PAST & PRESENT
Date Posted: 11 November 2010 Page Views to Date: 1628
XX Pan American Squash Championships - 2010...
White and Simpson win Pan American Bronze Medal for Barbados!!
Simpson (L) & White (R) - mixed doubles bronze medallists
Barbadosí mixed doubles pair of Shawn Simpson and Lilianna White has done their country proud by claiming a bronze medal in mixed doubles at the 20th Pan American Squash Championships that are being held in Guatemala City, Guatemala from November 5-14, 2010. This tournament is the only qualifying event for the 2011 Pan American Games and includes participants from 17 different countries in this hemisphere and features some of the best players in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean: from Canada in the far north to Chile in the far south.
The standard in the singles competition was very high with the number one seed in the men's tournament being world no. 47 Rafael Alarcon from Brazil and the ladies draw featuring the current world no. 12, Samantha Teran from Mexico, as well as the former world no.1 Natalie Grainger and the current World U-19 Junior Champion, Amanda Sohby, both from the USA.
After enduring an 18 hour trip via Miami the Barbados squash team of four men and four ladies arrived in Guatemala City with a day to acclimatize to the 4500 ft altitude before beginning their campaign in the singles competition. With such strong fields in both the menís and ladies draws none of the Barbadian players was seeded and all but one lost in the first round.
The team's sole survivor after the first round was ladies captain, Lilianna White who played Winnifer Bonilla of Guatemala. White is a former Caribbean Junior Champion and often produces her best squash when she is facing elimination and again this was the case as she rallied from 2 games to 1 down to win 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3 in 37 minutes. In the second round, however, she was unable to find an answer to the deception of USA junior, Olivia Blatchford, and lost by three games to love.
The Barbados doubles pairings took to the court again on Monday and yesterday (Tuesday) for the men's, ladies and mixed doubles competitions. Seedings were based on last yearís Pan American Championships and the Barbados mixed doubles pair was seeded at #2. However, with the USA not competing last year there were some dangerous teams in all three of the draws.
The Barbados men's doubles team featured the Cumberbatch brothers, Rhett and Gavin. They were drawn against Guatemala for the fourth time in recent years. Last year Barbados agonizingly lost on the final point by two games to one, 11-10 in the third game. Doubles is very much a game of tactics and after narrowly losing the first game Barbados responded well in a tense atmosphere against the home team to win by two games to one to move into the quarter-finals to the disappointment of the noisy home crowd. Barbados then faced a strong Brazilian team and Rhett Cumberbatch, as he did in the first match, was again almost faultless. He hardly made any errors and hit some outstanding winners. Much of the play took place on the backhand side with older brother Gavin Cumberbatch more than happy to defend against the Brazilian onslaught and attack when given the opportunity. As the second game progressed these opportunities became fewer and the Brazilians advanced to the semi-finals in straight games 11-5, 11-7 after a lengthy encounter.
In the ladies doubles, Barbadians Lilianna White and Alex Jordan teamed up and faced Chile in the last 16. Chile took the first game and at 7-10 down in the second game, Barbados was staring at a straight game defeat. However, this was a dramatic turning point. Some superb winners brought White and Jordan level. They saved three consecutive match points before closing out this second game. The Chilean players were becoming increasingly rattled, which did not help their cause, as Barbados won the third game with aplomb to reach the quarter-finals by two games to one. There they were matched up against Brazil who employed a 'front/back' tactic with one player covering the front of the court and one the back of the court, as opposed to the more orthodox tactic of covering either the left or right side of the court. This combined with the powerful hitting of the Brazilian no.2 player proved too much and the Barbadian pair went down in straight games 1-11, 6-11.
All three of Barbadosí doubles teams had reached their respective quarter-finals, but it was left to the mixed doubles pairing of Lilianna White and Shawn Simpson to go one step further and reach the semi-finals to secure a Bronze medal at these elite regional championships. For the second time in the day, Barbados faced Chile. As in every other match throughout the day Barbados dropped the first game but that was mainly due to too many mistakes from both of the Barbadian players. They were still very much in the match and the right hand/left hand combination of White and Simpson took an early 4-1 lead in the second game that they never relinquished as they leveled the match by winning that game 11-7. In the decider it was nip and tuck all the way with Barbados holding a slender 6-4 lead with some fantastic play by both team members. However, this lead quickly turned into a 7-8 deficit in the race to 11 points. White and Simpson then showed nerves of steel to reel off the next three points to take a 10-8 advantage.
At this stage there was more drama! One of the Chilean shots hit the top of the back wall, and although the players on court could clearly see the ball had hit the out of court line the referee was unsighted and asked for the point to be replayed! If the correct call had been given the match would have been awarded then and there to Barbados. The next rally held more drama as the Chilean shot hit the back wall nick and rolled across the floor for a winner to Chile. The Chileans then served at 9-10 match ball to Barbados. A ferocious rally then ensued with all four players hitting fine shots and recovering what appeared to be certain winners. However, in the end, it was a hard low forehand drive from the left-handed Simpson that the Chilean pair could not reach. Game and match to Barbados by two games to one! In the semi-finals the elated Barbadian pair were unable to progress as they lost to a formidable Argentinean duo who then went on to claim the mixed doubles title. However, both losing semi-finalists are awarded Bronze medals in these Pan American Championships so the White/Simpson team [see photo Ė Shawn Simpson (L) & Lilianna White (R)] happily claimed another medal for Barbados at this level. This is a fantastic achievement for such a tiny country where there are no doubles courts at all on which they can practice!
The menís and ladiesí team competitions commenced on Wednesday, November 10th and will continue until Saturday, November 13th. The team of Shawn Simpson; Gavin, Bryant and Rhett Cumberbatch; Lilianna White; Bo Harris; Alex Jordan, Lynn De Cambra-McLeod and Manager/Coach, Jonathan Gallacher, will return to Barbados on Sunday night, November 14th.
For the full draws (singles, doubles, teams) and other details, please click on: 20th Pan American Squash Championships on Squash Flash.com
Prepared by: Jonathan Gallacher
Director of Squash, Barbados Squash Association
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