Cayman’s novice squash team represented their country in fine style in Guyana taking third team place in the 2017 Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association championship at the beginning of July.
Individual players also put in some outstanding performances, with Jace Jervis, 12, taking gold in the boys U13 and Jade Pitcairn, 15, runner-up in the girls U17 categories.
Cayman’s 10-year-old Brodey McComb gained a well placed fourth place in the boys U11, while Olivia Kluyver, 12, and Emma Turnbull, 17, both took fifth place in their categories – girls U13 and girls U19, respectively.
Coach Mark Chaloner said he felt overall everyone played well and he was pleased with all the players’ efforts and ability to stay calm on court.
Chaloner said that U13 winner Jace had made a great start in his squash career, following on from his older brother Julian’s impressive wins in successive junior CASA tournaments.
“Jace Jervis was very solid throughout his campaign, following in his brother’s footsteps, beating Aiden Parris from Barbados in the final a decisive 11/5 11/5 7/11 11/8,” he said.
“Another outstanding performance came from young Brodey McComb, who beat Andrew Cox from Bermuda in a thrilling four game match in the quarter finals of the boys U11. He went 1-0 down and then came back and won the next three games, but one went to 13/11 and the last one 14/12. The crowd was on the edge of their seat. Brodey eventually won 6/11 13/11 11/4 14/12.”
Jade Pitcairn played arguably her best match in her semi-final against Mekeda Harding of Guyana, Chaloner confirmed. “Last year she beat her at home 3-1, but this year she won in three games and played the most structured game I have seen her play yet. Jade dominated the centre of the court, moved her opponent round the court to force weaker shots and punished them when they came, making few mistakes along the way, winning 11/8 11/6 11/5.”
Jade lost to Meagan Best of Barbados 11/7 11/4 11/1 in the final, to claim silver.
Although losing her first match, Emma Turnbull refused to be defeated in her 5/6th place play-off match, which Chaloner described as a “hum-dinger”.
“Emma went 2-0 down both games 12/10, then seemed to refuse to lose and steadily upped her game to win the next three 11/9, 11/5, 11/6, taking fifth place in the girls U19,” Chaloner said.
“Olivia Kluyver’s 5/6th place match was also a great game and a real nail biter. She also played the same girl and gained the same result in the last match of the team event against Trinidad, to win Cayman’s second match against them.”
In addition to these individual placings, Cayman also gained some respectable placings in other age categories. Kali MacLean, 17, placed 7/8th in the girls U19, Shaelah Parchment Henry, 13, took 7/8th place in the girls U15, Pierce Terry (13) took 7/8th place in the boys U15, Isaiah Robinson (17) took 7/8th place in the boys U19, Christian Dubé (18) gained 9/14th place in the boys U19 and Neil McComb (12) took 9/13th place in the boys U13.
Once the individual matches had been played, the teams then played for the final team placements. Chaloner said the team event threw up some better performance than the individual event for a few players.
“Perhaps because they were getting used to the courts, but also playing in a team environment can be helpful for some to find their best form,” he explained. “Unfortunately, Pierce Terry got injured in one of the first team matches, so we replaced him with one of our reserves, Neil McComb, who was thrown into the deep end as he was up against the top three finishers in the under 15 event and he is only 12.
“Nevertheless, he tried so hard against all of them and was very strong to chase the ball all over the court while very much up against it.”
Chaloner said he was extremely pleased with Neil’s faith and determination in this difficult situation.
“Jace Jervis managed to keep a clean sheet throughout the team event, too, but against Guyana’s Michael Alphonso (who he beat 3-1 in the individual semifinal) Jace found himself 2-1 down and really up against it,” Chaloner confirmed.
“The crowd was going crazy and his opponent was playing the game of his life, so it was a true testament to Jace to keep his cool and literally sneak out the win 11-9 in the fifth game!”
Cayman’s team eventually battled hard to take third place, beating the Trinidad team into fourth place, with Barbados gaining a dramatic overall win over Guyana. Hosts Guyana had been the junior CASA winners for the past 12years.
As well as the Cayman Islands contingent, teams from Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana, Bermuda and Jamaica participated in this important youth sports event. Players in the OECS team (other eastern Caribbean states) also participated in the individual competition.
Chaloner said that Cayman’s juniors owed a big thank you to their sponsors who offered some excellent support for the team, including Maples, Phoenix, Eric Cronier Ltd, Cayman National Bank and Carey Olsen.