Sun | May 24, 2020

Jamaica squash looking to build after Pan Am challenges

Published:Wednesday | August 14, 2019 | 12:21 AMDaniel Wheeler/Gleaner Writer

The Jamaican squash team will look back on their Pan American performances as encouraging, but will harbour regret on what could have been, if results and fortune had gone their way.

The disappointment of leaving results on the table is something which has caused the team and their head coach, Karen Anderson, to do a detailed post mortem on the tournament and chart the way forward.

“After this tournament, we have taken a long, hard look at our performances to determine the way forward with the goal to develop a plan for medalling at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games, reaching the quarter-finals of the Commonwealth Games, probably the highest level games in the sport, culminating with the next Pan Am Games in 2023,” said Anderson.

It was a struggle in Peru for the team in the singles competition, as Bruce Burrowes was defeated in straight sets in the round of 32 and Christopher Binnie was ruled out of his round of 16 matchup due to injury. The gruelling schedule caused the team to place their energies into the doubles and team events. The duo of Binnie and Clive Lewis advanced to the quarter-finals, winning two sets to one in their round of 16 match against Guatemala, but were eventually undone by Mexico, the tournament’s number one seed.

“I thought the team performed creditably. [I] thought we could have and should have done better. The round of 16 team match was a winnable match. We were a little unlucky with the doubles event, as the team met Mexico, the number one seed, in the quarter-finals,” said Anderson.

The Jamaicans will look back on that round of 16 team game against Guatemala as a major opportunity lost. Binnie got the Jamaica’s off to an ideal start, but Lewis and Burrowes both lost their games in straight sets and ultimately lost the match. Jamaica finished in 9th place overall after subsequent wins against Honduras and Chile in the ranking matches.

Anderson notes that the punishing scheduled affected their chances but was adamant that the team could have prepared better for the level of intensity that was expected.

Hectic schedule

“I think the schedule is very hectic and we need to prepare for that level of intensity of play over that week. A consistent level of play would have made a huge difference.

“Our level of play was a bit inconsistent from tie to tie. We had a difficult match with Guatemala, which would have been a game changer for Jamaica.

It would have taken us into the quarter-finals and a potential matchup with Colombia,” she commented.

Anderson now looks to the future for improvement, with a comprehensive plan, which includes identifying young talent that will be able to take the programme to the next level. Anderson is confident that the current crop of players and those to come will be able to challenge in major tournaments.

“We are developing a five year plan, which will identify some younger players and their development. The plan will mimic high performance plans from the more successful squash-playing countries so that we can compete regionally,” she said.

“We believe we have the players to compete and medal at various [tournaments] and it’s a matter of creating the opportunities for our players to be able to do so.”