Goodall is champ at last

Marion Goodall has waited a long time to be a national champion and now she can boast that honour.

Squash’s National Championships concluded at the club in South Sound on Friday and Goodall was the beaming winner in the women’s final.

It was a pulsating competition and the finals were a fitting finale to a wonderful series of matches over two weeks. The women’s final was an exciting encounter with Goodall taking an early 2-0 advantage over teenager Courtney Stafford, who seemed a little overawed in the early stages. However, Stafford, 17, stepped up her game and played some great shots to draw level at 2-2. Goodall showed tremendous athleticism. She was not to be outdone and won the fifth set and title in style.

Goodall admitted that Stafford stretched her to her limits. ‘It was a tough one,’ she said. ‘It was very difficult to play a teenager when you’re nervous. This was my first time playing in a final. I’m not accustomed to this.’

Goodall has just turned 47, having started playing squash in her late twenties in Jamaica. ‘At the time I didn’t have a coach so I danced around a little bit. And then when I came here I got some coaching from John MacRury and since then I’ve played regularly. I played in the Caribbean championships in Kingston, Jamaica last August but Hurricane Dean interrupted it.’

Stafford was distraught at losing her first national final but she promised to try again next year. ‘I was determined not to get beaten 3-0 and really tried harder,’ she said.

Club coach Dean Watson totally outclassed Gabe Rabess to retain his men’s title. Watson produced a superb array of shots in a comprehensive 3-0 win.

The Vets final was also a thriller. Club chairman Ian Patrick, who had won the Super Vets title, won the first game against the higher ranked and younger opponent Nick Buckley who then took command and stormed into a 2-1 lead only for Patrick to stage an unexpected fight back to take the next game and a 6-3 lead in the fifth game. Buckley then played flawless squash to squeak out a 3-2 win in an absorbing final.

Watson was full of confidence going into the match because he already knew Rabess’s game inside out. ‘I’ve played Gabe for many years and we both know each other’s game style,’ he said. Watson has known Rabess for 15 years, since he coached him in their home town of Basingstoke in England. Watson was a full-time pro then and Rabess was working in the gym at Watson’s club. ‘So I’ll always be his master,’ Watson joked.

‘To a certain degree I have a little bit more confidence playing him simply because I’ve been playing for a little bit longer and know his game. I know what he does and doesn’t like and use that to the best of my ability to beat him. That tends to work.

‘Physically, Gabe is very strong so I never wanted to stay on court with him for very long so I was quite happy to get some winners in quickly to finish the rallies as early as I could so that he didn’t have a chance to settle into the game and make life a lot more difficult for me.

Chairman Patrick added: ‘The Cayman Islands National Squash Association is extremely grateful to Massive Equipment Rentals and Sales Ltd who sponsored the tournament again this year.’

RESULTS

Men’s A

Champion:Dean Watson
Runner up:Gabe Rabess

Ladies A

Champion:Marion Goodall
Runner up:Courtney Stafford

Vets

Champion: Nick Buckley
Runner up:Ian Patrick

Super Vets

Champion: Ian Patrick
Runner up: Jay Schutte

Doubles

Champions: Jay Schutte and David Sargison
Runner up: Melissa Evans and Merta Day

Men’s B

Champion: Trevor Kidd
Runner up: Craig Fulton

Ladies B

Champion:Drew Dhanraj
Runner up: Maylin Phillips

Men’s C

Champion: David Hoggins
Runner up: Chris Mann

Ladies C

Champion: Sinead Quinn
Runner up: Isabel Lawson

Goodall had to dig deep Photos: Ron Shillingford

Stafford will try again

Rabess (l) and Watson are old friends