Fernandes claims women’s crown

There was an air of inevitability about the outcome of the women’s draw in the Caribbean Senior Squash Championships. The event, held at the South Sound Squash Club, saw top players from around the region gathering for what promised to be a tough competition. The lineup saw players from Barbados, Cayman, Guyana, Jamaica, OECS, and Trinidad and Tobago take up the challenge. However, the clear favourite from the start was multiple Caribbean champion Nicolette Fernandes of Guyana, the number one seed in the tournament. Fernandes has been ranked as high as 27th in the world in the past, and is currently ranked in the top 50, making her the highest ranked Caribbean women in world squash.

Cayman’s leading player was Marlene West, who was seeded fourth, with the rest of Cayman’s team made up of a combination of youth and experience.

In the first round, Marian Goodall took on Alex Jordan of Barbados, but Jordan proved too strong, taking the match 11-7, 11-5, 11-3. Delia Canham faced a similar fate at the hands of Lynn Decambra-Mcleod of Barbados, who took the win 11-9, 11-4, 11-5. Eilidh Bridgeman had more luck as she saw off Brodie Faragher-Kneip of OECS 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 to progress to the second round.

In the second round, Bridgeman was joined by a number of Cayman players who had byes in the first round. Samantha Hennings took on Lilianna White and in a hard-fought battle managed to topple her more favoured opponent 8-11, 15-13, 11-6, 11-7 to progress to the next round. Kristina Myren was not as fortunate as she came up again the number five seed Rhea Khan, who took the match 11-8, 11-2, 11-4. Marlene West lived up to pre tournament expectations when she took a relatively easy 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 victory over Monique Lovell of OECS. Alison Strobridge also advanced to the next round after a tough 9-11, 11-0, 11-6, 11-6 victory over Nadia McCarthy of Barbados. Unfortunately for Bridgeman, she could not continue her success from the first round as she fell 11-5, 11-1, 11-6 to number two seed Karen Meakins of Barbados.

In the quarter finals, Hennings had the misfortune of coming up against tournament favourite Fernandes, who claimed a 11-1, 11-2, 11-1 victory over her local opponent. West had more luck as she saw off the challenge of Rhea Khan of Trinidad and Tobago 11-2, 11-4, 11-3 to set up a semi final meeting with Fernandes. Strobridge faced number two seed Meakins in her quarter final and surprised her more fancied opponent by taking the first game 11-6. The second game was another hard fought affair, but went the way of Meakins, who took it 11-8 to level up the match. However, Meakins’ experience told in the third game, as she took it 11-1 and kept the momentum going to claim the fourth game 11-2 and in so doing book her place in the semi finals.

In semi finals number four seed West was up against number one seed Fernandes in the one semi, while number three seed Cheri-Ann Paris took on number two seed Meakins.

West was always going to face an uphill battle against Fernandes, but started well to push her opponent all the way in the first game which Fernandes eventually claimed 11-9. The second game was another close affair with Fernandes claiming it 11-8 before wrapping up the match by taking the third game 11-4.

In the other semi final, Meakins took an 11-5,12-10, 11-4 victory over Paris to move on to the final.

In the final, Fernandes started strongly to take the first game 11-5. Meakins came back to take the second 11-7, leaving the match tied at one game apiece. However, Fernandes showed why she is such a highly regarded player as she claimed the third game 11-3 before taking the fourth game 11-6 and in so doing claim the championship, with Meakins taking second and West in third.

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