On Day 1 at the Barbados Squash Club, Marine Gardens, in the First Citizens Barbados Squash Open, the spectators had to wait until the very last of the eight scheduled Men’s B matches to see the tournament’s first upset but it was worth the wait!
The very experienced #3/4 seed, Norman Rice, had trouble keeping his usually deadly high arcing lob serves in the court and swiftly found himself down two games to love versus the much younger Martin Bryan. After dropping those two games 8-11, 8-11 the clearly fatigued Rice seemed to be out of it in the third game and at 10-7 up Bryan served for the match with three match balls in hand.
Rice had other ideas and, not for the first time in his career, fought back bravely to win the next four points without reply and after losing only one more rally duly claimed the third game 13-11 to the delight of the gathered spectators who looked forward to a lengthy contest. And so it proved. Rice seemed re-energized and easily won the fourth game 11-6. The fifth game then had a bit of everything as both players traded snappy quips and shots on court, to the amusement and amazement of the audience in court #1.
Neither player could build a decisive lead, however. One-all became 5-all and then 7-all. It was that close, as tension mounted both on and off the court. At 7-all, Rice squandered his initiative by serving the ball onto the top of the back glass wall and out; but then still pulled ahead 9-8, and was only two points away from a massive come-from-behind victory. It was not to be. Bryan held his nerve down the stretch and claimed the next two points to reach his fourth match ball at 10-9 up.
He then spurned an easy stoke in the front right corner and kept the rally going until Rice scrambled back into a rally that he should have lost and which finished in a let decision from the referee. Bryan was clearly disappointed that Rice got to replay that rally, but it was the correct decision. He was not to be denied, however, and ended the contest by hammering an unreachable drive down the forehand wing to claim his massive victory 11-8, 11-8, 11-13, 6-11, 11-9 in 40 minutes.
The other matches played last night were much more straight forward with straight games victories to the higher ranked player in all cases except for the top seed, Andrew Nunes, who had to work hard to quell the challenge of U-17 Junior team representative, Brandon Straker, who took the first game before Nunes steadied himself to win in four close games: 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5.
The players in the Men’s B main draw will now have a day to recover as attention turns to the Ladies quarter-finals which begin this afternoon from 4:45 p.m. followed by the Men’s A first round matches which commence at 6:15 p.m. All matches will be at the Barbados Squash Club, Marine Gardens, Hastings and admission to the venue for the public is free.
MEN’S ‘B’ 1ST ROUND Ruairidh (Rory) Mackenzie def. Shemane Griffith 11-7, 11-5, 11-3
MEN’S ‘B’ 1ST ROUND Daniel Jordan def. Andre Griffith 11-8, 11-7, 11-6
MEN’S ‘B’ 2ND ROUND #1 Andre Nunes def. Brandon Straker 6-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-5
MEN’S ‘B’ 2ND ROUND #5/8 Copeland Straker def. Benjamin Griffith 11-7, 14-12, 11-3
MEN’S ‘B’ 2ND ROUND Martin Bryan def. #3/4 Norman Rice 11-8, 11-8, 11-13, 6-11, 11-9
MEN’S ‘B’ 2ND ROUND #3/4 Martin Goddard def. Rithew Saywack 11-4, 11-1, 11-5
MEN’S ‘B’ 2ND ROUND #5/8 Michael Best def. Khamal Cumberbatch 11-5, 12-10, 11-5
MEN’S ‘B’ 2ND ROUND #2 Peter Harris def. James Ince 11-5, 11-3, 11-5