August 19, 2011
OECS men conquer all in Caribbean Squash

The combination of BVI’s Joe Kniepp and Joe Chapman and Vincentians Kevin Hannaway, Kevin Bailey and Shane Slater created history in the Cayman Islands,{{more}} clinching the first-ever team title by an OECS team at the Caribbean Squash Championships. After settling for the silver last year, the OECS Men’s team surprised many, defeating traditional powerhouses such as Guyana and Jamaica to win the championship. In the pool stage, the squad came back from 2 matches down to rout Guyana 3-2, with Kneipp, Chapman and Hannaway all winning in straight games in the top 3 positions. They then faced off against Jamaica to determine the pool winner and once again found themselves in a 0-2 match deficit. However, Kneipp and Chapman once again registered wins, with #5 player Shane Slater trouncing Joey Levy to secure another 3-2 victory. In the semi-finals, the team put in a dazzling display as they shocked a strong host team (Cayman Islands), registering a 5-0 triumph. In a true team effort, the Vincentian trio (Hannaway, Bailey and Slater) all claimed hard-fought 5-game victories to ensure a place in the final. After overcoming Barbados 3-2 in the other semi-final, the Jamaicans lined up against the determined OECS players once again to determine the 2011 champion. Like the previous matches, the team found themselves in a 0-2 hole as Hannaway and Bailey were edged 2-3 and 1-3 against their opponents in the first 2 matches. Kneipp (a former World #10) once again set the comeback in motion, defeating the newly crowned Caribbean Champion Chris Binnie 11/3, 11/8, 11/4 in the #1 position. The match was then tied at 2-2, as Slater defeated Levy 8/11, 11/2, 15/13, 11/9 in a tense match that kept the crowd at the edge of their seats. In the climax, Chapman defeated rival Bruce Burrowes 11/4, 11/9, 11/8 to secure a memorable triumph for the OECS.

The Veterans team of Vincentians Sherian Slater (Women’s 50+) and Keith Boyea (Men’s 50+), BVI’s Mark Chapman (Men’s 40+) and Ken Adamson (Men’s 60+) and St. Lucian Monique Lovell (Women’s 40+) was not as fortunate, finishing in 6th place. Slater, however, was the runner-up in the Women’s 50+ division, defeating her opponents from Trinidad, Barbados and Cayman Islands before falling just short against Jamaica’s Gill Binnie. After losing the first 2 games, she leveled the match at 2-2 before losing out in the final game. Despite the lack of a women’s team, the combined results of the Men’s and Veterans team was enough for OECS to secure 4th place in the overall team standings. By order of finish – Barbados, Jamaica and Cayman Islands claimed the top 3 spots, with OECS finishing ahead of Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Bahamas and Bermuda.

In the preceding individual tournament, Kevin Hannaway was SVG’s highest finisher, defeating Jamaica’s Warren Burrowes 12/14, 11/5, 9/11, 11/3, 11/9 before falling to eventual champion Chris Binnie (JAM) in the Round of 16. Kevin Bailey also had a successful tournament, winning the plate to finish in 17th place after barely losing his main draw match 11/7, 2/11, 11/8, 5/11, 5/11 against Bermuda’s Chris Stout. Following that loss, he won 5 matches in a row against higher-ranked players to win the plate title.

The OECS Squash Association looks forward to successfully defend its Men’s team title (in addition to improved performances in all other individual and team categories) when the event moves to Trinidad and Tobago in 2012.