Cayman’s junior squash players are all set for tough competition when they head off to Barbados next week to compete in the Caribbean Area Squash Association championships.
For many of the players, this will not be the first time they have represented Cayman in the tournament, as many have been playing squash for a number of years.
Coach Mark Chaloner teaches the junior players at the South Sound Squash Club and said the squad has worked extremely hard to get to peak fitness.
Countries competing at the Junior CASA besides Cayman are host nation Barbados, Bermuda, Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, aka OECS, which comprises Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The Junior CASA Championships run from July 17 to 26.
“The squad has been comprised from the results of the national junior championships, which were held earlier this year,” Chaloner said. “Since then, they have all had added training to develop their skills and improve their fitness to give them the best chance possible to achieve better finishing positions than in previous tournaments.”
Chaloner said the juniors have benefitted greatly from input from the community.
“Excellent sponsors such as Maples, Carey Olsen, Baker Tilly, CNB, AON, The London & Amsterdam Trust, RSM and Butterfield have sponsored the junior team throughout the year, which has proved to be a huge help.
“It is great that we are able to take 18 youngsters to Barbados, giving them important exposure to greater competition which will hopefully, in turn, help them gain a deeper knowledge of squash and help them gain important life skills from the responsibility of representing their country abroad.”
Julian Jervis, 17, has been playing competitively for five years and has represented Cayman in a number of overseas tournaments. He will be a top seed in his Under-19 division. His one aim is to win the title, he said.
Julian’s younger brother, Jace, 10, is also making the trip, playing in the U-13 category. This is Jace’s first international tournament and he hopes to gain valuable experience, make new friends and follow in his older brother’s footsteps one day.
The 2015 Junior CASA will be Lara Conolly’s last year in the junior ranks. The 18-year-old has been Cayman girls’ No. 1 junior since 2010 at U-15, U-17 and U-19 levels.
Conolly said she has made many friends, traveled to several tournaments and thoroughly enjoyed representing her country. She is looking forward to improving her last ranking and meeting new and old squash friends from the region in Barbados.
Twins Daniel and Sean Murphy have also represented their country in many international tournaments. They are in the U-19 division.
Daniel said, “I hope to play my best squash in every match, progress as far in the tournament as possible and help Cayman win the team event.” Sean added that he is looking forward to competitive matches and wants to place as highly as possible.
Mischa Kluyver, 17, is in the U-19 category. “Squash has always been a part of my life, but only recently have I truly made it a big part of my life,” she said. “I have been playing seriously now for two years and I love the game.”
Ally Artuch has been playing squash for five years and this is her fourth time representing Cayman at CASA. She is in the U-19s and would like to improve her game as much as possible.
Gyles Luke, 16, is another seasoned international and is looking forward to his first time in Barbados.
Christian Dubè, 16, said, “My goal is to play the best squash possible in both the individual and team events. I also hope to get competitive matches and to develop my squash skills during the tournament.”
Isaiah Robinson, 15, said, “It is my first year playing U-17 and I hope to bring home a trophy.”
Emma Turnbull, 15, has been playing squash competitively for six years and is competing in the U-17 category. This is her second time representing Cayman at CASA.
Kali MacLean, 15, said, “I think the experience will be really useful as it will allow me to compare myself with other players from the region in my age group.”
Jasun Sairsingh, 14, said, “I’m hoping to place in the top three of my age group and I’m looking forward to making new friends and meeting up with friends from prior years.”
Sisters Vanessa, 14, and Lauren Fullerton, 12, are playing in the U-15 and U-13 categories respectively.
Twins Jade and David Pitcairn, 13, have high hopes. Chaloner said both played at CASA last year in Bermuda and they surpassed their expectations as far as placings. As a result, they’ve both put a tremendous amount of effort into training this year.
Pierce Terry, 11, will be competing in the group event at CASA.