Grand Cayman played host to the top squash talent from across the region last week as the Caribbean Senior Squash Championships were decided at the South Sound Squash Club.
The individual competition saw competitors from seven states throughout the region take to the courts, with representatives from the Barbados, Bermuda, Guyana, Jamaica, OECS, Trinidad and Tobago and the Cayman Islands.
Cayman suffered a setback before the first ball of the tournament was hit as Mark Chaloner, Cayman’s intended number one seed, was excluded from the tournament as it was judged that he did not meet the residency criteria in place for players to be eligible to compete in the tournament.
However, with a strong group of players in the men’s division featuring the likes of young star Cameron Stafford, seeded third, and seasoned campaigner Dean Watson, seeded sixth, Cayman’s men still looked set for a good result.
The men’s competition saw mixed results for Cayman in the early rounds. In the first round, Warren Urguhart was beaten 11-1, 11-3, 11-2 by Ramon Chan-A-Sue of Guyana. However, Frank Brennan managed to prevail over Nku Patrick of Trinidad and Tobago in a very tough match, taking it in 10-12, 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 18-16.
A number of Cayman’s players had byes in the first round and saw action for the first time in the second round.
Jake Kelly was forced to retire during an finely balanced match against Kale Wilson of Trinidad and Tobago. However, he had better luck in the consolation plate competition, taking the win over Chris Stout of Bermuda.
After a tough fight to get to the second round, Brennan faced Cayman’s top seed Stafford in the second round and went down 11-4, 11-4, 11-3. Gabe Rabess made his way through to the third round as well, beating Robert Mcdavid of Guyana 11-4, 14-12, 11-9. Number six seed Watson also made it through to the next round, beating Anthony Fellows of Bermuda 11-2, 11-6, 11-4.
Unfortunately for Cayman, the third round saw Watson and Rabess facing off for a spot in the quarter finals, with Watson expected to take the match. However, he was not to have it all his way, as Rabess put up a valiant effort, but in the end it was Watson who claimed it 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-3.
Stafford had an easier time seeing off Noah Browne of Bermuda, taking the win 11-7, 11-4, 11-5.
In the quarter final, Cayman’s two remaining competitors, Watson and Stafford, were set to fight for a place in the semi finals. Although Stafford had the higher seeding, historically Watson had won most of their competitive head to head encounters, which gave him a mental edge over his younger opponent. As expected, it was not an easy match, with both competitors contesting every point fiercely. However, experience won out over youth in the end, with Watson taking an 11-9, 7-11, 11-6, 11-7 victory and in so doing progressing to the semi finals.
In the semi finals, Watson would face the number two seed Chris Binnie of Jamaica in the second semi final, while the first semi final would see defending champion and number one seed Richard Chin of Guyana take on number four seed Bryant Cumberbatch of Barbados.
Chin made light work of his semi final, progressing to the final with an 11-3, 11-2, 11-0 win over Cumberbatch.
Binnie had a tougher battle on his hands with Watson, who pushed him all the way. However, Binnie was able to knock out Cayman’s last hope in the tournament 12-10, 11-8, 11-6.
In the final, Chin made a quick start, taking the first game 11-2 and looking for all the world like he was going to repeat as Caribbean champion. However, Binnie had other ideas, and came out fighting in the second game, taking it 11-3 to level the scores at one game each. In a hard fought third game, Binnie emerged victorious, taking it 11-7 to take a one game lead over Chin and then proceeded to take the fourth game 11-5 and in so doing seal up the title.
In his acceptance speech, Binnie thanked the organisers for the tournament and said that he really enjoys playing in Cayman, as he has a very good history of winning here, having claimed the Caribbean title here back in 2009 as well.
Look for reports on the women’s competition and the team competition in upcoming editions of the Caymanian Compass.
Binnie had other ideas, and came out fighting in the second game, taking it 11-3 to level the scores at one game each.