Barnes eyes fifth title
Rachel Barnes is once again looking like the player to beat as she aims to clinch a fifth successive Axa Bermuda Squash Racquets Association Club Championships title.
Barnes moved a step closer to retaining her women's crown after sealing a semi-final place with a straight sets 11-5, 11-5, 11-5 victory over youngster Hailey Moss.
Speaking before her semi-final against Alex Furtado last night, Barnes admitted to feeling the pressure of having a target on her back.
“It's really exciting to be going for a fifth straight title,” Barnes said.
“However, I try not to think about too much each year, I just try to focus on each of the individual matches.
“I definitely feel as if there's a target on my back and everyone is out to beat me. Being the person everyone wants to beat can be a little overwhelming at times because I can never be comfortable in matches.
“The level has definitely got significantly better over the years, but it all just keeps me motivated to work harder to defend my title each year.”
That significance has been brought about by the return to the island of players such as Susie Howells, as well as the emergence of junior players such as Moss, who gave a fearless display in her defeat to Barnes.
Although, the pre-tournament favourite is eager to retain her title, she has taken greater satisfaction from witnessing the continued development and improvement of the women's game on island.
“Hailey is only 14 years old and she gave me a much harder match then I was expecting,” said Barnes on her quarter-final encounter.
“She played really aggressively and it's great to see that development in the younger players and their progression.
“A number of players have also returned to the island and that has brought the level up as well. Susie Howells is one the players who has returned and she's really improved her game.
“I've definitely seen over those four years that the level has improved dramatically and it's the same with the juniors coming through as well.
“It's great for the sport and particularly the women's side of the game to have as much competition as possible.
“Obviously, I love winning matches and titles, but the most important thing for me is seeing the improving strength of the sport on island and particularly the women's game.”