Barnes cements place at top of rankings
Rachel Barnes spoke of her pride at retaining her crown as Bermuda’s top-ranked women’s squash player.
Barnes lived up to her favourites tag going into the Bermuda National Squash Championships last week, to ultimately prevail in the Women’s Open PSA Division, overcoming a strong field of competitors such as Taliah Wade, Joann Bielby, Megan Jackson and a hard-fought four-set final against Sarah Nicholson, to take the honours.
“I’m so excited to have won the tournament again,” said the 25-year-old. “The level of squash on island has improved dramatically over the past 12 months and so that made me a little more nervous than usual going into the event.
“There was also the added pressure of being the reigning champion; I definitely felt like everyone was gunning for me.
“The good thing for me was that we held the Club Championships in November with much of the same competitors and I managed to win that so I knew what to expect.
“It’s also great to be able to prove myself as Bermuda’s best female player again, because it’s one thing winning a club tournament but the national championships brings together all the island’s players and there are some great players involved.
“Having won means I’ll be ranked as Bermuda’s No 1 female player for the next year which is great; it’s a lovely accolade to have.”
What made the victory even sweeter was the fact that for the first time at the National Championships, the women’s side of the competition had world ranking points on offer, an incentive that for Barnes outweighed the bragging rights of just winning outright.
“The biggest thing for me though is the fact that there was ranking points up for grabs and that made a huge difference,” she added.
“The club went all out to make the women’s side of the competition on par with the men’s and it’s fantastic that we could play in an official ranking tournament on home soil.
“There were some top players competing, the level was really impressive and having ranking points on offer is really important for players here.
“On a personal note, there was also the added bonus of being able to play in a ranking tournament in front of people you know, which is always lovely.”
Another highlight of the National Championships is the coming together of Bermuda’s two clubs, the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association in Devonshire, to which she belongs, and the Court House Squash & Wellness Club in Hamilton.
Barnes relishes any opportunity to resume the friendly rivalry between the clubs and believes any form of competition can only be healthy for the continued sustainability of the sport in Bermuda.
“It’s always exciting when the clubs get together and to be able to come out on top is really cool,” she said.
“We definitely have a friendly rivalry between the two clubs and there is actually a lot of crossover with players between the two, so we can all improve each other.
“It’s also great to see the Court House getting stronger again because it is healthy to have numerous squash clubs.
“Whatever can be done to improve the game is important and it is nice to play each other as much as possible.
“The squash scene on island has always been historically strong and it’s definitely still really strong now.
“There is a really impressive youth programme on island and we have a number of professional players so that level is definitely impressive.
“The level keeps on getting stronger here and that is great for everyone involved in squash.”
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