… Curtain comes down on Reel Guyana Open C’ships
By Sean Devers
THE quality of Squash and the atmosphere on the final night of the GSA’s Senior National Open Squash Championship on Friday at the Georgetown Club was befitting of the Finals.
In a tournament sponsored by Reel Guyana Video Production & Film Logistics Company, run by siblings, Alex & Victoria Arjoon, Ashley Khalil proved her victory over Taylor Fernandes in the Senior CASA in Jamaica last August was no fluke.
It also showed the dominance of the Guyanese ladies in the Caribbean.
And Final lived up to the hype of the best female players in the Caribbean going at each other with all they had.
And after the dust had settled, it was Ashley – like she had done in Reggae Country – who won 11-4, 11-8, 11-8 to capture her third National Open Championship after doing so in 2016 & 2019.
In 2019 when Ashley won the Women’s title, her sibling Jason-Ray, won the Men’s title to become the first brother/sister combination to win both titles in the history of Guyana’s Squash.
And, on Friday night in the Men’s final in which both players had to dig deep mentally and physically, Jason-Ray defeated Alex Arjoon in an epic contest, 11-7, 10-12, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, as history repeated itself, to bag his second senior Men’s title.
Defending Women’s Champion, Nicolette Fernandes, was present, but only to play the role as coach and referee in the Men’s Final.
Defending Men’s Champion Shomari Wiltshire also did not play since he is overseas.
If there was a trophy for the most flamboyant squash outfits in the tournament, especially in the final, Ashley Khalil would have collected two.
The night’s action commenced with Steve Xavier beating Louis DaSilva, who had got the better of Regan Pollard on Wednesday, 11-3.11-9, 10-12, 11-3.
While the Final was more a battle of attrition and stamina, the third-place playoff between the Ince cousins, 32-year-old Daniel and 18-year-old Samuel Ince Carvalhal, was fast-paced and entertaining.
The contest was between the English-born cousins, who went at each other with all their shots in a match highlighted by very long rallies.
In a thrilling contest, Daniel, looking as fit as his 22-year-old younger cousin, matched him for speed coming from the back of the court to retrieve dropped shots.
Samuel, watched by his mom and grandfather, played some nice backhand drives and showed good use of the court and when the match was completed, it was the teenager who was beaten by his more experienced cousin 3-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8. Both players were given a standing ovation from the sizeable gathering.
Ashley took the first game 11-4 before Taylor galloped to five-point lead with some quality Squash in game two before Ashley fought back well and a beautiful 25-shot rally levelled the score at 6..
But despite Taylor’s best efforts, Ashley prevailed 11-8 before winning the third game 11-8 to take champion honours.
In the Men’s final that followed Jason-Ray won the first game 11-7 in a contest in which very long rallies tested the fittness of both players.
The second game included a 30-shot rally which ended with a perfectly executed drop shot which Jason-Ray could not reach as the hard-fought game ended 10-12 in favour of Alex Arjoon.
The third game commenced at 1-1 and the southpaw Arjoon took the game 9-11 to take a 2-1 lead.
As the match progressed, the length of rallies and the tiredness of the players began to take effect not only physically but mentally, and a couple of 50/50 calls by the ‘Ref’ did not help.
The fourth game saw Jason-Ray take a 9-2 lead to eventually win 11-3 and the match, 11-8 with Arjoon contributing to his own demise by hitting the ball low from the middle of the court twice… as the usually calm and level-headed Arjoon lost the mental battle to give Jason-Ray his second title.