By Sean Devers
The highlight of another successful year for the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) was the National Junior team’s performance in July in the Cayman Islands where they continued their dominance at Junior CASA Tournament by capturing the overall Team title for the 12th straight Year.
The Boys team beat host Cayman Islands in the finals to be crowned Champions, while the girls’ team finished second losing to Barbados in the finals.
Paige Fernandes finished in number one spot in the Girls U-11, while Shomari Wiltshire won the top spot in the U-13 division. Larissa Wiltshire, who beat teammate Taylor Fernandes in the U-19 final, was the other Guyanese with a ‘Gold Medal’ performance.
Six local tournaments were held in a busy year for Squash while National teams traveled to participate in six overseas assignments at various levels including twice to the United States of America (USA) and once to Canada.
While 49-year-old David Fernandes, who has been the GCA President for last three years is pleased with the outstanding achievements of the Juniors, he said that although Guyana’s present standard is good in the Caribbean Junior circuit, the other Teams have been improving as well and therefore the young players must work harder or Guyana will not be as successful as in the past.
“We owe our success in great part to our National Coach Carl Ince for his efforts in molding our juniors into great players over the past 20 years and through his efforts we have produced multiple Caribbean champions at all levels,” Fernandes informed.
He said that with regards to the senior International levels of competition we are a bit below par since the opposition players are a lot more exposed to continuously high levels of competition all year round.
“If our players are to excel, the level of intensity during training and matches must increase along with more overseas exposure. This is probably true for all of our Sports in Guyana.
At the senior level it becomes even more difficult for the players to maintain this commitment and intensity year round with work and other commitments,” said Fernandes, who has been one of backbones of local Squash for a long time.
“Becoming Pro is not as easy as it may seem, as the competition is fierce. Nicolette (Fernandes) has been successful because of her unbelievable personal commitment, discipline, dedication and hard work all year, along with major support of her parents. She is an amazing example to all young athletes in all sports in Guyana,” The former National Hockey player pointed out.
One of the things he would like to see in 2017 for the expansion of the game is more Squash Facilities.
“This is an area that we have been working with the clubs that have old, abandoned or unused courts to have them refurbished.
We have been successful in the regard during 2016 as the GCC is almost finished renovating their squash court. Hopefully in this New Year we will get other facilities repaired as well.
Currently the facilities at the National Racquet Centre are being renovated as well thanks to the National Sport Commission and the Ministry of Sport. Once we have more facilities, we will be able to spread the game to more people even if only for the casual fitness enthusiast,” stated the hard working GSA boss.
Looking ahead, Fernandes informed that 2017 will be a busy year for the GSA as they are hosting the CASA Junior Squash Championship which will be held in early July, adding that the juniors will start training very early for their upcoming title defense. The senior team is set to participate in the Senior CASA in August in St Vincent.
“I would like to thank the members of my committee, to all of our sponsors in particular Digicel, for their continued support, aiding the development of squash in Guyana. To the parents and players for the tremendous support and encouragement that all of you have given over the years and with hard work and dedication 2017 can be as successful,” Fernandes concluded.
Local tournaments in 2016:
Bounty Farm Ltd Handicap Tournament:
Open category winner: Jason Ray Khalil
Category A winner: Samuel Ince-Carvahal
Kraft Toucan Industries Ltd Junior Skill level Tournament winners:
Category A: Benjamin Mekdeci
Category B: Makeda Harding
Category C: Samuel Ince- Carvahal
Category D: Jason Gomes
Category E: Nehemiah Levans
Category F: Marshal Allicock
Category G: Teija Edwards
Category I: Noah Rahaman
Ansa Mc Al Lucozade Handicap Squash Tournament winners:
Open category: Ashley Khalil
Category A: Kamir Khan
Woodpecker Products Ltd Junior National Squash Championships 2016 winners:
Boys U-9: Louis Da Silva
Girls U-11: Paige Fernandes
Boys U-11: Michael Alphonso
Girls U-13: Abosaide Cadogan
Boys U-13: Shomari Wiltshire
Girls U-15: Makeda Harding
Boys U-15: Shomari Wiltshire
Girls U-17: Makeda Harding
Boys U-17: Shomari Wiltshire
Girls U-19: Taylor Fernandes
Boys U-19: Benjamin Mekdeci
Digicel Senior National Squash Championships 2016 winners:
Men’s Open: Alex Arjoon
Women’s Open: Ashley Khalil
Men’s Veterans 35-49: Garfield Wiltshire
Men’s Veterans 50’s: Garfield Wiltshire
Farfan & Mendes Junior Tournament 2016 winners:
Category A: Shomari Wiltshire.
Category B: Makeda Harding.
Category C: Michael Alphonso.
Category D: Madison Fernandes.
Category E: James Mekdeci
Category F: Louis Da Silva.
Category G: Jahcinta Adams.
Category H: Elan Rahaman.
St Vincent Junior Open 2016:
Boys U-13: Shomari Wiltshire, Gold.
Girls U-15: Makeda Harding, Gold.
Boys U-15: Shomari Wiltshire, Silver.
Boys U-15: Daniel Islam, Bronze.
Girls U-17: Makeda Harding, Silver.
Boys U-17: Shomari Wiltshire, Silver.
Mixed U-19: Larissa Wiltshire, Silver.
Mixed U-19: Taylor Fernandes, Bronze.
Girls U-19: Larissa Wiltshire, Silver.
Girls U-19: Taylor Fernandes, Gold.
Boys U-19: Daniel Islam, Bronze.
Junior CASA 2016:
The Girls Team brought Second overall losing to Barbados in the finals.
The Boys Team First overall Beating Cayman Islands in the finals.
Guyana won the overall Team Title.
Boys U-11: Mohryan Baksh, Fourth.
Girls U-11: Paige Fernandes, First.
Boys U-13: Shomari Wiltshire, First.
Girls U-13: Kirsten Gomes, Second.
Girls U-13: Abosaide Cadogan, Third.
Girls U-13: Madison Fernandes, Fourth.
Boys U-15: Daniel Islam, Fourth.
Girls U-15: Makeda Harding, Third.
Boys U-17: Rithew Saywack, Fourth.
Girls U-19: Larissa Wiltshire, First.
Girls U-19: Taylor Fernandes, Second.
Boys U-19: Ben Mekdeci, Fourth.
Senior CASA 2016:
Guyana finished 3rd overall which was a good result.
Women lost to Barbados in the final
Men beat Cayman Islands for third place.
Veterans finished fourth.
Sunil Seth ended fourth after being forced to retire in his semi-finals.
Ashley Khalil and Mary Fung-a-Fat tied for Third.
Junior Pan Am Squash Championships 2016 USA:
Two players represented Guyana; Taylor Fernandes and Ben Mekdeci.
Taylor Fernandes lost to the number 1 seed and eventual winner Mariam Kamal of the USA, and then went on to win the Girls Consolation draw by winning all of her remaining matches.
In the mixed doubles Ben and Taylor lost in the Quarter finals against the Mexican Team and eventual winners.
Canadian Junior Open 2016 Canada:
Guyana had three players in Shomari Wiltshire, Rebecca Low and Taylor Fernandes. Low lost in the first round against Olivia Waite of Canada.
Wiltshire played for the first time in the under 15 category and lost in the third round to Alejandro Moncada of Mexico.
Fernandes lost in the second round to the number 1 seed and eventual winner Marina Stefanoni of the USA.
US Junior Squash Open 2016:
Four players represented Guyana at this tournament and Shomari Wiltshire was the winner.
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