as well. I am really looking forward to the next four years as regional VP for the Caribbean on the Federation of Pan-American Squash board," Anderson noted.

The only other Jamaican to serve on the Federation of Pan-American Squash board is Douglas Beckford.

After being re-elected president of Jamaica Squash Association, Karen Anderson is intent on building on the platform laid from her previous term to ensure the continued growth and development of the sport locally.

Anderson, who took the reins of the sporting body last year, was returned for second one-year term which she said represents an opportunity to achieve certain personal ambitions and, by extension, bring visions for the sports progression, to fruition.

To that end, she hopes to finish the governance process of a name change, among other things by mid-2024, as well as to possibly hire a Technical director to assist in the country’s competitiveness at various tournaments.

“As you know, a few years ago all sporting bodies were encouraged to become charitable entities, which is an arduous process and it's also quite expensive, so we had put off for quite a while. But part of my mandate and my manifesto was to do that aspect of it, to become a charitable entity,” Anderson told Sportsmax.tv.

“So, the first resolution spoke to the association becoming a charitable entity; the second one spoke to a name change from Jamaica Squash Association to Jamaica Squash Limited trading as Jamaica Squash and then the third one was to the approval of current constitution of Jamaica's Association subsumed by Articles of Incorporation, which is what governs charitable bodies. So, all of the resolutions were passed and passed unanimously,” she added.

While Anderson reveled in the success of the country’s junior and senior teams at their respective Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) tournament recently, she noted areas in which the country can improve to become more formidable on the regional stage and the appointment of a technical director, she believes is a key component.

“Based on some of the things we saw last year, we added a strength and conditioning coach as a fitness element. All of the juniors and seniors worked with this strength and conditioning coach to get them up to standard and we saw a marked improvement in that and that's something that we're actually going to continue to do,” Anderson shared.

“We have also seen the success of other Caribbean countries that have technical directors and that’s a significant way to increase our competitiveness within the region. We haven't identified the person yet because we need to identify the money first, but we believe that we can turn some of our silver and bronze medals into gold and maybe start to contend and be part of the top two in the region.

“As I've said to the players, if we can't compete and be competitive in this region which is the Caribbean region, then there's no point even trying to take it outside of the Caribbean. Because you need to be able to do it at home first and home for me is the Caribbean. So, that's really where we're looking. It's expensive, but we believe that is direction that we have to go in,” she reasoned.

That said, Anderson, a former National and Caribbean singles champion, pointed out that starting a school programme is also high on her agenda to not only widen the sport’s reach but also the pool from which players are selected for national duties.

“Currently, if you can hit the ball you almost can he selected. We want the kids to fight for a spot so that they become more competitive and learn how to win. So those are the areas that we're going to focus on to improve on some of those results. I would also love to be able to host a Professional Squash tournament attracting the world’s best players to play in Jamaica,” she declared.

Anderson’s executive committee includes Joey Levy, vice president, Gill Binnie, secretary and Deanne Pryce, treasurer. Committee

members are Douglas Beckford, Nathlee Boreland, and Tahjia Lumley.

The Jamaica Squash Association's annual general meeting (AGM) is set to take place on Thursday at 6:00 pm at its home base at the Liguanea Club in Kingston.

The primary decision on the agenda is the resolution to change the name to Jamaica Squash Limited, a charitable entity trading as Jamaica Squash. Amendments to the constitution are also expected to be discussed and approved.

The AGM will also see the the election of officers. The current executive committee members are Karen Anderson - president, Joey Levy - vice president, Gill Binnie - secretary, Deanne Pryce - treasurer, and committee members Douglas Beckford, Nathlee Boreland, Tahjia Lumley, Julian Morrison, Bruce Burrowes, and Stephen Dear.

Morrison, Burrowes, and Dear indicated that they would not be returning to the committee after the AGM.

The unwavering commitment to task, team spirit and the desire to stand out, were the unifying threads linking Guyana's tale of overachievement at the just-concluded Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Senior Championship at the North Sound Courts in the Cayman Islands.

Simply put, the Guyanese left nothing to chance and now they are reveling in the fact that they not only retained the overall championship but had a host of other accolades that sweetened the deal in what was a clear demonstration of the gulf in class –certainly on this occasion –between them and their regional counterparts. 

