Cayman’s national junior squash championships were held over the weekend and matches were as competitive as ever.
It was for players aged seven to 17 and judging by the intensity, some really put their heart and souls into winning.
Dean Watson. club and youth development manager, said: ‘The event ran on a Monrad tournament draw basis, which meant players had at least three matches to play and provided a ranking list at the end of the three day event. The most important part was to win your first match. This meant your placing was within the top half of the draw. Normal tournament draws usually play a knock system which never allows players to have another chance. Of course, the main purpose of the event was not only to have competitive play, but for the players to spend as much time on court as possible.’
Watson hoped for another strong turn out and he got it with over 55 turning out. ‘This event also helped us monitor possible selection for the national squad for overseas tournaments. CMEC kindly sponsored the event for the first time, we are very grateful for their support.’
Players like Josh Myren, a newcomer to squash, really impressed. He plays most days and showed the more experienced juniors that his athletic ability and hitting power are very effective. Myren, 14, finished seventh in the intermediate event out of 24 players.
The beginners received a good entry level, providing an excellent final between Kieran Hindess and Nesta Broderick. Hindess made the final in the Kirk Office Junior championships earlier this year, so this time was better prepared and ready for a new title. Broderick played well, but Hindess proved too determined and placed the ball in the right place at the right time.
The intermediate event was always going to be one of the most fiercely challenge events. This event and division is the stepping stone for players to enter the elite and national team training sessions.
‘We are constantly monitoring this group of players to give them a little push and hope to put them under more pressure in order to enhance their level of performance,’ said Watson.
Tom Mann and Josh Baker fought for third and fourth place in a tough match. Mann won 3-2 in a grueling war of attrition. The final also proved to be nail biting with some parents twitching more than the players. Alex McCallum and Nick Cameron both in the final earlier in the year for the national championships fought it out again. McCallum edged it 3-2. He could be a star in two sports in the future as he’s been featured in this paper for playing tennis.
The elite/national team event was smaller than usual with a couple of players away, including 16-year-old Alain Mudeen, the island’s top junior. Nevertheless, there were some good matches and excellent viewing for the younger players to learn from.
Courtney Stafford, the only girl, made good use of the match experience against the boys which should increase her performance level. Ryan McConvey recently returned from the UK to continue his education in Cayman. He came third, beating Alex Frazer 3-1. Frazer performed well, bringing his game up a gear which has been part of his focus for the last months.
The final was predictably between Jake Kelly and Cameron Stafford. On current form Stafford was the favourite but Kelly had other ideas, winning 3-0. Stafford stayed strong until the third game when he let refereeing decisions get the better of his concentration. Kelly played well and maintained the pressure throughout.
Watson added: ‘Tournaments like these are essential for our junior programme in order to give them that competitive experience at different levels.’
The national team is now in training for the US and Canadian Opens in December. Watson is seeking support from companies in order to provide this opportunity once again.
‘We now have one junior, Alain Mudeen who has entered the world senior ranking system through the Player Squash Association. He is hoping to become a full-time player before he continues with his education in the States. Jake Kelly and Cameron Stafford are also both very keen to become full-time professionals as soon as possible. This is an excellent reflection on the junior programme and hopefully we can continue producing juniors to the highest of standards in the world.’
Champion – Jake Kelly
Finalist – Cameron Stafford
3rd place – Ryan McConvey
Champion – Alex McCallum
Finalist – Nicholas Cameron
3rd place – Tom Mann
Champion – Kieran Hindess
Finalist – Nesta Broderick
3rd place – Brandon Bravo