Squash Year in Review: We had a brilliant year – GSA president

first_imgTHE Guyana squash fraternity definitely took a blow this year with the relinquishing of the Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Championships title.However, that was just one blemish for an otherwise not-so-bad year for the racquet sports in Guyana.Notwithstanding the loss, the president of the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) considered the year to have been another great one for the sport.“We had a brilliant year. We won senior Caribbean titles. We hosted the junior CASA as you know, and even though we didn’t win overall, the hosting of that was successful. We had some really good local tournaments, where we saw our players step up and they are just progressing all the time. So I think we had a really good year,” says GSA president Robin Lowe.There’s nothing misplaced in Lowe’s optimistic viewpoint, there was a lot of good for the sport of squash this year.Encouragingly, senior Mary Fung-A-Fat officially announced that she was taking her pro career seriously. Promising junior player Shomari Wiltshire also performed on the international scene and indicated his seriousness for squash in the long run – something not expressed by many young squash players, despite their eminence on the regional circuit.Then there was the comeback, where Guyana returned to prominence as the Senior CASA Champions, clinching both the men’s and women’s title – something we haven’t done since 2014.However, we were once again pipped by Barbados for the overall title, after they came out with the better veterans’ team. consequentThe title wins were attained due to a batch of very strong seniors that included, on the female side, Fung-A-Fat, Taylor Fernandes who played her last year in the junior tournament this year, former national champion Ashley Khalil, Larissa Wiltshire, who herself aged out of the junior category just last year, and Victoria Arjoon.On the men’s side there were former Caribbean junior champions Jason Ray Khalil and Nyron Joseph and former senior Caribbean champion Richard Chin.Less than a decade ago Guyana struggled to gather senior players. Then the team was largely made up of junior players but there has been a continued improvement for the sport in the senior area.This shift to improved performances among the seniors is credited to many of the players who once ruled the junior scene sticking around to compete as seniors.But seeing these strong players age out of the junior category has taken its toll on the junior division, gradually weakening Guyana’s once impenetrable junior team, at a time when other countries, particularly Barbados, continue to see strengthening on their junior circuit.President of the Guyana Squash Association Robin LoweJust this year the junior team said goodbye to another two stalwarts: Taylor Fernandes, and Ben Mekdeci, who have both aged out of the division, leaving gaps that will be hard to fill.Guyana’s loss at Junior CASA came as no surprise to many who have been paying attention to the regional junior title. Barbados had been gaining on Guyana for some time now.Just a few years ago Guyana ended with as many five out of eight titles in the individual age group categories at Junior CASA. This year we barely managed to grasp two of the ten titles that were up for grabs;Barbados won six, while they made it to seven finals. It was somewhere around the time after Barbados collected all those individual titles that team Guyana braced for their overall loss.It was particularly sad that it had to come at a time when the tournament was being held on local soil. However, this of course by no means signals that Guyana’s done being the junior Caribbean champions.“It’s not going to be easy to get back up there but we’re by no means at the bottom of the barrel,” Lowe pointed out, further noting that: “We’re still pretty much one of the top teams, so we just have to continue and try to increase our focus and our training. The young talent that’s coming up is very promising.”Renowned national squash coach blamed Guyana’s slipping junior side on complacency, noting that perhaps we’ve just gotten too comfortable as winners.Meanwhile, the junior CASA was not the only loss for squash this year; Guyana’s pride and joy of squash, Nicolette Fernandes, officially announced her retirement as a pro player, ending a 15-year career. Not only that, there’s also no certainty if she will still look to represent Guyana at the senior level.With retirement plans forthcoming from Ince, Lowe says squash will suffer the loss of two legends. However, he assured that there will be persons there to fill the gap left by Ince, even if somewhat marginally.He has not officially said that he is retiring, but we expect it to come soon,” Lowe said.“Anytime you have legends like that leave the arena, there is some impact. I think he has done an outstanding job in coaching. But it’s not like we’re not going to have people. A lot of persons are following squash and are interested in helping the youths move through.”Now with the year concluded the focus is on picking up the pieces and moving on to the next. As it pertains to plans for next year, Lowe says nothing has been set in stone as yet, as the GSA executives will meet shortly to begin charting a course.As it is right now, an increase in emphasis of Guyanese players performing at more international tournaments is definitely on the cards. Another unofficial plan is the hosting of the Senior CASA.“There are plans for four players to go to Commonwealth Games and there are some other international tournaments that we’re going to be thinking about,” Lowe said. “Once we complete this year we will have a better idea of what will be done next year. We have to meet and come up with our game plan.”last_img

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