Along with the overall title, Guyana also clinched the men’s and women’s team events, as well as the men’s and women’s vets’ titles. They also finished tops in the women’s doubles thanks to Ashely Khalil and Ashley de Groot, and in the men’s and women’s over 40 contest courtesy of Jeranzo Bell and Nicolette Fernandes respectively. 

"After a week of intense competition, we are incredibly proud that the blood, sweat and tears that went into putting Guyana back on that top podium once more, proved worthwhile," Guyana squash said in a social media post.

"Our successes become more meaningful when we have a massive community backing us every step of the way. Thanks to our coach Ramon [Chan-A-Sue] and the family and friends of Guyana squash for your endless support. Also, our sponsors without whom, none of this would be possible. Your contributions towards our team success would never go unrecognized," the post added.

In key team final matches, Guyana defeated hosts Cayman Islands 3-2 on their way to the men’s title, while their female counterparts, had a come-from-behind 3-1 win over Barbados for the women’s honours.

The Guyanese had earlier captured the women’s doubles gold through Khalil and de Groot, who bettered the host pair of Jade Pitcarin and Marlene West, but Fernandes and Khalil had to settle for silver and bronze in the women’s singles behind Barbadian Margot Prow.

Another Barbadian Khamal Cumberbatch topped the men's singles event, ahead of homeboy Cameron Stafford with another home player Julian Jervis, edging Guyana's Alex Arjoon for bronze.

Stafford and Jervis later teamed up to stop Cumberbatch and Shaw Simpson, in the men’s doubles final. Jamaica's Bruce Burrowes and Julian Morris took bronze.

Jamaica's duo of Tahjia Lumley and Jessica Davies, topped the mixed doubles contest, leaving Guyana's Jason-Ray Khalil and Fernandes to settle for silver. The Bajan pair of Darien Benn and Jada Smith-Padmore claimed bronze.

It was always expected to be two hard-fought encounters to decide the Men’s and Women’s Singles titles at the 28th edition of the Senior Caribbean Championships, and both lived up to billing, as the Barbados pair of Khamal Cumberbatch and Margot Prow claimed top honours in Cayman Islands on Tuesday.

Cumberbatch and Cameron Stafford of the hosts nation entered the one-week tournament as top seeds in the men’s draw and, so it was no surprise that they locked horns in a keenly contested best-of-five final, which the former won 3-2.

The ding-dong battle which lasted 47 minutes, saw Stafford winning the first game 11-6, before Cumberbatch rallied to win the second 11-3. The Cayman Islands top man again found himself in front winning the third game 11-9, but Cumberbatch asserted authority in the last two games to win 11-9, 11-3.

Predictions were that the women’s showpiece would have been an all-Guyana battle between Nicolette Fernandes and Ashley Khalil, but Prow had other ideas, as she bettered Khalil in the semi-final to set up the gold medal battle with Fernandes.

And the Bajan proved superior to her Guyanese counterpart in the Best-of-five final, registering a 3-1 win. She won the first set 11-7, before Fernandes rallied to take the second 11-9, but Prow, like her compatriot Cumberbatch, showed class at the backend to win the next two games 11-9 and 11-7.

Earlier, Julian Jervis and Stafford, handed Cayman Islands the Men’s Doubles gold medal, as they battled to a come-from-behind 11-7, 11-5 win over the Barbadian pair of Cumberbatch and Shawn Simpson in an entertaining finale. Cumberbatch and Simpson won the first set 7-11.

To get to the finals, both pairs had to endure almost hour-long battles in their respective semi-final encounters, Cumberbatch and Simpson moreso, as they had to come from behind to better the Jamaican pair of Bruce Burrowes and Julian Morrison 11-9, 11-8, after losing the first set 9-11.

While the Cayman duo’s battle against Guyana’s Daniel Ince and Jason-Ray Khalil lasted 48 minutes, they won 2-0 with scores of 11-9, 11-10.

In the Women’s Doubles, Guyana secured gold courtesy of top seeded Ashley Khalil and Ashley De Groot, who justified favouritism with a come-from-behind 11-5, 11-9 win over the second seeded Cayman Islands pair of Jade Pitcarin and Marlene West, who won the opening set 11-4.

