Not even the quickness, agility and outstanding mobility of Nyron Joseph could shake world class squash star Nicolette Fernandes in her campaign in the men’s draw as she claimed yet another straight-game win en-route to the semifinal of the Digicel Senior National Squash Championships last night at the Georgetown Club.
The intensity level of the tournament was cranked up even more on night three and Fernandes brandished her best squash yet. Speaking exclusively with Stabroek Sports after the game, the 29-year-old local squash ambassador said that Joseph was a great test adding that the competition was getting tougher as she completed her fourth win in two nights.
She once again engaged the Caribbean Under 15 champion in long rallies with both players aiming for the back corners of the court. This time around, however, Fernandes was more aggressive and unleashed a plethora of graceful drop shots which not even an expert retriever like Joseph could get.
“Nyron was a good test for me. Playing against him helped me work on being more aggressive. Instead of sitting back and waiting, I’m working on going for (kill) shots,” she said afterwards.
The 15-year old Joseph was able to push Fernandes down to the wire before she won the first game 12/10, but he had no chance in the following two. While Fernandes worked on deGroot on the first night moving him around, she took Joseph out with spine-pinching winners.
The 2010 South American Games Champion’s fitness was off the charts and she did not seem to tire even after lengthy rallies which she remained composed during and ended at will with lethal winners. Her accuracy was also on point and this help put Joseph away even faster as he simply could not get to the front court before her shots died (bounced twice) which they did so often. What was even more unbelievable was that it was her second game of the evening yet she was still moving brisker than her younger opponent.
In the women’s draw, Fernandes was less than cordial against former Junior Sportswoman of the Year Ashley Khalil racing to a swift straight-game win 11/6, 11/5, 11/1. Fernandes seemed in a hurry to close out Khalil to prepare for her encounter against Joseph. Nicolette will have a break from the women’s draw before her clash against Mary Fung-A-Fat tomorrow evening. Fung-A-Fat dispatched Ashley deGroot who had upset Keisha Jeffrey the previous night.
In the men’s draw, overseas based Jamal Callender, nephew of Caribbean veteran champion Alwyn Callender, stunned former national champion Regan Pollard to book his semifinal spot to face Nicolette. The much improved Callender raced by Pollard 11/5, 12/10, 11/4 to set up an interesting semifinal duel against the World number 76 ranked women’s player later today. On the other side of the draw, Jason Ray Khalil emerged victorious from a five-game battle against Deje Dias while Alex Arjoon disposed of Steven Xavier in straight games 11/7, 11/2, 11/2. The tournament continues this evening when Jason Ray Khalil faces defending men’s champion Arjoon in semifinal one while Nicolette will play Callender for a chance to play for both titles on tomorrow night.