by Craig Archer
Manager, Barbados Squash Team to CAC Games
Brilliant play by the Barbados mixed doubles pair of Karen Meakins and Gavin Cumberbatch on Day Three of the squash competition took Barbados past the Guatemalan pair of Nicolle Anckermann and Bryan Bonilla, the #3/4 seeds: 11/6, 11/8 and into the semi-final against Mexico. The Barbados plan of attack in both matches was to target the weaker female player as their male opponent for both matches was the strongest player on the court. Against Guatemala the plan worked to perfection with Meakins and Anckermann rallying patiently down the forehand wall and with Cumberbatch punching crisp-cross court drives whenever the ball was played onto his side.
That 2-0 result took Barbados into the semi-finals where earlier on Wednesday Barbados played well but registered a 0-2 loss to the #2 seeds, Mexico, represented by Diana Garcia and Alfredo Avila. Barbados led for much of the first game but from 7-9 down Mexico reeled off the next four points, including a questionable stroke decision that moved them to 10-9 up. After securing the first game, the Mexican pair settled down and the speedy Avila took over the contest, winning several points in the front of the court with deft drop-shots, of both the straight and cross-court variety, as Mexico powered home 11-9, 11-2 to reach yet another squash final. Their opponents will be the Cayman Islands pair of Marlene West and Cameron Stafford who played brilliantly to defeat the heavy favourite and top seeded Colombian pair of Miguel Angel Rodriguez and Catalina Pelaez in three exiting games 10/11, 11/6, 11/10.
I am quite satisfied with the results to date. We came to Mexico to win at least one medal for Barbados, and so far so good. The team had to quickly adjust to the staggering loss of our Men’s captain, Shawn Simpson, who had to fly home on Monday due to unexpected work commitments. Despite this set back Gavin and Karen, although only playing together for a few days, managed to pull off a great win on Tuesday.
This is Gavin’s third bronze medal at the CAC Games, and all three have come in doubles. Karen now has won medals in three successive CAC Games – a feat that has hardly ever been done by a Barbadian athlete – and she now has five CAC Games medals, which moves her into 3rd place on the all time list for Barbados, just behind swimmers Nicky Neckles (7) and Bradley Ally (6).
What we need now is a purpose built doubles court in Barbados, which would be the first for the Caribbean region. The sports tourism spin offs would be tremendous and our team would be better prepared for competitions like this.
The medals ceremony for the doubles competition was held late on Wednesday night after the ladies, men’s and mixed doubles finals.
The draws for the team competition were made on Wednesday afternoon with the Barbados Ladies team being placed in Pool B with Colombia, Guyana and Jamaica. Pool A comprises Mexico, Guatemala and their perennial rivals, El Salvador.
The men’s competition will be four groups of three teams each, with Barbados being in the strong pool A with Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago. The other men’s pools are:
Pool B – Colombia; Jamaica; Venezuela
Pool C – Guatemala; El Salvador; Cayman
Pool D – Guyana; St. Vincent & the Grenadines; British Virgin Islands
Matches begin today (Thursday) from 8:00 a.m. with the Barbados Ladies taking on the #2 seed Colombia. Barbados’ men start at 10:15 a.m. versus Trinidad and Tobago. Barbados ladies will then face Jamaica at 5:00 p.m. There are three days remaining in the competition, with the team finals being held on November 29th. The closing ceremony will be on the 30th with the Barbados team flying home via Miami on the night of December 1st.