OTTAWA, ON, June 24, 2019 — It was a successful week for squash in Canada, having officially hosted the 2019 Pan American Junior Squash Championships for the first time in history from June 16-22 in Toronto, Ontario, and witnessing our skilled team of athletes compete with passion and national pride.
The event created a platform for talented junior squash players from North, South and Central America as well as the Caribbean to converge at a singular location and gain experience competing at an international level.
Our team of Canadian athletes were not intimidated by the grand scale of the event and had success in multiple categories.
In the Individual category, Brianna Jefferson made it the furthest out of our Canadian athletes, finishing tied for the Bronze Medal with Lucia Bautista Sarmiento of Colombia. Brianna was on a winning streak before ultimately falling to Silver medalist Meagan Best of Barbados in the semi-finals. Maria Paula Moya of Ecuador captured the Gold Medal with a strong performance throughout the competition.
Brianna further contributed to the success of Team Canada in the Mixed Doubles event with partner Nikhil Ismail where they tied for a Bronze medal. The pair had an intense battle in the semi-finals but were defeated by Meagan Best/Khamal Cumberbatch of Barbados. Best/Cumberbatch went on to win the Gold medal over David Costales/Maria Paula Moya of Ecuador who bring home the Silver.
By Wednesday it had finally come time for the highly contested team event. Teams from 12 different countries fought to gain a spot on the podium and make their supporters proud back home. On the girls’ side, in an amazing turn of events, the Canadian squad made the host nation proud by conquering their opponents from across the Americas and becoming the 2019 Gold Medalists! The Canadian girls had to defeat Ecuador, who put forth a great fight and were able to bring home a Silver medal. USA and Mexico tied for 3rd place in the girls’ team event. The girls team consisted of Charlotte Orcutt, Brianna Jefferson, Erica McGillicuddy and Molly Chadwick along with coaches Jonathan Hill and Janet MacLeod.
The Canadian boys were able to make it all the way to the 5/6 playoff, where they faced Peru for a second time in the draw. The matches were close, with our young men giving it their all, but ultimately losing, finishing a solid 6th place in the tournament. The boys team consisted of Nikhil Ismail, Neel Ismail, Douglas Kosciukiewicz and Emilio Carrillo.
On top on Team Canada’s impressive results, they were also presented the “Fair Play Award”. Referees voted on the country that best displayed good sportsmanship both on and off the court. What made the award even more meaningful, is that referees could not vote for a team from their resident country.
In the companion event, the Slaight Music International Junior Squash Showcase, Canadian Emilio Carrillo defeated the competition in the boys draw and captured Gold. Ecuador’s Maria Falconi was crowned champion of the girls’ event.
Lolly Gillen, Tournament Chair of the 2019 Pan Am Junior Championships was moved by the experience at large and had this to say about the experience, “Something magical occurs, when athletes, coaches, delegates and referees from 12 different countries, live together under one roof for eight days. Extraordinary friendships are forged, and the sense of a Pan American family becomes a reality. Once again, Mayfair Lakeshore, renowned for both its facilities and the professionalism of its staff; raising the bar for execution and presentation. Hats off to Reinaldo Rivas, who totally redefined the role of technical director; excelling in every aspect, and to tournament referee David Howard’s for his dedication and commitment. A big thank you also to volunteers, Anne Brayley, Catherine Fournier, Cathy Orcutt, Molson Robertson, Nanette Sanson, Kelly Anne Zander, and especially to Richard Rogers and Gabby Renaud. Honourable thanks to Gary Slaight of Slaight Music, for his unwavering financial support of squash, and to Jeff Deverill for chairing the Pan Am Junior’s first every companion event; the Slaight Music International Junior Squash Showcase. Thanks also to the FPS for having faith in Squash Canada, and for giving us the opportunity to host this event. This entire experience has been exhausting, emotional and beyond amazing. The fairy tale ending; Team Canada winning gold in the Girl’s Team event, on top of two bronze medals, and also capturing the Fair Play Award, brought a cascade of tears to my eyes. I can’t express my sincere appreciation enough; for the parents, and for the incredible commitment and years of hard work, each and every one of these athletes have invested into training to achieve these results. The championships were truly remarkable and junior squash is rocking in Canada!!!!”
Reinaldo Rivas, the Technical Director of Pan Am Juniors had some kind words to say about his experience. “Seeing the future of Squash and knowing that someday many of these juniors will be one day top of the world, is like having met Tiger Woods, Rafael Nadal, etc., when they started shining early in their careers,” said Reinaldo. “I made sure I took some pictures with them that will last along the years and in some of my best memories. Just to mention a few, Maria Paula Moya (Ecuador), Khamal Cumberbatch and Megan Best (Barbados), Lucia Bautista (Colombia) and the whole Canadian Team. Seeing some of the legacy of your past actions, there no better reward that you know will last many years from now. I had the opportunity to meet with folks who once were juniors during my time playing and coaching in South America, and them telling you the impact you had in their lives through squash… it is just difficult to explain.”