Khalil and De Groot had earlier bettered Barbadians Karen Meakins and Margot Prow 11-5, 5-11, 11-5 in a competitive three-set battle lasting just over half-hour, while Pitcarin and West got by the Jamaican duo of Karen Anderson and Mia Todd, 11-9, 11-6.

Jamaica’s Tahjia Lumley and Jessica Davis copped the Mixed Doubles title by virtue of a walkover. The reason for such an outcome remains unclear, as the Jamaicans were expected to face the number two seeded Guyanese pair of Jason-Ray Khalil and Nicolette Fernandes in the showpiece event.

After entering the event as the number five seed, the Jamaicans registered an 11-5, 11-2 win over the Trinidad and Tobago pair of Anthony Allum and Faith Gillezeau, and later scored a two-set 11-5, 11-5 win over top seeded pair of Alex Frazer and Michaela Rensburg of the host nation, on their way to the final.

Meanwhile, Khalil and Fernandes bettered the Barbadian pair of Darien Benn and Jada Smith-Padmore 11-5, 11-8, on their way to the final.

The tournament continues with team action on Wednesday.

The bar was raised for Bermuda’s team to the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Junior Championships and Head coach Micah Franklin believes they not only cleared it, but more importantly, exceeded all expectations.

For Franklin, who has ambitions to expand squash in Bermuda, the performance of the team, which was the largest ever fielded by the British Overseas Territory, augurs well for the future of the sport, provided they remain consistent. 

Barbados reclaimed the overall team title, they last won in 2021, as they outclassed and dethroned Guyana in both boys and girls team finals at the just concluded tournament in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Franklin admits that his 17-member team of nine boys and eight girls, lacked the experience and calibre of the top two nations, which is why their third and fourth place finishes in the respective categories were even more rewarding.

“I think that the team performed well beyond what I expected from them and when you take into account the fact that the top two nations Barbados and Guyana are way above us at the moment, it makes our coming third place in the boys’ category and fourth place on the girls’ side, a really great accomplishment,” Franklin told Sportsmax.tv.

“So, I’m very pleased with all of my players’ performances. They fought hard in difficult conditions and gave me everything. As a coach that’s all I can ask for. I was pleased with the manner in which they represented themselves and their country with pride and honour,” he added.

Franklin, a former player, who was Bermuda’s flagbearer at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, is excited about the prospects, particularly where the players’ continued development and progress is concerned.

This, as Mason Smith won Bermuda’s first Under-11 medal, while Benjamin Sherratt, Somers Stevenson, and Owen Rosorea, were all runners-up in their respective categories, fulfilling their own personal goals.

“Every player went in with separate aspirations and some of them were able to achieve those objectives which is a huge step in the right direction and for sure we expect Mason, Benjamin, Somers, Owen and others to keep progressing over time, as they continue to transition from one each group to the next,” Franklin shared.

On that note, he declared an unwavering desire to steer Bermuda Squash onto a new path, and the outstanding display by the team at CASA, has solidified the platform on which to do that.

“Based off of the results I see a bright future for Bermuda squash. Our younger age groups have given me a lot of hope in the next generation because like I said before, the overall goal and ambition for Bermuda Squash is to achieve full inclusion from all ages, races and genders. We want to prioritize squash first and let everything else fall into place,” Franklin noted.

While he continues to do the groundwork, the coach said the players can get some much-needed rest and recovery before their next assignment.

“After the much-deserved break, we will kick things back in the fall. We will be looking to send a group of players to the United States and Canadian Junior opens, where we hope to continue building on the momentum, we have achieved so far this year,” Franklin ended.

After copping four gold medals in the singles age-group finals, Barbados added two more to their tally, as they won both the Boys’ and Girls’ doubles finals at the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Junior Championships in St Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday.

Aidan Parris and Under-19 silver medallist Alex Stewart outlasted the Jamaican pair of Tobias Levy and Lukas Thomson in what was a strategic and tactical Boys’ showpiece, which could have gone either way. The Jamaicans won a closely contested opening set 11-9, but the Barbadian pair maintained their composure best for the next two sets which they won 11-5, 11-5 to secure the championship.

It was a similar situation on the Girls’ side of action, where the highly-rated Sumairaa Suleman, who won the Girls’ Under-19 final, partnered with Under-17 champion Eboni Atherley to defeat Jamaica’s Katherine Risden and Savannah Thomson and claim supremacy in the female category.

