Three of the top four seeded players progressed into today’s finals in the Ladies and the Men’s A competition as the quality of play continued to improve on Day 4 of the First Citizens Barbados Squash Open, which reaches its climax this afternoon at the Barbados Squash Club (BSC), Marine Gardens.
The Ladies semi-finals last night (Friday) were both one sided as the island’s top two players progressed to another showdown in today’s final. The top seed and defending champion, Karen Meakins, easily defeated national team player Alex Jordan, in straight games 11-3, 11-1, 11-3 whilst the #2 seed, Cheri-Ann Parris, a former two-time Caribbean U-19 champion (in 2007 and 2009) vanquished the 2006 Caribbean U-19 champion, Nadia McCarthy, 11-5, 11-4, 11-6, to set up an intriguing ladies final.
Meakins has never been beaten in any competition by a Barbadian female player in 12 years, but the only player to take a single game off her in all that time was Parris in the final of the Barbados Open two years ago. Parris has been away at college since then and has not played in many local events as a result, but has clearly raised her game, so this afternoon’s contest is likely to be a much closer affair.
The men’s semi-finals were by contrast much closer, and as a result much longer also. The top seed and defending champion, Richard Chin (GUY) had to work quite hard to resist the challenge of the #3/4 seeded Trinidadian, Colin Ramasra, who is playing on the professional men’s circuit. The packed court #1 crowd was entertained by the skill of both competitors.
Ramasra had his chances: he led 5-2 in the first game, 4-1 in the second and 5-1 in the third, but on each occasion Chin cut out his own errors and remorselessly pushed his younger opponent into the four corners of the court, hardly ever needing to deploy the boast while using straight drops and high arching lobs to turn defense into attack, seemingly at will. In the end the tiring Ramasra resorted to speculative cross-court kill shots that rarely found their chosen target and left him even more exposed to the simple straight drops and straight drives from Chin that clung like glue to the side walls and died in the back of the court.
It was an thrilling exhibition of how simple the game can be made to look as Chin, the 2010 Caribbean Men’s champion, ran out the winner 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 in half an hour to reach his third Barbados Open final.
This match was preceded by a real nail biter that lasted twice as long. The 2007 Caribbean Men’s champion and current Barbados National Champion, Gavin Cumberbatch, defeated the #2 seed and six-time former national champion, Shawn Simpson, 12-10, 10-12, 10-12, 11-8, 12-10 in an epic contest that showcased the best of local squash talent. Every game was keenly contested and could have gone either way.
Cumberbatch has worked hard on his fitness and is now back to some of the best form of his career. He seemed to fly around the court at incredible speed while the left handed Simpson, the tallest player in local squash and a National Volleyball player as well, used his tremendous reach to retrieve seemingly lost causes time and time again to the amazement of the boisterous crowd. Gavin’s determination was evident late in the first game when at ten-all he fell over trying to reach a ball in the front court and Simpson played the ball into the back court for what would have been a winner against a normal player. Cumberbatch picked himself up chased after the ball like a man possessed, stayed in the rally and eventually won the point as the crowd erupted with applause.
Buoyed by that, Cumberbatch took the next point and the first game 12-10. The next two were just as close with Simpson getting to ten points first in both games, then Cumberbatch fought back to 10-all before Simpson closed the door each time to win at twelve. At 8-7 up in the fourth game and three points from victory Simpson lost a little concentration and Cumberbatch reeled off the next four points to take that game and even the score at two apiece. Simpson held a slight edge 6-5 in the final stanza, but Gavin roared back with five straight points to take a commanding 10-6 lead. Four match balls down and Simpson saved them all to get back to ten-all.
What more could the audience ask for? But having clawed his way back into contention Simpson then lost the next two points on unforced errors. First his forehand drop, which up until then had been so reliable, found the middle of the tin. Then a regulation, shoulder-high backhand volley from him hit the tin as well to hand the match to Cumberbatch who looked most relieved as the two close friends embraced at centre court to a standing ovation.
Other impressive wins were achieved by 16-year old Stewart St. John, who defeated the very experienced Stuart Tippleston in the Men’s A plate semi-final by three games to one 11-3, 5-11, 11-4, 11-6. St. John, a member of the Barbados junior team, will face a former junior player Ryan Foster who also defeated cagey veteran, Leon Truss, in four games 11-9, 4-11, 11-4, 11-6.
Matches will begin at the BSC this afternoon (Saturday) from 1:00 p.m. with the last two matches, the Ladies and Men’s A finals following one another, starting at 5:30 p.m. with the trophy presentation to follow thereafter. All matches are being held at the Barbados Squash Club, Marine Gardens, Hastings and admission to the venue for the public is free.
Full results from Friday night July 6th :
#1 Karen Meakins def. #3/4 Alex Jordan 11-3, 11-1, 11-3
2 Cheri-Ann Parris def. #3/4 Nadia McCarthy 11-5, 11-4, 11-6
MEN’S ‘A ‘ Semi-Final
#1 Richard Chin (GUY) def. #3/4 Colin Ramasra (TRI) 11-7, 11-5, 11-9 (30 mins.)
#3/4 Gavin Cumberbatch def. #2 Shawn Simpson 12-10, 10-12, 10-12, 11-8, 12-10 (61 mins.)
MEN’S ‘A ‘ Classic Plate S-F
Kevin Bailey (SVG) def. Mark Sealy 11-7, 12-14, 11-8, 11-3
Rhett Cumberbatch def. Don Benn 11-4, 11-3, 11-1
MEN’S ‘A ‘ Plate S-Final
Ryan Foster def. Leon Truss 11-9, 4-11, 11-4, 11-6
Stewart St. John def. Stuart Tippleston 11-3, 5-11, 11-4, 11-6
MEN’S ‘B ‘ Semi-Final
Christian Duncan def. Copeland Straker by default
Peter Harris def. Jonathan Foster 11-6, 11-8, 11-7
MEN’S ‘B ‘ Plate Semi-Final
Norman Rice def. James Ince 11-6, 11-4, 11-7
Daniel Jordan def. Andre Griffith 11-7, 11-6, 11-2