Cayman Islands Go Gold For WISPA

An increase in the prize fund has led to the 2010 Women’s Cayman Islands Squash Open going Gold, according to an announcement today by the Women’s International Squash Players’ Association.

The $55,300 WISPA World Tour event – the third Gold event of the year, from 11-17 April – will be staged for the first time on an all-glass court erected at Camana Bay, a 500-acre shopping, entertainment, office and residential complex stretching from the Caribbean sea to the North Sound in Grand Cayman.

Launched in 2009, the Cayman Islands Open has again attracted the world’s top players, led by Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David, with Natalie Grainger, in-form Jenny Duncalf, and contenders Rachael Grinham and Alison Waters all in the mix. Grainger will be making her return to the WISPA Tour in Grand Cayman after a seven-month layoff with a foot injury.

Indeed, the draw predicts a quarter-final meeting between David and Grainger – a repeat of last year’s final, won by the Malaysian!

Meanwhile, Cayman number one Marlene West, the main draw wild card, faces the daunting prospect of meeting 2007 world champion Rachael Grinham in the opening round.

Tournament Director Dan Kneipp is delighted to be welcoming back the sport’s top women: “The Cayman Islands National Squash Association is extremely excited to host the world’s best players to our Caribbean Island.

“We are very pleased to be able to increase our WISPA World Tour championship to the Gold level. Cayman has never seen a pro tournament played on a glass show court, so we know that there will be a lot of enthusiasm and public interest as this is set up on the waterfront at Camana Bay.

“Having eight of the world’s top 10 squash players is creating an enormous buzz in Cayman as we prepare to watch the world’s best competing for our international title.

“The WISPA pros were a huge asset to our junior squash last year, helping hundreds of kids experience the sport for the first time,” Kneipp added. “We again have 14 schools that will be doing workshops and watching the pro matches and we expect this to be an invaluable tool in helping us get more Caymanian juniors into squash.

“The Cayman Islands National Squash Association also sees this as an incredible experience for our Commonwealth Games team as we prepare for Delhi 2010. For a young, amateur team to be playing alongside the world’s best professional will only add to our team’s experience and ability to compete at an international level.

“We welcome the world’s best players and the international squash media to the Cayman Islands in April.”

WISPA CEO Andrew Shelley added: “It is always very satisfying to see an event build, and that is certainly the case with the Cayman Islands Open. The debut last year was memorable for being awash with local school children trying squash at the South Sound Squash Club every day.

“This year juniors will doubtless be a major feature again, but bringing in a glass show court too in the superb outside setting of Camana Bay will be yet another great step forward in raising the profile of squash on the Island and pushing the delights of the Cayman Islands to squash enthusiasts worldwide.”

An all-glass court to be erected at Camana Bay

1st round draw:

[1] Nicol David (MAS) v Qualifier

[6] Natalie Grainger (USA) v Qualifier

[3] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Marlene West (CAY)

[5] Madeline Perry (IRL) v Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL)

[8] Kasey Brown (AUS) v Samantha Teran (MEX)

[4] Alison Waters (ENG) v Qualifier

[7] Laura Massaro (ENG) v Qualifier

[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Camille Serme (FRA)

Grainger Steps Down From WISPA Tour

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Natalie, pictured at the 32nd Annual Salute to Women in Sports Gala in New York City.

Squash fans around the world are sad to see US number one Natalie Grainger has decided to bring to an end to a distinguished career lasting 14 “glittering” years at the top of her sport.

Grainger announced her decision to retire from the WISPA World Tour at the Women’s World Team Championship farewell dinner in New Zealand at the weekend.

Before reaching the age of three, Grainger was thrust into the world of squash by her mother, British champion Jean Grainger (nee Wilson), and played at her parents’ own squash centre in Johannesburg.

She first made her mark on the international stage after reaching the quarter finals of the World Junior Championships both in 1993 and 1995, whilst competing as a South African.

At only 17 years old, Grainger was the youngest player to be selected for the South African senior side in 1994.

She became the highest-ranked South African of all-time in 1999 when she reached seventh in the world rankings, an achievement that still stands.

Qatar Classic 2003: Natalie beat world number one Carol Owen 10-9 ,9-7, 9-10, 9-4 in the final showdown.

After moving to the USA in 2002 she transferred her allegiance to her new country of residence and in 2007 became a US citizen.

But it was in June 2003 that Grainger became world number one for the first time. She went on to reach 44 WISPA World Tour finals in her career (including the British Open in 2004) and won 23 titles.

Grainger says her proudest moment in gaining those titles was winning the $105,000 Qatar Classic in Dec 2003.

Panamerican Champion 2007

In 2007, Grainger clinched the gold medal in the Pan-American Games and won her fourth US National title in March this year.

During her time away from the court Grainger has also contributed greatly to the sport in her position on the WISPA Board. She was elected the Association’s President in 2003 and Principal in 2010.

“Natalie has made an outstanding contribution to squash both on and off court. She is leaving a big footprint on the game,” said WISPA Chairman Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer.

“In her role as board member and then WISPA President for the last seven years, she has been a tower of strength – particularly during the last couple of years, when she has frequently forsaken her playing career for the good of WISPA and the game of squash.

“She has inspired a whole generation of players with her ‘never-say-die’ mentality and larger than life personality. Her achievements on court speak for themselves – she has enjoyed a truly glittering career, in spite of numerous injuries.

“Natalie’s warm, engaging and outgoing personality – coupled with a natural talent – is second to none,” added the Chairman. “She will be very much missed on the WISPA Tour – but fortunately we’ll still benefit from her involvement in squash in the future.”

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