Co-captain of the junior national squash team, Alexander Cheeks, is not at all disappointed that Guyana, for the second year running, finished behind Barbados in the teams category at the just-concluded Caribbean Squash tournament in Jamaica.
Guyana, in the lead up to the tournament, was hopeful of once again becoming the region’s top junior squash team, a tag for which the South Americans wore for over a decade from 2005 – 2016.
“I won’t say it’s a disappointment, I am proud of my team although we did not win the overall title,” 18-year-old Cheeks told Stabroek Sport.
“What matters to me is that they all put in the effort and played their best squash and as a Captain, I’m very proud of them. You win some, you lose some, but mostly you learn.”
The efforts of the locals saw them playing unbeaten after four rounds in both the boys and girls’ categories.
Barbados also mirrored that effort and the two clashed in the highly anticipated final round which the eventual champions won 4-1 in the girls category and 3-2 in the boys’.
Cheeks, speaking on behalf of the team, said that playing the region’s premier junior squash tournament is always an arousing gratification and so was 2018 despite the outcome.
“The experience is amazing going against players from all over the Caribbean, the competition varies and mostly the friendships that are built, are everlasting.
“It’s always amazing at CASA and like my girls’ captain [Rebecca Low] said; `you look forward to CASA more than you look forward to your birthday,’” the Co-Captain said.
Assessing 2019 and beyond for some of the junior’s like Shomari Wiltshire and Michael Alphonso, who won the individual gold in the boys U15 and 13 divisions, Cheeks seemed hopeful that Guyana’s reign at least for now as one of the top teams, is in excellent hands.
“I assure you the juniors [who] will continue to play in the tournaments ahead, are really amazing; words cannot describe how talented the youths of Guyana are.
“Shomari is a very talented kid, and I see a really bright future for him. When he makes it big at least I can say, ‘hey, I know that guy or I played with him.’
“Abo [Abosaide Cadogan], [Michael] Alphonso, [Paige] Fernandes are all amazing kids, and the level of squash that they’re playing at their age is better than what I was playing at when I was younger, and with more training, at fitness, nothing can hold them,” Cheeks commented.
He, however, made a startling revelation in crowning young gun, Kirstin Gomes as Guyana’s ‘star’ at the conclusion of the tournament.
“This CASA star for me was Kirsten Gomes. She beat two of the under 19 girls, and she’s just 14-years-old.
“She played like a beast and today [Saturday] in another U19 match she came close again to bringing it home,” the Co-Captain explained as he gave kudos to the girls’ captain Rebecca Low for being an ideal role model off the court.
Cheeks also sang praises to coach Carl Ince, whom he described as always wearing a smile despite the eventual results.
He also said that the efforts of the other coaches – Colin Ming, Garfield Wiltshire, David Fernandes, Bryan Chin and the hard-working Tiffany Solomon were all appreciated.
Cheeks, who has now completed his junior CASA career, said he is now focused on going pro.