Coach Ince says CASA preparations going well
Confident of Guyana claiming 8th consecutive title this year
By Sean Devers
When 68-year-old Carl Ince took over as National Coach 14 years ago Guyana were not a dominant force in Squash and the game had the image of a ‘rich man’s’ sport.
While Squash is still considered an ‘elite’ sport in Guyana, this country has won 10 overall Caribbean titles since Ince took over including seven in a row and the Guyanese head to Jamaica in July for this year’s CASA event as Boys, Girls and overall defending champions.
Apart from the three courts at the Georgetown Club, which hosts major tournaments, Ince feels the construction by Government of the two Public Courts at the Racquet Centre in the City has allowed many more youngsters to get involved in the sport and disclosed that he conducts an after school programme there every Friday from 15:00hrs to 18:00hrs.
“The image of Squash in Guyana is changing due to the Public Courts and more interest in the game from players between ages eight to senor level,” Ince told Kaieteur Sport during the Woodpecker National Junior Championship which concluded at the Georgetown Club last evening.
The Guyanese, who previously resided in England, is confident that Guyana can continue their domination of Caribbean Squash at the junior level this year after wiping out all before them on home soil last year.
“On natural talent our juniors are right up there with all others, while the seniors are also strong, but not as strong as I would have liked due to migration for educational reasons and players dropping out of the sport once they are no longer teenager for various other reasons,” Ince said.
The Coach, who has two Courts at his Farm in Upper Demerara where some national camps are held, said that he sees Guyana moving past the Caribbean and South America in the next five years since there are many more Coaches and people involved in the sport now to enable Guyana to compete at the International level.
Touching on preparations for July’s tournament in Reggae Country, Ince stated that although they have begun a bit later than last year he is satisfied with the way things are going and expects success in Jamaica since all things have been put in place to get the players to the required level for a competition of this nature.
The last time Guyana failed to win a Caribbean junior tournament was in the Cayman Islands in 2004 when they finished second.
“Our Under-19s should be our main weapon with Mary Fung-a-Fat and Ashley DeGroot ranked numbers one and two in the Caribbean respectively after finishing fourth and fifth last year. The top three finishers last year were also all Guyanese in Ashley Khalil and the Jeffery twins Keisha and Kayla who are all over the age limit this year,” Ince, whose first title as Coach was in Bermuda in 2000, revealed.
Coach Ince stopped short of saying the girls were the stronger under-19 team, quickly adding that Jason Khalil is one of the top players in the Region and will spearhead the Boys team.
Guyana will be represented in the under-13, 15, 17 and 19 divisions and Ince said that he would be delighted if they can match last year’s showing which was their best ever at this level. “We won Boys, Girls and Overall in addition to five of the eight individual titles,” Ince said.
“We have a very good developmental programme and this should put us in a very strong position despite the loss of players due to the age rule. Our under-13s should be the hardest hit but I see some promising talent coming through,” Ince explained.
It is understood that a 16-member squad has been selected from which the actual touring team would be picked sometime this week and Ince disclosed that performances in the Woodpecker competition would be the main criteria for selection.
“We have passed the technique stage and we are now into the tactics… shot selection and rally construction. Although Jamaica will enjoy the home advantage, as usual I expect Trinidad and Tobago to provide us with our stiffest challenge,” Ince stated.
The experienced Coach said that the Girls have been benefiting from high level match practice since world rated Guyanese Nicolette Fernandes was involved in the female training sessions before leaving the country for a short while. She is expected back to help wrap up the training sessions before the team depart for Jamaica.
“Nicolette’s Regional and International success and fame has been a huge inspiration for Squash players in Guyana and it is because of her that many young girls have gotten into the sport,” Ince concluded.