In fact, it was a first ever Girls’ championship doubles win for Barbados, and they claimed it in entertaining fashion. Though Suleman and Atherley won by two sets 11-9, 11-8, it was two closely contested affairs, which the Risden and Thomson could have prolonged, but they struggled to limit unforced errors throughout and that proved their undoing.

Meanwhile, the Jamaicans, who bounced back strongly from contrasting singles performances where they won one silver and two bronze medals, also challenged for the Mixed doubles title by way of Alex Chin and Under-17 girls silver medallist Sanjana Nallapati.

However, it was Guyana’s Under-19 pair of Nicolas Verwey and Kirsten Gomes, who won gold and silver in their respective age group finals, that came out victorious in a contest where the Jamaicans were again plagued by errors.

The Guyanese pair won 11-8, 11-7 to add a fourth gold to their tally. The defending overall champions have now won four gold, three silver and three bronze heading into the team competition, scheduled to begin on Thursday.

Las year's runners-up Barbados has six gold medals and a silver on their cards heading in, while the Jamaicans tally now stands at four silver and two bronze.

Guyana is on course to retain the overall title at the ongoing Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Junior Championships, having already secured a number of individual medals, which speaks volumes of their current vein of form heading into the Team and Doubles segment of the tournament in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Guyanese team which last year got hands on the overall championship for the first time since 2015 –after surrendering the 2017 and 2019 editions to Barbados –are now hunting a 14th overall lien on the crown.  

They once enjoyed a streak of 12-consecutive wins, which was ended by the Barbadians, but if their form is anything to go by thus far, then they are on the verge of starting another streak.

Guyana have so far secured individual gold medals through Nicholas Verwey in the boys’ Under-19, Louis Da Silva, the boys’ Under-17 champion and Under-15 queen Avery Arjoon.

Kaylee Lowe, in the girls’ Under-13, Mohryan Baksh in the boys’ Under-17 and Kirsten Gomes in girls’ Under-19 category, all secured silver medals, while Ethan Bulkan in boys’ Under-11, Justin Ten Pow in the boys’ under-13 and Michael Alphonso in the boys’ Under-19, added bronze medal to the country’s tally.

The individual finals got under way with Bermuda’s Mason Smith and Benjamin Sherratt snaring gold and silver in the boys’ Under-11, following contrasting victories of Savante Padmore of the host nation and Bulkan. Mason bettered Padmore in three sets 11-3, 11-0, 11-3, while Sherratt required four sets to get by Bulkan.

After losing the first set, 11-8, Sherratt recovered the win the next three 11-9, 11-3 and 11-5 in a match that lasted 28 minutes.

Both Smith and Sherratt then required 23 minutes to settle business among themselves, with the former winning 16-14, 11-8, 11-7.

The boys’ Under-13 category was topped by Barbadian Ben Shepherd, who stamped his class in an 18-minute contest against US Virgin Islands’ Ethan Mohamed. He posted comfortable 11-1, 11-5 and 11-3 wins, while Ten Pow registered 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 against Levi Jack in the third-place encounter.

The host nation was not to be outdone in the boys’ Under-15 category, which was won by Jayden George, who scored a three set 11-5, 11-3, 11-1 win over Bermuda’s Owen Rosorea. Daniel Sealy of Barbados won the third-place contest 11-4, 11-2, 11-8 over Charlie Makin of Bermuda.

After enduring two highly competitive semi-final contest against Vincentian Jaydon Williams and Andrew Cox of Bermuda, Da Silva and Baksh battled out a pulsating boys’ Under-17 final.

Da Silva won the almost hour-long four set showpiece 17-15, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7. Prior to that, he defeated Williams in five sets 6-11, 11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-7 in a 54-minute-long match, while Baksh was comfortable 15-13, 11-4, 11-5 victor over Cox in less than half-hour.

Verwey was also comfortable in victory in the boys’ Under-19 gold medal match in which he bettered Barbadian Alex Stewart in straight sets 12-10, 11-1, 11-6.

Alphonso, who lost his semi-final contest to Stewart, bounced back to defeat, British Virgin Islands Jace Jervis, who had earlier succumbed to Verwey, in the third-place match. Alphonso won the five-set encounter 12-10, 11-7, 11-7, after losing the first two sets 13-15, 8-11.

