Energetic young squash players took part in the 2016 EFG Bank National Junior Squash Championships at South Sound Squash Club over the Easter long weekend.
The competitors ranged in age from under 9 to 19 years old.
The boys Under-9 competition was a “tremendous battle,” organizers said, between some brave 8-year-olds whose parents were very vocal, cheering them on in the heat of the battles. Josiah McDermott managed to claim the title ahead of Isaiah Rankin and Nicolas Havlin.
In the girls U-13 competition, play was dominated by Lauren Fullerton who beat all her opponents without dropping a game.
The boys U-13 provided great entertainment between friends and rivals Jace Jervis and Pierce Terry in the final. Jervis took the first game 11-9, only for Terry to rally and control the next two games, claiming them 11-4 and 11-5. Jervis fought back with a great array of winning shots, leveling the score to two games apiece.
The fifth game saw Jervis race ahead, creating a 3 point gap, only for Terry to claw his way back, but as he did, yet another surge forward for Jervis gave him an 8-3 lead. Remarkably, Terry dug deep and fought back to level the score at 8 all, which became 9 all, then 10 all, and then 11 all.
Finally, Jervis managed to put two fantastic rallies together to claim the title 13-11.
Later that day, Jervis and Terry found themselves in the final of the U-15 event also, which challenged their fitness levels. This time, it was Terry who came out on top, taking the boys U-15 title in a close 3-1.
The girls U-15 event had a good lineup of players, all vying for a chance to play top seed Jade Pitcairn. Vanessa Fullerton made it to the final and gave her all, but could not break down Pitcairn’s game, leading to Pitcairn claiming the girls U-15 title 3-0.
The girls U-17 final was another friendly rivalry between Emma Turnbull and Kali MacLean. Turnbull started well and took the first game 11-4, also taking the lead at the start of the second. MacLean fought her way back and went point for point with Turnbull, but could not quite make up the gap at the end of the game, losing 11-9. The third game was very tight from the start, with Turnbull and MacLean trading points all the way to 8 all. Turnbull put together three fantastic rallies to close out the game and match, taking the girls U-17 title 3-0.
The boys U-17 was plagued by illness, with Gyles Luke being the last man standing and able to compete when he took the walkover as Jasun Sairsingh was too ill to compete.
The girls U-19 final was a real seesaw battle between Mischa Kluyver and Jade Pitcairn. Both girls initially found it difficult to get into their rhythm, then, at 9 all in the first game, Pitcairn hit a fantastic dying length to give her game ball, which she followed up with a straight volley kill, taking the first game 11-9.
The second game was another nail biter. Kluyver got to game ball first but was unable to convert it on the first try as Pitcairn fought back to level the score. Kluyver then put together some well-placed shots just out of reach of Pitcairn and took the second game 12-10, leveling the score 1 game all.
The third game was a rerun of the second, except Kluyver seemed more composed as she was able to convert her first game ball at 10-9, taking a 2 games to 1 lead.
In the fourth game, Pitcairn had game ball first, only for Kluyver to respond with a well-placed drive which sent the ball dying into the back corner and leveling the score.
Kluyver then took the next point, giving her a match ball, but Pitcairn was not ready to give up and literally threw herself around the court to retrieve the ball, eventually hitting an outright winner in the front right corner.
This seemed to relax Pitcairn as she played very simple squash for the next two rallies, dominating the middle of the court and dictating the play, winning them and the fourth game to head into a deciding game.
Pitcairn’s confidence from winning the fourth game gave her a head start in the fifth, immediately taking a 5 point lead. Kluyver fought her way back but could not close the gap, giving Pitcairn match ball at 10-6. This proved too much for Kluyver and Pitcairn claimed the title 3-2.
The boys U-19 final between Christian Dube and Gyles Luke also went the full distance. Luke took the first game 11-9, with Dube fighting back in the second and third, claiming them both 11-7 and 11-9, respectively. Luke seemed to gain a second wind and pulled off a great fourth game, taking it 11-7, heading into a fifth and final game.
Both players threw themselves around the court, taking some chances and playing some attractive squash.
They traded points all the way up to 9 all and it seemed that Luke had the edge in the final two rallies, outmaneuvering Dube and taking the title 3-2.
Head coach at the South Sound Squash Club, Mark Chaloner, said more than 40 juniors played in this year’s championships.
The results will help the club select the players who are likely to represent Cayman in this summer’s Caribbean Junior Championships, which Cayman is hosting on July 16-23.
Next week sees the turn of the A, B, C and D male and female senior players and age group categories of 40 plus, 50 plus and 60 plus who will be taking part in the EFG Bank Senior National Championship on April 11-15.
To find out more or to enter, contact [email protected]