Young Squash stars to be tested at ‘Nationals’ this week
Woodpecker National Junior Squash Championships
The Guyana Squash Association (GSA) in collaboration with Digicel Guyana will be staging the Woodpecker National Junior Squash Championships this week, which may be the biggest tournament of the year for junior campaigners according to national coach Carl Ince.
The tournament serves off this evening at the Georgetown Club and according to GSA’s Level Four Elite Coach; it will be one of the final elements in determining the composition of Guyana’s team for the Junior Caribbean championships.
Guyana hosted the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Junior Caribbean Championships last year and won the overall title for the seventh consecutive time. Extending that streak to eight this year may seem to be an even tougher task when the competition is held in Jamaica this year, especially since there will be many new faces on the team according to Ince.
Ince explained that many of the core players, who had represented Guyana on the junior team in many of the editions during the seven-year championship streak, have since graduated from junior squash. Some of the players who have outgrown the eligibility requirements including Deje Dias, former Caribbean under-15 champion Alex Arjoon, five-time Caribbean champion Keisha Jeffrey and her twin sister Kayla, as well as two-time champion Ashley Khalil. Ince said that apart for their individual skills, their experience was always an asset in team tournament helping Guyana to dominate for such a long period.
“We knew this was coming, so we were bringing in youngsters from the bottom end to develop…” Ince said with assurance.
“It’s not like Guyana is alone… many of those countries lost their senior players as well,” the English trained coach added.
Some of the players that GSA still have available and that will be competing for a place on the team this week include Caribbean under-17 boys champion Jason Ray Khalil, as well Akeila Wiltshire and champion Nyron Joseph, who swept the Caribbean under-15 titles. Akeila’s sister Larissa was also the runner up in the under-15 championship last year, while Ben Mekdeci won the boys under-15 title.
Mekdeci, who will be making his debut in the under-15 category this year, began the year on a promising note and carted of the Most Outstanding Player award in the last tournament. Following that last tournament, Ince said that Mekdeci has improved significantly over the last year and continues to develop gradually.
Three-time Caribbean champion Mary Fung-A-Fat is also in the squad this year, and in the younger category, eight year-old Shomari Wiltshire will be competing in his sophomore edition of the tournament hoping to create some major upsets in the under-13 category.
Apart from the established names, Ince noted that they are quite a few other competitors that have been training persistently with the aspiration of representing Guyana at junior CASA this year. Ince remarked that the competition amongst the junior players has always been thrilling and unpredictable as many players substitute heart where they lack skill.
With the desire close to the heart of many, this week’s Nationals are expected to be quite the showdown on the courts are the young stars make a case for national selection. With this in mind Ince said that he is anxiously awaiting the results of this week’s tournament since it will give a clear picture of the appearance of the squad and Guyana’s prospects at the event this year.