On the girls’ side of action, Trinidad and Tobago’s Gia Ghuran won the Under-11 gold medal, following a 14 minute 11-5, 11-7, 11-5 win over Delilah Grace Pease of British Virgin Island, while Bermuda’s Taylor Kyme defeated Barbadian Peyton Marshall-Brancker 11-1, 11-2, 11-9 in the bronze medal match.

Lenna Hamati of Barbados copped the girls’ Under-13 top medal in a four-set match with Lowe which ended, 11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-2. Bermuda’s McKenna Kyme won the bronze with an 11-8, 11-5, 12-10 win over Guyana’s Tiana Gomes, who fought hard and won the second and third sets 11-2, 11-5.

Arjoon took only 16 minutes to crown herself queen in the Under-15 category, with straight sets, 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 win over Bermuda’s Somers Stevenson.

Josie Thong of Trinidad and Tobago took bronze with a 11-6, 11-3, 11-2 triumph over Guyana’s Emily Fung A Fat.

In the Under-17 final, Barbadian Eboni Atherley, was comfortable in victory over Jamaica’s Sanjana Nallapati, scoring 11-7, 11-4, 11-4 to wrap up victory in 25 minutes.

Another Jamaican, Mehar Trehan took bronze, as she too brushed aside her opponent Safirah Sumner of Guyana, 11-6, 11-7, 11-5 in under 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, the Under-19 crown also went to Barbados courtesy of Sumairaa Suleman, who rallied to beat Guyana’s Kirsten Gomes 11-8, 11-9, 11-6, after losing the first set 6-11 in a final that lasted just over half-hour.

It was an all-Jamaica battle for the bronze, with Savannah Thomson coming up trumps over Katherine Risden in an entertaining 49-minute five-set contest that ended 12-14, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 8-11.

On what was an action-packed opening day at the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Junior Championships on Saturday, most of the medal favourites safely progressed to the next round, setting up even more mouth-watering prospects for sports enthusiast, heading into Sunday’s second day of action in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

In boys’ Under-17 action, Jamaica’s Thomas Overton defeated Barbadian Armaan Suleman in straight sets, 11-3, 11-3, 11-8; Shiloh Asregado of Guyana bettered Trinidad and Tobago's Yohann Marchock 3-0, after posting 11-1, 11-6 and 11-7 scores in the three games.

Luke Wilson of Barbados also came out tops 11-6, 11-7, 11-3 in his contest against Trinidad and Tobago’s Sanjiv Mungal, while Guyana’s Demetri Lowe got the better of Trinidad and Tobago’s Marcus Camps-Campins 11-5, 11-9, 8-11, 8-11, 11-8 in a hard-fought contest.

 However, when it came down to second round action, it was Guyana’s Louis da Silva, who earlier had a bye, Daniel Henderson, Luke Wilson, Vincentian Jaydon Williams, Andrew Cox, Elias Carpol, Jamaica’s Lucas Thomson and Mohryan Baksh, also of Guyana, that will contest the third round.

 Da Silva will square off against Henderson, Wilson against Williams, Cox against Carpol, while Thomson and Baksh, will lock horns.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Christophe Bovell is among those that secured their spots in the next round in the boys’ Under-15 category, following a 11-13, 11-6, 11-12 and 14-12 win over Bermuda’s William Frith.

Guyana’s Richard Rodrigues also progressed after bettering Vincentian Dru Sanuel 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 11-1 in a match that lasted 24 minutes, while Bermuda’s Charlie Makin scored an 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 win over Avian Wade of Guyana in a 16-minute contest.

Blake Edwards ensured will have another representative in the next round, as he easily brushed aside De’ron Lewis 11-6, 11-2, 11-3.

Jayden George of St Vincent and the Grenadines was given a bye, along with Barbadian Daniel Sealy, Bermuda’s Owen Rosorea and Zevieh Abraham of British Virgin Island.

Meanwhile, byes were the order of the day in the opening round of the boys’ Under-19 category, but when they got to the second round is where the true quality came to light.

Nicholas Verwey of Guyana outclassed Barbadian Aidan Parris 8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-3 in a four-set match that lasted a half-hour. Verwey will next tackle Jamaica’s Alex Chin, who defeated British Virgin Islands Louis Day in straight sets, 11-6, 11-6, 11-1.

