Towards the end of June until early July, the spotlight of Caribbean junior squash focuses on the CASA Junior Championships, in the lead up to the senior tournament, in August.
Since 1977, the Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) has served as the focal point and main authority for squash in the Caribbean. Now in its 35th year, the first winners of where both Barbados won the girls’ category and Jamaica won the boys category.
Since then, the CASA member associations have gone to include Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Guyana, The O.E.C.S., Trinidad & Tobago, and Venezuela. In terms of the most successful junior team, this honour falls to Guyana, with a record of 12 consecutive titles since 2005.
Only Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica – have won the overall Junior CASA Championships. The rivalry between Guyana and Barbados is fierce, and the tournament has seen two islands in the finals on numerous occasions.
With final of the 2017 event, saw Barbados become CASA junior champions for the sixth time, thus ending the domination of favourites Guyana, who finished in 2nd place and their quest for a 13th consecutive title in smoke. Jamaica finished third, which is a positive result for the island.
From junior star to senior Squash professional
Just like, the British Junior Squash Open, there has been a number of individual junior title winners of the CASA Championship progress to win at senior level.
The most notable players are Chris Binnie of Jamaica (2006 U19 Champion and seven-time senior champion), Barbados’s most successful Squash family the Cumberbatch brother, have won junior and senior titles and from the girls, Karen Anderson of Jamaica is a winner at both junior and senior titles.
However, in 2016, Meagan Best of Barbados made history by winning the senior title at the age of 14, to add to her girls U13 & U15 CASA Junior titles. With her success asks one provocative question how soon before Meagan plays on the PSA circuit? Hopefully soon, perhaps she could play in the British Squash Open in 2018.
Why the future of Caribbean Squash looks great
Overall, the CASA Junior Championships will serve as the launch pad to promoting grassroots squash development in the Caribbean, thus the future of squash from the islands looks great.
Ironically, now with Squash being a showcase event at the 2018 Youth Olympics – it will be good to which one of the Caribbean junior Squash teams will have the opportunity to compete against the other junior squash team from Europe, US and Asia.
Perhaps when Squash receives its official inclusion into the Olympic Games, it would be great to see one of junior stars from one of the Caribbean islands go on to win a medal and states he or she comes up through the CASA junior championships – only time will tell.