Squash ace Binnie breaks lengthy layoff with semifinal appearance in Atlanta

By Lance Whittaker June 09, 2021
Chris Binnie celebrating his biggest pro win at the Lifetime Atlanta Open in February 2020. Chris Binnie celebrating his biggest pro win at the Lifetime Atlanta Open in February 2020.

Caribbean squash champion Chris Binnie says he is “happy” to be back playing competitively again after a 15-month layoff.

Binnie advanced all the way to the semifinals of the Life Time Atlanta Open this past weekend in Sandy Springs where he was defending champion and the Jamaican was satisfied with the outing despite not repeating as champion.

“I got a couple of wins, made the semi-finals, so I am just happy I was able to play again, to compete in another event,” he told SportsMax.TV

“I am healthy and I am just trying now to slowly work my way back into match shape,” he added after completing his first tournament since March of last year when he was a semi-finalist at the Manitoba Open in Winnipeg.

Seeded No.2 as reigning champion at the US$6,000 Atlanta event, Binnie cruised past Pakistan’s Syed Hamzah Bukhari 3-0 (11-3, 11-9, 11-5) in just 39 minutes in his opening game and then stopped the sixth seed Mark Broekman in the quarterfinals. Binnie, 32, dropped the second game against the Briton before completing an 11-5, 8-11, 11-9, 11-4 triumph in 55 minutes.

The nine-time Caribbean champion was beaten in his semifinal match 11-9, 11-4, 11-4 by the American Faraz Khan, who emerged champion after toppling the No.1 seed Chris Gordon 3-0 in Sunday’s final.

Sidelined by Covid-19 lockdown protocols and an inability to train properly, Binnie missed most of the 2020 Professional Squash Association (PSA) World Tour and was battling rivals in Atlanta who had already returned to competition for several months.

“Of course it was tough, I wasn’t fully match ready and some of the guys there in Atlanta were able to play in some parts of the world because there were some areas that were open for some time. The guy (Faraz) who beat me, this is like his sixth tournament already for the season. He’s been playing (competitively) since like January this year,” Binnie said.

Connecticut-based Binnie had defeated Canadian David Baillargeon in the 2020 Atlanta Open final last year February, coming from 9-3 down in the first game to clinch the title 3-0. That Atlanta Open triumph marked Binnie’s fourth career PSA title and first since the 2017 Meadow Mill Open.

Binnie, now in his 10th year on the PSA Tour, has an all-time high world ranking of 65th but has slid to 83rd in recent months because of inactivity.

The 6’ 3” former Campion College (Kingston) and Trinity College (Hartford, Connecticut) student is targeting the Squash on Fire Open in Washington DC starting June 27 as his next outing.




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  • Top-seed Chris Binnie off to a winning start at Jamaica senior trials Top-seed Chris Binnie off to a winning start at Jamaica senior trials

    Top seed Chris Binnie got off to a strong start at the Jamaica Squash Association's senior trials defeating the number-five seed Bruce Burrowes in straight sets 11-9, 11-9 and 11-8 at the Liguanea Club in Kingston on Thursday.

    As the scores indicate, all three sets were competitive with Burrowes enjoying the lead over Binnie briefly in each set but was not able to convert any to a win.

     "Good game. I think that shows, you come, you have to play and everyone is competitive and today he (Burrowes) took it to me and it was really close so I am happy to get a 3-0 win and I am looking forward to tomorrow (Friday)," said the nine-time Caribbean men’s singles champion.

     "When you start playing events, you want to get that first win under your belt, you want to get that first match done with as well so little nerves to start getting used to the court. I am not based here so the courts I play on are a lot colder so getting used to all of that. I am super happy with how it ended. Hopefully tomorrow (Friday) I can be a little bit better and hopefully get another win."

    Despite the loss, Burrowes was not unhappy with his play.

    "Chris is a top notch player; Caribbean national player, Caribbean top player, top national player. He is definitely of a different level than the local boys that I am able to train with here but I was able to hold my own against him in the game with points 11-9, 11-9, 11-8,” he said.

    “That's not bad even though it’s a 3-0 loss. (I) just have to move on to the next match. Wish Chris all the best in the rest of his matches and just hope that Jamaica can put together our strongest team of these trials."

    The trials opened with number-four seed Dane Schwier defeating the number-six seed Stephan Morrison in straight sets.

    Meanwhile, reigning national champion and number-two seed Julian Morrison beat the U19 champion and number-seven seed Tobias Levy 3-0.

     The four-day trials to select Jamaica's team to the upcoming PanAm Games in June and the Senior Caribbean Squash Championship in August, continue on Friday with matches starting at 6:00 pm at the Liguanea Club.

  • Confident Tobias Levy dominates squash junior trials Confident Tobias Levy dominates squash junior trials

    A confident Tobias Levy dominated the Jamaica Squash Association's national junior trials for the U19 and U17 age groups for girls and boys at the Liguanea Club in Kingston. The trials ran from Friday March 17 to 19 with 16 players vying for spots to represent Jamaica at the Caribbean Junior Squash Championship in July.

