Alexander Arjoon had already clinched his second consecutive men’s senior title on Saturday night during the Digicel National Senior Squash Championships, but yesterday he proved that he had what it takes to beat the toughest challenger in the competition Nicolette Fernandes.
Since Fernandes was only competing in the men’s category for competitive match practice rather than title honours, Arjoon would have been referred to as the national men’s champion regardless of the result of yesterday’s final with Fernandes. Nevertheless, Arjoon said that defeating Fernandes in the tournament final was very satisfying because she was the best challenger in the competition and to win against her makes him a true national champion in the broadest sense of the term.
The 19-year-old collegiate squash player defied the odds by coming from 2-1 to clinically take the former world number 27 to five games before closing out with winners which he fearlessly executed under pressure. Arjoon won the first game 11/7, lost the next two 13/15 and 9/11 before battling back to win the match with two commanding wins 11/5 and 11/2 in games four and five.
Fernandes, who has competed in the both the men’s and women’s draw for the past four years, had a physically demanding road to the final playing two opponents nearly every night of the competition.
Nevertheless, Fernandes said that the fatigue of playing so many matches did not affect her during the final, but it was the strength and skill of Arjoon that broke her down. With a chance to close out Arjoon in the fourth game, Nicolette’s fatigue began to show. Even though her high level of fitness was displayed earlier in the tournament, the six-time Sportswoman of the Year said that the Arjoon encounter was so grueling that not even she could go the distance.
Arjoon, who is the number four player on his college team Franklin and Marshall (F&M) in Pennsylvania USA, said that playing against a world class player challenged him to up his level. Although Arjoon had defeated Fernandes in last year’s semifinal, he said that this time around it was tougher because she has improved tremendously as well as the fact that he had to come from behind.
“It wasn’t easy coming from behind against a player as clinical and stable as Nicolette so I was very lucky to have come all the way back for the win,” Arjoon said. The 29-year-old Women’s International Squash Players Association (WISPA) star lost an aggregate of four games in the entire tournament and the two that she won against Arjoon, were the only two that he conceded.
Following the grueling five game encounter, Fernandes returned to the court to successfully defend her women’s title against Mary Fung-A-Fat. Fernandes, currently ranked 76th in the world, prevailed 11/2, 11/6, 12/10. Ashley Khalil placed third in the women’s category while, Ashley DeGroot took fourth. Keisha Jeffrey won the Women’s Classic Plate (fifth place) while her sister Kayla was the runner up.
US-based player Jamal Callender, who will be playing for Guyana at the Senior Caribbean Area Squash Association’s tournament in Trinidad and Tobago, dismissed Jason Ray Khalil in three games 11/5, 12/10, 11/5. Deje Dias also defeated national junior player Nyron Joseph in four games 2/11, 11/7, 11/6, 11/7 for fourth place making Joseph the winner of the Men’s Classic Plate and Steven Xavier the runner up.
Nicholas Narain won the Men’s Plate (consolation category), while Joshua Abdool was the runner up.
President of the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) Andrew Arjoon said that he was pleased that the tournament was smoothly run and he commended all the overseas and veteran players for their participation. Digicel’s Core Manager Suraj Ramjit presented the winners with the prizes and extended his best wishes to the GSA and its player for their upcoming regional tournaments. The GSA will now be focusing on the junior and senior regional tournaments.
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