JOSH PINARD will be returning after over five years away tonight when the sport of squash comes back after a one-year break with the QPCC (Queen’s Park Cricket Club) Mediterranean Shipping Graded Open Tournament at the Indoor Racquet Centre, Queen’s Park Oval, St Clair.
The three-day competition will be the first in the country since a similar graded tournament took place in the middle of March in 2021 and that was the first squash competition since a month before the first Covid-19 shutdown in the mid-March 2020.
Former national champion Paul Jerome De Verteuil won the Division A titles in both tournaments and is the top seed here. The quality field of 15 also includes Brandon De Montrichard, Julian Chin, 12-time national champ Richard Hart, Pinard and Seth Thong, who reached the last 32 in the Under-15 division of the United States Open Junior Championship in December.
The 14-year-old Thong, who reached the final of the last Graded tournament a year ago, is the brightest local prospect since Pinard was a junior player himself about 15 years ago.
Fans never got to see the best from this former national champion because he also loved football and was usually juggling both sports. As faith would have it, Pinard’s first competitive match in six years will be at seven o’clock tonight against his long-time coach David Stone.
Marie Claire Barcant, who earned three medals in the CASA (Caribbean Area Squash Association) Junior Championship a few years ago, is the only female in the Division A draw.
Rhea Khan, who has won more national senior titles than anyone else in this country, has been demoted and will be competing in the second division.
The 46-year-old, 18-time national champ will begin her campaign against Lloyd Rochard at 7 p.m. today.
Fellow national players Jamie Leigh Edghill and Chloe Walcott, the 2019 national Under-17 and -19 champ, are also in the 16-draw.
The Division C event is also a 16-draw and the field includes former national Under-13 player Mya Francois and Thong’s younger sister Josie, the Under-11 bronze-medallist in Junior CASA three years ago. First serve today is 4 p.m.