There are a couple of obvious realities about squash in Guyana. For starters, it has a small following. The local structure, however, produces players who are feared and respected around the region, particularly the juniors.
To test this theory just mention the names Shomari Wiltshire, Abosaide Cadogan, Kirsten Gomes or Michael Alphonse – the more recent Trojans – and observe where the conversation leads.
As one peeks into the archives of the sport, it is easy to detect Guyana’s dominance which manifested itself during the period 2004 – 2016 where the locals reigned over the region as champions for more than a decade.
The fairy-tale run though, ended in 2017 on home turf when arch-rivals Barbados took centre stage by dethroning the Guyanese. It was much the same in Jamaica a year later (2018) when the lads from the Island of the Flying Fish were once again superior over Guyana’s contingent in the all-around teams’ category.
The physiological margin of the triumph, however, was not as vast as the Bajans would have expected which perhaps will script an exciting showdown between the two teams in Trinidad and Tobago during the 2019 edition of the games.
It is for that very reason the President of the Guyana Squash Association, David Fernandes, is just as excited for what holds ahead for the Guyanese juniors as he summed up 2018 and outlined his projections for 2019.
“2018 was good! Generally speaking, I think the junior team did exceptionally well in Jamaica. We were this close to winning the title,” the President disclosed at the end of Farfan and Mendes junior skill level tournament which ended a few weeks ago.
He added: “they (Barbados) were shocked at how fast we came back because remember we brought second the year before (2017).”
Looking ahead at 2019, Fernandes reckons that the Guyanese are indeed in line to retain the overall title.
“Our junior team will be the team to beat in 2019. What happened is that several of their (Barbados) important junior players have aged out. Players like Shamani Griffith and Amanda Heywood who pushed them over the edge last year even though we closed the gap.
“We would have lost a few of our male players who are no longer juniors, but we would not have suffered as much as they would,” he explained.
Griffith and Heywood were indeed the thorns in Guyana’s flesh as they led a physiological revival over the Guyanese. It is difficult however, to imagine a rampant Barbados without the duo.
Guyana, on the other hand, as Fernandes pointed out, will retain the services of the virtually unbeatable Wiltshire, who will be backed up by Gomes, Cadogan, Alphonso, Mohryan Baksh and the Islam brothers.
A few members from the core of the team are expected to end the year by playing in the Canadian and United States Open this month.