Barbadian Alex Stewart and Jamaica’s Tobias Levy are also set to lock horns after both registered comfortable three-set wins over Russell Forrester and Neil McComb respectively, while another Jamaican Arjan Trehan and Guyana’s Michael Alphonso, will meet in the other contest.

On the girls’ side of action, Jamaica’s Katherine Risden defeated Darci Reich of US Virgin Island 11-3,11-3, 11-2 in a 14-minute match, to book her spot in the next round of the Under-19 category. She is set to face Sumairaa Suleman of Barbados, who was given a bye.

Another Jamaican Savannah Thomson bettered Vincentian Nadira Morgan 11-5, 11-9 and 11-1 in a 17-minute match. She awaits her opponent which will either be Trinidad and Tobago’s Sigourney Williams or Guyana’s Kirsten Gomes.

In Under-17 category, the Barbados pair of Eboni Atherley and Sarrayah Yearwood and Jamaica’s trio of Elle Wilson, Mehar Trehan and Sanjana Nallapati, are those who were safely through to the next round at the time of writing.

 Karen Anderson, president of Jamaica Squash Association is anticipating some quality performances from the country’s rising sensations when the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Junior Championships gets under way in St. Vincent & the Grenadines later today.

Whether or not their performances will translate into medals, is left to be seen, but Anderson is confident that the 15-member team is well prepared to give a good account of themselves at the one-week championships.

Defending champions Guyana are favoured to retain their title, with last year’s runners-up Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago, also expected to lay down tough challenges.

The championship comprises individual events for boys and girls competing in the Under-13, Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19, with a new doubles feature being introduced for the first time this year. There will also be a team event for boys and girls across the respective age groups.

Jamaica’s team comprises the likes of Under-15 Caribbean champion Mehar Trehan and Under-17 champion Katherine Risden, who has now moved up to the Under 19 age group, as well as Sanjanna Nallapati and Savannah Thomson, who are both ranked third in the Under-17 age group.

“We have some pretty good players on the girls’ side which means our chances of finishing top four is good. Most of our girls are seeded, so we are looking for some good placements and then Mehar Trehan is also seeded third in the girls' Under-17, so we are definitely looking for some good results from them,” Anderson said.

Though much is also expected to come from the boys on the team, which is coached by national players Tahjia Lumley and reigning national champion Julian Morrison, with Nathlee Boreland serving as manager, Anderson is well aware that it will require an efficient showing to hit the podium.

“We have four boys in the Under-19 category and most of them are seeded in the five to eight region and so they are really looking good to try and move up in their rankings. We have two boys in Under-17 and the are both in the nine to 16 seeding, while Thomas Overton will be playing in his first junior CASA and then we have Lucas Thomson who has been playing for quite a while but will be contesting the Under-17 category for the first time and he is really looking to make a splash there,” Anderson shared.

“The doubles teams have been really playing well and have been practicing for a while. It’s the first time that doubles will actually be playing at junior CASA and so it should be interesting to see how they manage that division. It is going to be a little bit tricky, but we are hoping to at least finish in the top three and hopefully battle for the overall title,” she added.

The first junior Caribbean Area Squash Association Championship was held in 1981 in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. It is therefore fitting though coincidental, that the championship is going home in the year of the death of Sir Arthur Cecil Cyrus, the conceptualizer of the championship.

Jamaica’s team: Marley Price, Priya Stoddart, Sanjana Nallapati, Mehar Trehan, Elle Wilson, Savannah Thomson, Katherine Risden, Cole Brown, Thomas Overton, Lucas Thomson, Tobias Levy, Alex Chen, Rhys Greenland, Arjan Trehan, Brady Holmes

Having harboured ambitions to expand squash in Bermuda, Head coach Micah Franklin, believes fielding their largest team to the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Junior Championships is the first step to achieving that objective.

Franklin and his 17-member team, comprising nine boys and eight girls, are currently in the St Vincent and the Grenadines for the one-week tournament which gets under way on Saturday.

While his team will have defending champions Guyana and last year’s runners-up Barbados among others to contend with, Franklin, a former player, who was Bermuda’s flagbearer at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, is excited about the prospects, particularly where the players’ development and progress is concerned.

