“Simply stunning”, “Fantastic squash”, “Great match” were some of the comments made by some of the enthralled spectators after last night’s thrilling exhibition matches held at the Barbados Squash Club, Marine Gardens courts. The audience that packed into court #1 were treated to an excellent opening encounter between two of Barbados’ top men, with Rhett Cumberbatch defeating his older brother and former Barbados and Caribbean Men’s Champion, Gavin Cumberbatch by two games to one 11/8, 13/15, 11/2. After this exciting encounter ended the main event was served up, with the reigning World #1 and five time world ladies squash champion, Nicol David, taking on the Barbados and Caribbean #1 female, Karen Meakins.
After brief but informative introductions, the two ladies took to the court and the English-born 38 year old Meakins was impressive right from the start, winning the first three points with excellent drop shots and volley kills. Meakins led in the first game 3-0, then 6-2 and then 8-6, before the diminutive 27 year old Malaysian (David), steadied herself and closed out the final five points to claim the first game 11/8. Undeterred, and with the support of the vocal home court fans behind her, Meakins attacked some more in the second game with neither player gaining a significant advantage until at 8-all David pulled away, as champions tend to do, and closed out the second game by winning the last three points 11/8.
Meakins was not deflated and in the third led 6-3 and then 9-6. As the crowd held its collective breath David pulled back to 9-10 down as she stepped up her game by volleying more and more, taking the ball earlier. Meakins was forced to scurry from side to side and corner to corner just to stay in each rally. Exhaustion was starting to set in but, to her great credit, Meakins was able to make one more push to clinch the final rally and claim the third game 11/9 to a great roar from the partisan crowd.
The effort to claim the third game now began to show as the world #1 then started to volley everything in reach giving the tiring Meakins no chance to settle. After winning the first point in the fourth game Meakins never led again as the punishing intensity from David never relented. From 2-all the Malaysian world champion simply accelerated and never looked back. Long rally followed long rally and the points kept going David’s way. She rushed to a 9-3 advantage, then it was 4-9, and then 10-4 match ball to David. Meakins bravely saved one match ball, but it was then over with David winning 11/8, 11/8, 9/11, 11/5 in 44 minutes of pulsating squash.
Today (Tuesday) Miss David will hold a clinic for some lucky junior players from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. This will be preceded by a press conference with Miss David at the Barbados Squash Club at 1:30 p.m. There will be another two exhibition matches tonight (Tuesday), beginning at 7:00 p.m. with a mixed doubles encounter involving two top Barbadian teams (Karen Meakins/Rhett Cumberbatch vs. Gavin Cumberbatch vs. Lilianna White). Nicol David, world #1 will then take to the court at 7:30 p.m. to face Barbados’ top player, Shawn Simpson in what is expected to be another very exciting encounter.
The press is invited to attend all of these sessions and the public is invited to come down to the Barbados Squash Club to witness firsthand the world’s best player and one of the all-time greats, Nicol David in action. Entrance fee is $20 for members and $25 for non-members. There will be opportunities after the exhibition matches to ask her questions and to have photos taken with this world great.
Miss David leaves the island tomorrow (Wednesday) morning.