    Competing in the U19 category, Levy, who also benefitted from a walkover, won three of his other four matches in straight sets but was taken the distance by Arjan Trehan, who eventually lost 5-2. At the end of it all, Levy won 15 of 17 games for a winning percentage of 88 per cent.

    Alex Chin, meanwhile, was second with a 12-8 win-loss margin while Rhys Greenland was third with 11-9 margin.

    Levy credits his dominance on the court to his work ethic.

    "I have been playing squash since I was young. I have been dominant from I came on the scene,” he said. “I would say my racquet skills and how smart I am on court definitely puts me above everyone else. I think I understand the game very well. I have been training hard. It's not just talent, I have been training hard from when I was young so it helps me stay dominant,” said Levy, who said winning the U19 category was crucial.

    "It means a lot, especially because I get to go represent my country as the best player in the junior age. It also feels good because I have a lot of competitors that are out for me and train hard to beat me but I keep training hard and play well so I stay dominant."

    Thomas Overton won his three matches to top the Boys U17 ahead of the very competitive Lucas Thompson.

    Savannah Thompson emerged top of the Girls U19 matches after beating Eleanor Hind in straight sets 3-0 before beating Katherine Risden 3-2.

    Risden finished second overall.

    Sanjana Nallapati did not drop a game to come out the victor in the Girls U17, despite being pushed by Mehar Trehan, who won half her six matches.

    Nallapati said that it was tough to play her.

    "Mehar and I go far back. It's always a tough battle because we are family and going against family is very tough because you don't want to whip them,” she said.

    “With the two of us it’s always a five setter. It’s been that way for a really long time and its never really known who is going to win. This time Mehar played phenomenally. I thought I played well as well. We definitely played at a high intensity like we usually do.

    "For the Caribbean Championship I hope to do extremely well."




    Vice President of the Jamaica Squash Association expressed optimism about Jamaica’s chances of doing well at the Caribbean Championships.

    "We have some strong players here in these categories, experienced players who have been to the Caribbean tournament before,” said Levy, who is also chairman of the selection committee.

    “I think we have a good opportunity to win a couple of categories and hopefully also the team event. Hopefully we can bring home the Caribbean trophy this year for the team event and one or two of the individual events as well. It would be great."

    The trials for the U15, U13 and possibly U11 players, will be held in June.

  • Guyana set to construct new G$65 million Squash facility in Georgetown to enhance ability to host international tournaments Guyana set to construct new G$65 million Squash facility in Georgetown to enhance ability to host international tournaments

    Guyana is set to build a new squash facility to enhance the country’s ability to host future international tournaments.

    The new facility, which will also have doubles courts for the first time in the country's history, will be built at the National Racquet Centre on Woolford Avenue in Georgetown and is funded by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport at the approximate cost of G$65 million, and should be ready for usage within six to eight months.

    Minister Charles Ramson Jr. made this announcement on Saturday and members of the Guyana Squash Association (GSA) and national players welcomed it with cheers after he further indicated that construction is to commence on January 9.

    In detailing some of the plans, the minister revealed the building would cost approximately G$25M while the internal fittings for the courts are about G$40M.

    To fast-track the process, the plan is to begin the installation of equipment at an appropriate point during construction so as not to wait until the building is finished to commence inputting the internal fittings.

    Noting it is a joint effort between the National Sports Commission (NSC) and GSA, the minister firmly believes the completion of this facility will place Guyana in good standing to host Central American and Caribbean (CAC), and Pan American Championships in the near future.

    “Once it is completed, we will be able to put our bids in of hosting senior games, and all of the sports we have identified as core sports, for which squash is one of them, we are looking to have the larger Championships being held here,” Ramson Jr. told the gathering.

    According to Ramson Jr., the aim is to host the Senior Pan American Championships which would be a “big achievement” for Guyana and it will increase the competitive pool.

    “It is important we set our targets early about what we want to do and take all of the sports and sports in general,” he lamented.

    There is also the “unquantifiable factor” of inspiring the next generation to represent Guyana by being able to see top-level athletes compete in Guyana, and ideally, create a winning culture.

    Additionally, Director of Sport, Steve Ninvalle, who had touted the construction of the courts in July as Guyana prepared to host the Junior Caribbean Area Squash Association (CASA) Championships, noted its importance that infrastructural development is vital to support the developing Sport Academies.

    “This shows that we are doing exactly what we said we would do. I know we are speaking about squash but other disciplines will be able to have this sort of support from the government,” Ninvalle expressed.

    Owen Verwey, GSA President, expressed similar by stating, “I am very much impressed that we have moved from the stage of speaking to now seeing implementation in a real form, that does not always happen but where we are going with the reality, is going to take us to a much higher level.”

    Adorning that Guyana’s squash has done tremendously well within the Caribbean, this facility will help them make an impact at the international level, and it boosts their capacity to do more intense training.

    Meanwhile, the minister said the works on the tennis court will soon be completed and construction will continue on the home for badminton and table tennis, with the foundation already being laid.

    The National Racquet Centre opened in November 2011.


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