A leader among her peers stands national junior squash champion Taylor Fernandes

first_imgTHERE’S no question about it, national champion Taylor Fernandes is by far Guyana’s best female junior squash player, solidifying her standing as she won her second consecutive national Girls’ Under-19 last weekend, when the Woodpecker Products Ltd Junior National Squash Championships concluded.It was an easy year for the Caribbean junior finalist with her top adversary Larissa Wiltshire out of the way. She’s now looking forward to hopefully leading Guyana to another successful Caribbean title in the Junior CASA Championships next July.And when it comes to being a leader, 18-year-old Taylor is one who’s not afraid to take the bulls by the horns.“What is good about Taylor is that she’s a great leader, she’s always looking to give extra, other than just on the squash courts,” said David Fernandes, Taylor’s dad, and a Guyana Squash Association (GSA) executive.Describing some of his daughter’s other great qualities as a squash player, Fernandes said: “She has a bunch of talent, she’s a good athlete, and her technique is really good,”This year will end Taylor’s eight-year run competing in the junior national and Caribbean championships. But while she has over the years succeeded in winning many a national title, she’s still chasing her first Caribbean title.The Marian Academy sixth-former had hoped that last year might have been her turn, but her compatriot and longtime opponent Larissa Wiltshire stopped her in her tracks, and claimed the Caribbean Girls’ Under-19 title. So this year is Taylor’s final chance to give it a go for that elusive Caribbean title.Notwithstanding, Taylor does not need a Caribbean title to feel proud of what she has accomplished as a squash player, saying that when she looks back over the years at how she has developed, she’s very satisfied with what she sees. So whether or not she gets a Caribbean title she’s still happy with how far she has come.“If it happens, it happens. If I don’t get it I’m not really going to be upset with myself. I see myself as having achieved what I wanted to achieve, but if I win the title that would be the icing on the cake,” Taylor expressed.Taylor FernandesTaylor admits that at first she was not that serious about taking up the sport competitively; she just enjoyed observing from the sideline, and attending matches to watch her sisters play. But then one day her cousin – world-ranked squash player Nicolette Fernandes put a racquet in her hand and told her it was time to do more than just watch.“At first I started off very slowly, I was never one to really push for it; but as I got older I realised the importance of it and how good I could be. So I kept improving and getting better and stronger, and here I am today,” Taylor shared of the experience.Finally, it was in 2009 that she captured her first title – the Girls’ Under-11 national champion. That year she was also adjudged the Most Improved Girl, and also got her first taste of competing at the Junior CASA tournament, in the individual category.The very next year she was selected to be on the national team at Junior CASA, and in Girls’ Under-13 individuals she made it all the way to the semi-finals. By 2012 she claimed the Girls’ Un-er 15 national title, and was also second in the Girls’ Under-17 category.She defended her Under-15 title in 2013, and was again awarded the Most Improved Girl for the year, and finished third in the Girls’ Under-17 category. She continued to place in the top three, until finally returning for another title last year, beating out Wiltshire for the Girls’ Under-19 national title before Wiltshire went on to get the better of her in the Caribbean match.As she looks to now enter the senior category, Taylor says she’s not really looking towards following in Nicolette’s footsteps and going pro. Nonetheless squash will still be something that she will always be passionate about.“It’s been tough (being a squash player), but squash has always been my main thing, even over academics.“Once exams are over the focus has always been squash, working with coach every single day.” Taylor said.“It teaches you a lot of discipline; you have to control your emotions and especially when you’re the captain, and being the oldest on the team, you have a lot of kids looking up to you and you always have to give it your best, and keep focused.”A Level II coach, Taylor says as she gets older and advances, she would like to continue in the sports as a coach.last_img