Robinson and Co ready for Pan Am qualifiers
Laura Robinson is eager to get to the Cayman Islands as part of a “very solid” Bermuda squash team for the Pan American Games qualifiers, which begin a week tomorrow.
Robinson, the 2012 national champion, is joined by Emma Keane — who, like Robinson, is a former Caribbean Junior champion — and Alex Furtado, who has recently returned to the sport after a seven-year hiatus. Bermuda’s men will be represented by Noah Brown and Micah Franklin, the recent Central American and Caribbean Games bronze medal-winners, along with Nick Kyme.
To qualify for the Pan Am Games, in Lima, Peru, next year, the women’s team have to finish in the top eight and the men have to finish in the top 12 in Cayman. The competition will be strong, but Robinson is convinced that Bermuda can make a big impression.
“We have a very solid team,” she said. “Emma’s our No 1 player, and we played our challenge match recently and it was 3-2 and 11-9 in the fifth, so we’re pretty much interchangeable as 1 or 2.
“Alex is a very strong player as well, we always have good games.
“It is very strong competition out there. There are professional players who are active on the circuit. There are top 10 players in the world, so it’s very high competition. It depends on how it plays out, what the seedings are.
“I love playing as a team. You don’t really get the same atmosphere playing as an individual. There’s just something about coming off court after games and your team-mate’s there ready to give you advice and pump you back up for the next game. You wouldn’t get that in individuals. Same with doubles. We have each other on court.”
Furtado, 27, represented Bermuda at several age-group levels at the Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association tournaments, but this will be her first senior tournament.
“I just took a break for seven years,” she said. “I played in school for a bit, but this is my first [international tournament] since Junior CASA and this is my first senior competition.
“I’ve been back playing for two years and have been properly playing for about a year. I was 16 and I just didn’t want to play squash any more. Then I went to school late and started playing again when I went to university.”
Robinson had plenty of advice on how to deal with tournament squash.
“It will be very competitive,” she said. “The standard of competition is very high, The biggest advice I would give is to pace yourself! There are many matches over the course of the week.
“We’re playing in three events: the women’s doubles together and are both playing in the team and individual tournaments. It’s just a question of making sure you recover properly and getting your head back into the next game.”
Robinson says that her and Furtado have different styles, that may well fare well for Bermuda.
“I would say I’m a more attacking player, so I try to kill the point as quickly as possible,” she said. “Alex has a fantastic foundation game, so she’s fantastic with the drives and keeping the ball going and knowing the right time to attack, whereas I will just sort of do it at any stage! That’s both a strength and a weakness depending on if the ball hits the tin or not!”
Robinson is also enthused about women’s squash in Bermuda.
“It’s really good,” she said. “We all play each other fairly regularly. We have a good group, And we do the Ladies Night every month, which is fantastic. You get a fantastic range of people from those who have never picked up a racket to the likes of us and we all happily play each other and give a little bit of coaching. It’s a great atmosphere and a good foundation for women’s squash.”
And Furtado is staging a trashathon tomorrow to raise money to attend the event.
“We’re doing a trashathon around this area,” she said. “The road round here, I think I’ll be able to collect quite a lot!”
• To donate to the trashathon, please contact the Bermuda Squash Racquets Assoction at 111 Middle Road, Devonshire or at bermudasquash.com.