Barbados Nationals 2014

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Final Day:

Simpson secures seventh squash success

In the Men’s final of the 40th National Squash Championships the #2 seed, Shawn Simpson, outplayed the dynamic Bryant Cumberbatch in four games to claim his seventh national title in his eleventh final in the last twelve years.

The tall, left handed Simpson played to a clear plan and rallied patiently while trying to keep his diminutive opponent pinned into the back corners as much as possible. Although at times both players stuck the ball with great pace, Simpson also tried slowing the pace down and deployed the crosscourt lob to his opponent’s backhand side to neutralize one of Bryant’s strengths which is his attacking variations in the front court.

Simpson led for most of the first game but from 6-9 down, Cumberbatch reeled off five successive points to claim first blood at 11-9.  Simpson regrouped and extended the rallies more with patient steady squash, reeling off two runs of four points in the second game and a run of seven straight points in the third game, both of which he won for the loss of only five points.

This pattern was repeated in the fourth game where Simpson steadily built a 9-4 advantage before Cumberbatch mounted a comeback and pulled back to 8-9 down before Simpson claimed the last two rallies to win 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-8 in 33 minutes.

The entertaining men’s third place saw Rhett Cumberbatch comfortably defeat his elder brother and top seed Gavin Cumberbatch for the first time in this event 11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4 while in the fifth place match Mark Gilkes used his superior volleying ability to dispatch the experienced former eight time champion Mark Sealy 11-4, 11-1, 11-6.

Don Benn finished seventh by outlasting Andy Gill in a five game upset 11-7, 2-11, 4-11, 11-9, 12-10.  The men’s consolation plate was won by teenager Zaki Williams who defeated former U-19 champion Ryan Foster 9-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 while Craig Archer got his revenge over the player who beat him on Day 1 in the first round by defeating Sylvester Nurse to win the men’s plate 11-4, 11-5, 11-6.

The ladies plate was won by Clair Husbands who defeated the experienced Cilla Seale by default.

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Day FIVE:

Bryant upsets top seed. Simpson through to 11th national men’s final.

The top seed and defending champion in the men’s championship Gavin Cumberbatch was upset last night by his younger brother Bryant  in an exciting semi-final match in the 40th National Squash Championships being played at the Barbados Squash Club in Marine Gardens.

In a hard fought match played at great pace the diminutive Bryant, looked to be close to the form that he was in when he reached and won his only previous men’s final three years ago.  Both players covered the court with amazing speed and generally the match was played at a blistering pace but after squandering a game ball in the first game to lose the tiebreak 11-13 Bryant who at 25 is five years younger than his eldest sibling was able to settle down and generally made fewer errors, especially at the front of the court, and wore Gavin down to win 11-13, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 and reach only his second men’s final.

In that final Bryant will face the #2 seed and six time former national champion Shawn Simpson, who has now reached 11 out of the past 12 men’s finals and at age 30 is one short of reaching the record of twelve final held by the revered former champion, Rudy Goodridge. The left handed Simpson defeated Rhett Cumberbatch, the third Cumberbatch sibling seeded this year in the top four in straight games 14-12, 11-5, 11-5 in a hard fought encounter that Simpson was in complete control of once he prevailed in a tight first game that went to deuce.

Rhett led from the start all the way up to 10-7 and then failed to convert any of the five game balls he held after that.  Simpson steadied himself, restored parity at 12-all and won the next two points to clinch the first game 14-12. Buoyed by that success Simpson was never in any further trouble and never trailed in the match which he closed out 14-12, 11-5, 11-5.

In other matches played, in the playoffs for the 5th to 8th Mark Sealy defeated Don Benn 3-0, while Mark Gilkes turned the tables on Andy Gill who had beaten him recently by bouncing back from a game down to win 4-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 in one of the matches of the night. In the first round of the Consolation Plate Zaki Williams had to dig deep to defeat Copeland Straker in five games, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-6 while Ryan Foster and Stewart St. John defeated Brandon Straker and Shemane Griffith respectively in four games.

The wily veteran Leon Truss used his lob and drop game to telling effect to overcome the Caribbean and Barbados U-13 champion Khamal Cumberbatch in straight games 11-3, 11-5, 14-12.  In the second round of the Men’s plate, Sylvester Nurse just edged out Deepu Panjwani in five games 4-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 13-11 in a thriller.  Dean Straker and Craig Archer defeated their respective opponents Andrew Nunes and Rithew Saywack in four games while Peter Harris took out Julian Welch in three games 11-9, 11-4, 13-11.

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Day FOUR:

Meakins wins 14th ladies national title. Top four men’s seeds all through to semis

As she has done every year since 2001, local squash queen Karen Meakins brushed aside another challenger and duly claimed her record 14th straight national squash title last night on day #4 of the 40th annual Barbados National Squash Championships which are being played on the recently renovated courts at the Barbados Squash Club.

Meakins faced the #2 seed, Gylla Mackenzie, the reigning Barbados and Caribbean U-17 champion but unlike last year’s close encounter this year Meakins was back to her dominant best and easily dispatched her teenaged opponent in straight games 11-2, 11-2, 11-5 to claim her 14th title in as many attempts.  Meakins now also holds the record of most finals played by any player, having gone one better than the 13 successive finals played between 1984 and 1996 by Natalie Small (nee Webber) who won 11 national ladies titles over that period.

