FORMER junior champion Julian Morrison broke through to win his first senior national title while Mary Mahfood bounced back from hiatus to add a second crown to her tally at the All Jamaica Senior Squash Championships, which was held recently at the Liguanea Club in St Andrew.
The absence of nine-time national champion Chris Binnie heightened competitiveness in the men's draw with Morrison, former junior Caribbean champion, Jonathan Walker and other senior national players, including Tahjia Lumley and 2009 champion Dane Schwier, all in contention for the title. Morrison dispatched Schwier 11-6, 11-9, 11-3 in the semi-finals in which Walker toppled long-time rival Lumley 8-11, 11-1, 11-3, 7-11, 11-6 as the respective winners earned a place in the championship final for the first time their individual careers.
With everything to play for the in form Morrison held off Walker as both combatants pushed to the limit in a battle of skill and will. No sooner had Morrison taken the first game 11-9 than Walker came roaring back to even the score, winning the second round 11-9. The younger Walker then looked set to secure the lead as he moved ahead in the third game but Morrison dug deep to pull off another 11-9 win. The hard-fought third game tipped the scales in Morrison's favour and, after a number of unforced errors from his opponent, he claimed the fourth game 11-6 and won his first All Jamaica Senior title.
There was also stiff competition in the Ladies' draw when Mary Mahfood returned to action for the first time since winning the title in 2015. Mahfood fought off promising junior player Katherine Risden 11-9, 11-2, 11-7 in the quarter-finals, as well as the number one seed, reigning All Jamaica Under-19 girls champion Savannah Thomson 7-11, 11-2, 3-11, 12-10, 11-7 in a bruising semi-final to book her slot in the finals.
In the title match Mahfood went head-to-head with the number two seed, rising star Mia Todd. Todd had a more straightforward route to the final, not dropping a set as she dispatched Nathlee Boreland 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 in the quarter-finals and then Melissa Lue Yen 11-5, 11-4, 11-6 in the semi-finals. Mahfood, however, proved to be a much greater challenge and, although Todd took the first game, the former champion recovered form to win 7-11, 11-6, 14-12, 11-8.
Other category winners included Kyle Gregg who beat young Aman Dhiman, 11-8, 15-13, 8-11, 11-8 to take the Men's B title, and Nabeel Jawad who prevailed in a round robin fixture to win the Men's C draw. In the Men's Over 40 category Jerazeno Bell beat Mark Haddad 11-2, 11-2, 11-5 while Brian Yong turned back Warren Burrowes 7-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-4, 11-5 to win the Over 50 title. Tahjia Lumley and Melissa Lue Yen placed third in the Men's and Ladies' main draws, respectively, with Lue Yen beating Thompson 11-4, 12-10, 8-11, 10-12, 11-2 and Lumley winning 11-5, 12-10, 7-3 after Schwier retired injured in the third game. Additionally, Mia Todd won the David Bicknell Award for exemplary performance and sportsmanship in the Ladies' Competition while Allan Roper won the Tony Burrowes Award, the corresponding honour for the men.