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Jamaica shuttle off build-up with clash against Cuba
Kwesi Mugisa, Staff Reporter
JAMAICA'S BADMINTON team hopes to shuttle their preparations for the 2006 Commonwealth Games, scheduled for Melbourne in March, into high gear when they take on a Cuban contingent in two practice games.
They are scheduled for 7:00p.m. today and also tomorrow at the Constant Spring Golf Club's badminton hall.
Representing Jamaica will be 2005 national champion Bradley Graham, Garron Palmer, Alya Lewis and Olympian Nigella Saunders.
The Cuban contingent consists of four players who were either champions or runners-up from their recent national champion-ships held in Havana in December. The players are Yunier ?lvarez Bernal, Oslenis Guerrero Velasco, Solangel Guzm?n P?rez and Isaura Medina Marrero. They are accompanied by their technical director Marina P?rez L?pez.
Cuba were the winners of last year's Caribbean Regional Badminton Confederation (CARE-BACO) team championships in Havana, Cuba. The Jamaican's competing without their senior women placed second in that championships after losing 4-1 to Cuba.
The Cuban's are also expected to take part in this weekends Tournament of Kings, which officially opens the Jamaica Badminton Association's 2006 season.
Graham who is ranked 267th and Palmer 291st, will lead Jamaica's charge at the event, but it will be a tall order to stop Cuban Yonier ?lvarez Bernal who is ranked internationally at 193rd.
A notable absentee from the event will be Charles Pyne, who at 231 is the island's highest ranked player internationally.
Scholastic commitments made the player unavailable for the tournament. Though Saunders remains the main hope in the women's contingent, a good showing is expected from young Shenelle Peart, Jamaica's top female junior. Peart was a double gold medallist in last year's (under 17) CACBC Junior Championships.
A total of 72 entries have been received for this event, inclusive of entries from four Cubans.