Also in impressive form was Nadia McCarthy who used her superior pace of shot to defeat radio personality, Alex Jordan, in four games 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-2 and finish third.  In the fifth place playoff 14 year old schoolgirl Amanda Haywood played well to defeat Muffin Stollmeyer 11-7, 14-12, 11-3 in a hard fought and competitive match.

In the Men’s main draw the top four seeds all advanced to tonight’s semi-finals as expected.

The top seed and defending champion Gavin Cumberbatch comfortably dispatched former national champion (2003) and men’s captain, Andy Gill, 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 and will now face his younger brother Bryant,  the 2011 men’s champion, in tonight’s first semi-final.  Bryant easily defeated Don Benn 11-1, 11-8, 11-9 in his quarter-final match.

The other men’s semi-final tonight will pit the #2 seed and six time former national champion, Shawn Simpson, who also made it look easy while defeating Mark Gilkes 11-2, 11-5, 11-4.  The left handed Simpson’s opponent in his semi-final tonight will be national junior team coach Rhett Cumberbatch, the third Cumberbatch sibling seeded this year in the top four.

Rhett prevailed in the toughest of the four quarter-finals against former eight time national champion, Mark Sealy, who took the fight to his younger opponent who dropped the first game in a competitive match.  After that wobble, the dreadlocked Rhett Cumberbatch never trailed again in any of the next three games and won 8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8.

In other matches played, in the first round of the Men’s plate, Deepu Panjwani and Julian Welch easily defeated their respective opponents, little Marcus Jordan and Ruairidh (pronounced Rory) Mackenzie in straight games, while Andrew Nunes and veteran squash administrator Craig Archer were both pushed to five games by their respective opponents.  Nunes squandered a two game lead before prevailing in five games 11-9, 11-7, 4-11, 4-11, 11-9.  Archer was pushed all the way by the competitive Michael Best but managed to barely scrape home in a see-saw encounter 17-15, 8-11, 11-9, 1-11, 11-7.

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Day THREE:

Men’s seeds all safely reach quarter-finals.  Meakins reaches 14th straight ladies final and will face Mackenzie in repeat.

The top eight men all duly made their way into their respective quarter-finals as action continued at the Barbados Squash Club last night on the third evening of the 40th annual Barbados National Squash Championships.

Top seed and defending champion Gavin Cumberbatch easily dispatched the evergreen Leon Truss 11-7, 11-4, 11-7 and will now face former national champion and men’s captain, Andy Gill in tonight’s quarter-finals who also won in straight games over Brandon Straker 11-6, 12-10, 11-7.

The #2 seed and six times former national champion Shawn Simpson also looked comfortable in a fast paced match against Ryan Foster who briefly threatened in the second game before the current national men’s captain prevailed 11-5, 11-9, 11-3.

Simpson’s opponent in the quarter-finals will be the dangerous Mark Gilkes, who also looked relatively untroubled as he defeated another one of the exciting and talented national juniors, Shemane Griffith, who has made an impressive improvement over the past year.  Gilkes led from start to finish and won in straight games 11-5, 11-6, 11-5.

Two more Cumberbatch brothers advanced with Bryant Cumberbatch defeating Zaki Williams 11-8, 11-6, 11-7 while older brother Rhett Cumberbatch had to fight hard to defeat national U-19 champion, Stewart St. John in five hard fought games, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5.

Rhett will now face former eight time national champion, Mark Sealy who defeated Copeland Straker 3-0 while Bryant will face Don Benn who defeated the fourth Cumberbatch brother to reach the last 16, Khamal Cumberbatch, the national U-13 and U-15 champion.  Benn was pushed hard by the talented and diminutive 12-year old St. Michael’s student and dropped the first game before regrouping and closing out the next three games to win 3-11, 11-8, 11-9, 15-13.

Tonight’s ladies final will be a repeat of last year’s final as the top seed and 13-time national champion Karen Meakins was pushed by Nadia McCarthy but still won in straight games 11-3, 11-8, 11-6.

The second ladies semi-final was a complete contrast as the #2 seed, Gylla Mackenzie, the reigning Barbados and Caribbean U-17 champion, fell behind 0-2 to the effervescent radio personality, Alex Jordan, who came back from 7-10 down in the first game and saved four game balls before winning at 13.  Jordan then dominated the second game where she never trailed to win that game at four.  Mackenzie upped the pace and stormed back to win at 1 and then 7.

Jordan regrouped in the fifth game and seemed to be cruising to a big upset at 7-3 up before a combination of her errors and Mackenzie’s improved shot making made the difference.  In the end Mackenzie won by three games to two 11-13, 4-11, 11-1, 11-7, 11-8 to reach her second successive ladies final.  In other ladies matches played Amanda Haywood defeated Clair Husbands 3-0 to set up a fifth place match-up against Muffin Stollmeyer who also defeated the experienced Cilla Seale in straight games.

Below are the updated results and playing schedule for Wednesday to Saturday (June 4th  – 7th). The Men’s Quarter-finals will get underway from 6:00 p.m. on Thursday night June 5th. The Ladies finalwill be held at 7:00 pm tonight as well.

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