After winning my tenth National title in May I followed it up by winning the Barbados Open for the 11th time in June. The first time I won this tournament was as a 20 year old in 1993 (at the time the tournament was a good reason to visit my favourite island!)
Next up was the CAC Games in Bogota, Colombia at the end of July. (Random fact; this was the 21st CAC Games and 21 is my favourite and lucky number!) I was playing Individuals, Mixed Doubles and Teams at an altitude of almost 9000 feet so it was going to be a hectic 10 days. Historically I have never been lucky with draws but this time it seemed my luck had changed. I was given a 5/8 seeding but ended up in the bottom half of the draw avoiding among others my Caribbean rival Nicolette Fernandes who had been getting the better of me for the past several years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBj6kTh_B8c
I was playing well and went through to the semi final with the loss of only one game. Here I met a young Colombian, Catalina Pelaez who was seeded #2. I felt quietly confident going into the match and despite a nervy finish where I had a clear stroke and hit the ball into the tin on my first match ball, I went on to win the match. My opponent in the final was Samantha Teran from Mexico who at the time was World #12. http://www.squashinfo.com/players/369-samantha-teran
I had played Samantha a few times before so knew that I would have to pull off something amazing to even be in with half a chance. In the end she was by far the better player and I lost 3-0 but in doing so had secured Barbados’ first ever Individual squash medal in the CAC Games!
What an unbelievably proud moment that was for me.
The Mixed Doubles played alongside the Individuals and on the same day as reaching the final of the Individuals we lost in the quarter final of the Mixed Doubles against Trinidad. I remember that being a day of two emotions; elation at reaching the finals of the Individuals and disappointment at losing the Mixed
Doubles which ruled us out of a medal. The day after the Individual final, the team matches began (no rest for the wicked
apparently!). The girls were all on top form and we went through to the semi finals against Colombia. Cheri-Ann our #2 was up first against Catalina Pelaez. Cheri played the match of her life and after having a match ball in the fourth game she narrowly lost in 5. I was up next against the player I had beaten 3-1 in the quarter-finals of the Individuals. It was a much tougher match this time and I ended up losing 11-9 in the fifth after coming back from 5-0 down in the final game. I was devastated. Team matches are when I am at my absolute best and I just couldn’t pull it off that day. It was my 9th match in 8 days and maybe a sign that I wasn’t as young as I thought I was. We had been so close to being in the final but it wasn’t to be. Despite both semi finals teams being awarded the bronze medal we still had to play Guyana for 3/4th. With everyone feeling pretty sore and exhausted it was hard to find the motivation for that match. I played Nicolette Fernandes on what happened to be my 38th Birthday and despite going 2-0 up I lost in 5. I think my body hit a wall and said enough is enough, but all credit to Nicolette who fought back like the true champion she is. We ended up losing the match 2-1. After 9 days of tough competition our tired, sore bodies were grateful it had come to an end! All in all it had been a great tournament for Barbados.
As always after a hard squash tournament the partying was even harder! This one will always remain in my memory as it was one of the best after tournament parties I have ever been to (thanks to the Trinidad girls who had organised it)! The party started in one of the player’s rooms but then when we were making too much noise the hotel management kindly moved us downstairs to a huge room! (Colombians clearly recognise the importance of a good party!!!) We were all leaving for the airport at the crack of dawn so we basically partied the whole night
until it was time to get on the bus!!! To this day I’m not sure how everyone packed, dressed and made it to the airport on time….