By Lindsey Turnbull
With just a small team participating in this year’s Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) championship, the Cayman national team took on the mighty giants of squash in the region to win bronze for the country in the men’s, women’s and overall team placements.
The event was CASA’s senior championship that takes place each year in a different participating Caribbean location. The 2019 event took place in Guyana’s capital Georgetown and participating teams were Barbados, Bermuda, BVI, Cayman Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Cayman’s men’s team consisted of Cameron Stafford, Jake Kelly and Julian Jervis and the women’s team was Marlene West, Eilidh Bridgeman, Jade Pitcairn, Lara Conolly and Emma Turnbull. Cayman also had a vets team of Marion Goodall and Jody Jervis.
In the singles events, Cayman’s top men’s player, Cameron, got silver to Jamaica’s top player, Chris Binnie, who took home his ninth winning trophy for Jamaica.
“The team performed well in Guyana,” Cameron said. “Everyone did the country proud in all categories. I’m also happy with my performances during the tournament against the Caribbean’s best. A lot of positives to take back for the team and I. It will give us more confidence to go one better for next year.”
Cameron played alongside Cayman’s women’s top player, Marlene West, in the mixed doubles to a decisive win against Trinidad to earn themselves a gold for Cayman, while Julian Jervis and Jake Kelly gained bronze in the men’s doubles and Eilidh Bridgeman and Jade Pitcairn also gained bronze in the women’s doubles.
Hard fought wins
One of Cayman’s youngest senior team members, Emma Turnbull, 19, said the competition was tough.
“This was my first senior CASA, having played in five junior CASA championships,” she advised. “It was a big step up in competition. The hardest women’s matches for the women’s team were the ones against Trinidad, as Cayman needed to beat them to get the bronze. In order to win best of five, we needed to win three, but when we played Trinidad, we all went to either four or five games. Jade Pitcairn’s match was particularly nail-biting as her fifth game went to 11-13 and she saved three match balls in the process. She eventually took the match in a thrilling battle.”
Emma said she refereed this match, her first time refereeing at a senior CASA event, and it pushed her heart rate through the roof.
The team’s youngest player at 17, Jade said she felt like Cayman played exceptionally well over the week.
“Eilidh Bridgeman and I won bronze in the women’s doubles event playing possibly our best squash yet,” she said. “The team event is always my favourite event throughout the whole tournament because you are playing for your country instead of for yourself. The women’s team was very strong this year and every player on the Cayman team fought hard to claim third place in the women’s category. With the help of our men and vets teams, Cayman was able to capture the third-place overall trophy which hasn’t been done in many years.”
Marlene had words of praise for the entire team:
“It was good to be back in the midst of Caribbean squash after a few years of being absent. I am extremely proud of the efforts of the team and am confident that we can continue to improve and get stronger within the region.”