Some of Cayman’s most experienced throwers will need to be on target in Tampa.
The Cayman Islands is sending its national darts team, put together by the Cayman Islands Darts Association, to the 20th Caribbean Cup Tournament on July 11 to 20. The Mainsail Suites Hotel and Conference Center will host the competition, which is organized by the Caribbean Darts Organization in conjunction with the Florida Dart Association.
Cayman, competing for the Americas Cup and the Caribbean championship, will be represented by 18 people, led by manager Paul Anglin, coach Cassius Anglin and captain Rodan Asuncion. The squad features Hank “The Hammer” Ebanks, Miriam Rodriguez, Earl “The Pearl” Smith, Romwell “Mel” Tagalog, Cliff Weeks, Norrin Stewart, Neville Parker, Edward Ballantyne, Nathina Ebanks, Rosyl Deguzman, Irma Smith, Kimberly Stewart and juniors Arek Archibold, Adrian Anglin and Kaylone Warren.
Asuncion says some of the top players have been hitting their stride of late.
“Earl and Hank are shooting good and the ladies can win on their side,” Asuncion said. “Miriam has shot good here at the Caribbean championships. Granted, with Kimberly it is her first time playing and I’m not sure if she can do it. Eventually, we hope to have stronger ladies playing here.”
The biannual tournament will see Cayman challenge teams from the Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Barbados, Brazil, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos and Florida. Players face a rigorous competition schedule with seven to eight hours of play each day.
A top priority for local hurlers is improving on a seventh place finish at the 2012 Caribbean Cup in Belize, where Cayman had three rookies, including Jasper Esguerra. Florida emerged the overall winners. Prior to that result, Cayman had steadily been ranked among the top four nations in the region. In 2010, the team placed fourth in Abaco, Bahamas, and also finished fourth in Trinidad in the 2008 event; the same year Caymanian Edsell Haylock became the Caribbean singles champion.
Cassius Anglin has faith that his squad will be up to the task.
“Earl, a three-time Caribbean champ, is in the best form seen in recent years and looks ready to return to the glory he once knew,” Anglin said. “Edward, who made it to the semifinals last time, is also finding old form and with a little more work he will be ready. Romwell is always dangerous and is really looking focused on winning it all this year. We have a good group of guys, and any one of them can cause upsets at this tournament. The partnerships of Rodan and Norrin, along with Cliff and Neville, certainly look strong and ready to go far in the men’s doubles.
“The women are also looking good. Veterans Irma and Miriam look ready to lead Nathina and Rosyl. A late addition to the team is Kimberly, who will be our rookie this year.”
Asuncion has been one of Cayman’s better Filipino players over the years. With an extended sojourn back home on the horizon, he says his feelings are mixed heading into the Tampa tournament.
“I’m about to be ‘rolled over’ on July 12, so from Tampa I go home. I know I’m losing something because darts back home is really tough. Some tournaments have 200 entries or more and to win is really tough. Filipino darts is sending players abroad and in a way, for me to go home, I have to really step up. I can’t play like this.”