“This is indeed the largest team we’ve ever been able to send to this year’s tournament and all our players are between the ages 9-18. Historically, Bermuda has always been able to send a team to the competition, however, very seldom do we have the luxury of sending enough to bring reserves,” Franklin told Sportsmax.tv.

“The team event portion of the competition requires five boys and five girls, so we are thrilled with the options this gives us. The biggest driver for this larger team is the fact that we gave our juniors goals and achievements to reach, which gives them a reason to train at squash on a regular basis and the Junior Casa this year was their motivation,” he added.

What lies ahead where medal-contention is concerned for Bermuda’s team, is left to be seen, but the Franklin is cautiously optimistic.

“Like everything, it is up in the air, but the team is incredibly excited for CASA this year. Every player has separate aspirations, but for me as the coach, I would love to see us leave with some medals. Anything on the podium will be a fabulous achievement,” he noted.

According to Franklin, there have been some improvements where corporate and government support of squash stands, but he would like to see much more done to continue their sport’s growth in the British Overseas Territory.

“Recently we have been incredibly fortunate to have received support from our government and corporate sponsors and Bermuda Squash is really grateful to Hiscox Re. ILS and the Bermuda Department of Youth Sport & Recreation for their support in Junior Squash development,” he said.

“The growth of squash in Bermuda is most likely similar to the growth of the world of squash. The sport does still suffer from not being an Olympic sport, and also inclusion. So, we are working on inclusion regularly to ensure every player gets a chance to play no matter the background,” Franklin shared.

On that note, he declared an unwavering desire to steer Bermuda Squash onto a new path, starting with this historic achievement at CASA which he believes serves as a springboard for their charge going forward.

“The overall goal and ambition for Bermuda Squash is to achieve full inclusion from all ages, races and genders. We want to prioritize squash first and let everything else fall into place,” Franklin ended.

Expectations are high that Jamaica’s four-member male squash team will secure qualification to the Pan American (PanAm) Games in Chile later this year, when they engage the PanAm Qualifiers in Cartagena, Colombia.

The team of reigning national champion Julian Morrison, Tahjia Lumley, Bruce Burrowes and Dane Schwier, is set to depart the island on Friday, for what is expected to be a highly competitive qualification tournament.

However, Morrison said the small team was ready to put their best foot forward.

“You can expect that we will be giving a hundred percent. We have put in a lot of work for the last two months to really prep ourselves for this.

“Initially we thought it would be an elevated court but finding out that it is very flat, so we are not necessarily at a disadvantage due to the altitude. It is hot over there, but we are coming from Jamaica, especially in this summer, we will be able to weather that storm,” Morrison said.

Burrowes concurred.

“We are going up against very, very big countries like America, Peru, these really big juggernauts of the western hemisphere. But we really think that we can take them on because ‘we little but we tallawah," Burrowes declared. 

First-timer Lumley also believes the team is mentally and physically prepared to give a good account of themselves.

“We have been doing a lot of doubles training together. We have also started training as a team on the physical side in the gym with our trainer, so we have been doing a lot of team bonding which is really good for us, something new but it’s also something that we hope to continue in the future,” said Lumley.

“A lot of work has been done on the mental side as well. Hopefully we can all put it together on each day that we go out there with our flag on our back and make sure that we make Jamaica proud,” he added. 

Meanwhile, Karen Anderson, president of the Jamaica Squash Association, is hopeful that the team will do well.

"It is going to be a very tough competition. Its fourteen teams vying for six spots and the main competitors, or the strongest contenders are from Mexico, USA, Canada, Colombia and Argentina,” Anderson said.

“Colombia, however, has already qualified along with Chile. But it is going to be extremely hard, but we feel that we have a chance, and the reality is, if you don't go, you don't get a chance to actually compete to qualify, so we made the decision to send our team and we are looking forward to seeing how they manage,” she noted.

Coach Rene Denis will meet up with the team in Colombia. 

AGI (Advantage General Insurance) defeated Almost Capable 2-1 in the final of the KPMG Squash League recently at the Liguanea Club in Kingston to be crowned league champion.

