By Rawle Welch
Up to press time, defending Caribbean overall champions Guyana had already grabbed four individual titles from eight and in a firm position to maintain its dominance on the regional circuit as the Digicel-sponsored Caribbean Area Squash Association Junior Championships continued yesterday, at the Georgetown Club.
The remaining match was between Alexander Arjoon and Trinidad and Tobago Kyle Wilson for the Under-19 crown.
The Guyanese playing at home once again showed their class with wins in the Boys Under-13 through Benjamin Mekdeci, who defeated Barbados’ Dany Chesham in straight sets 11-3, 11-8, 11-7, while the locals carted off both titles at the U-15 level through Nyron Joseph, who came from behind to wrest the title from Trinidad and Tobago’s Nku Patrick 6-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8 and Akeila Wiltshire, who beat younger sister Larissa in straights sets.
Guyana also won the double in the U-19 category through Jason Ray Khalil and Keisha Jeffrey.
Khalil beat Trinidadian Mandela Patrick in straight sets 11-6, 11-8, 11-8 for the crown, while a visibly improved Keisha Jeffrey turned back the challenge of defending champion and fellow teammate Ashley Khalil in four sets 11-5, 11-5, 7-11, 11-6 to win the title in her final year in the division.
Jamaica’s Alyssa Mullings captured the Girls U-13 title after beating Bermuda’s Madeline Rose 11-3, 11-3, 11-3.
It was reported that Mullings did not drop a single set in the entire competition.
The U-19 encounter, one of the anticipated marquee matchup, failed to live up to expectations as the improved Jeffrey roared to a two sets lead through some exquisite placement and clinical front court play.
She rebounded from an early 0-3 deficit to race to an 8-3 lead in the opening stanza and never looked back, delivering some deft volleys interspersed with some powerful smashes.
The second set followed a similar pattern as Khalil was repeatedly kept on the defensive, scrambling to retrieve balls that were expertly placed in the corners and at times deep in the backcourt.
Jeffrey easily wrapped up the second set to take a comfortable 2-0 lead heading into the third.
However, as everyone knows champions do not simply relinquish their titles and Khalil found some rhythm in the third stanza, reeling off some potent smashes and delicately placed drop shots to claim the set.
With the capacity crowd expecting a revival, Jeffrey returned to her opening strategy, placing the ball immaculately in the corners that created difficulty for Khalil to retrieve and maintained her advantage throughout to capture the coveted title.
Speaking after the game, Jeffrey said she felt really, really good about winning since this is her last chance and she was determined to go out with a win.
“I really wanted to win, but Ashley is a great champion as she has proven over the years,” Jeffrey mentioned.
She revealed that with the Junior World Championship just a few weeks away, the tournament and the win will obviously boost her confidence and offer valuable preparation for the event.
Joseph speaking about his triumph with this newspaper said it was a fantastic performance and the victory is vindication for his six-year effort to win a regional title.
He, however, paid respect for his opponent, who he referred to as a very good player.
Young Wiltshire in her comments said it was a great experience, but was always confident of doing well, despite the opponent being her sister.
The tournament continues today with more matches followed by the Opening Ceremony.
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