AGI’s Julian Morrison defeated Almost Capable's top player Adam Lee 3-1 (10-21, 21-18, 21-20, 21-20) to give his team an early lead. Tahjia Lumley secured the title when he beat Alan Roper 3-0 (21-18, 21-15, 21-18) in their best of five match-up.

With the title already lost, Daniel Chung clawed back some pride when he beat Stephan Morrison 2 -1 (21-18, 15-21, 21-18).

"Firstly the entire KPMG League was a successful league. I think it was a very good opportunity for everybody who’s playing to be able test their skills at deficit - playing better players,” said Morrison the AGI captain afterwards.

"I love it. I think it was great. I think that everybody played well throughout the entire thing because everybody has gotten through with three-game win.”

 Cereal Killers, who lost to AGI in the semi-final, was third while Big Shot was the plate winner that was decided between the top two losing teams. AGI's Dave Morrison was named the Most Valuable Player.

President of the Jamaica Squash Association, Karen Anderson was pleased with how the tournament played out.

 "It was fantastic. It brings out everything, the competitiveness, the sportsmanship, the cheering for the underdog, the underdog trying to bring down the big gun,” she said.

“The uniqueness of the event (the handicap system of play) is what makes it and what captures people's enjoyment with it and so we are very excited about the tournament."

Anderson said that the league was very important for the game locally, especially for the juniors who get to play against various types of players at different skill levels as they prepare for the upcoming Caribbean Championships.

According to Rajan Trehan, country managing partner of title sponsor KPMG, "We are thrilled with how the tournament went. I think the format of the game is so interesting. This along with the junior trials and the senior trials within the time period of this tournament, has really given the juniors a lot of practice and given them a basis to step up their game. I think the timing is just perfect for this tournament."

 

Tahjia Lumley and Alyssa Mullings were the surprise winners at the Jamaica Squash Association’s four-day national senior trials that concluded at the Liguanea Club in Kingston on Sunday.

Lumley won in a walk over after the number-one seed Chris Binnie, who had defeated him in the preliminary round, had to leave the island due to work commitments. Mullings, meanwhile, beat the number-three seed Savannah Thompson 3-1 to finish atop the women’s section.

Lumley, who defeated national champion Julian Morrison to reach Sunday’s final, was grateful just to get to the final.

 "It was very hard. It was difficult. I thought I was probably in one of the hardest groups playing against Chris (Binnie) and Bruce (Burrowes) in the group stages,” he said.

“I lost out to Chris and I knew that the match against Bruce was very important for me to come out on top in order for me to make it into the top four. So I was a little bit edgy and a little bit nervous in that match but I was glad I was able to come out 3-1 the victor.

“My body aches, my body hurts but I think my hard work paid off."

At the end of the trials, the top four men were Lumley, Binnie, Morrison and Dane Schwier.

The unseeded Mullings had a similar journey, defeating the number-one seed Mia Todd to get to the semi-final and then beat the number three seed Savannah Thompson 3-1 to emerge victorious.

"It was a really tough match. I actually knew of Savannah before coming here and all the other girls. They played really well and I am really proud of what women's squash is becoming. So it’s really great to come back out here and play and get a win," she said.

"I came in unseeded because I really hadn't been playing for a very long time. The last competitive tournament was maybe seven years ago so I really had to fight and get ready for this so it felt good coming back and doing so well."

Mullings said Thompson "played extremely well and she is quite fit. It was hard. It showed, her fitness is a bit above mine. I really have to work on that. I am really at a loss for words. I am really proud of what I was able to come out and do."

The top four ladies were Mullings, Thompson, Todd and Melissa Lue Yen.

Chairman of the Selection Committee Joey Levy was impressed with the level of play during the trials and believes Jamaica’s squash is in a good place.

"We had good groups of seven men and eight women and we saw some really tough squash over a compressed time. Overall, it was just four days in all so most people were playing two games a day (and) it wears on you but really, really competitive stuff, (and) a couple of surprises. We are very happy, the association, we are very with what we have seen," he said.

"Alyssa won the All Jamaica Championships, the Senior All Jamaica Championships at 14 about ten years ago. She stopped playing squash. She hasn't played for a while and has now come back. This is her first tournament since coming back so she came in unseeded. She was very impressive."

 

 

 

Jamaica's teams to the Pan Am Games in June and the Senior Caribbean Squash Championship in August will be announced in the near future.

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