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)

Journey to India

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2010 started off with excitement as Team SquashStars decided to make Commonwealth Games (CWG) Delhi 2010 our debut overseas coverage. From mainly covering tournaments in Malaysia, the team felt the time was right to venture into something bigger and CWG was apt, being the pinnacle of squash accolades apart from the annual World Open.

We started making plans very early in the year to capitalize on good flight and hotel rates. Next, we  blocked out dates for squash coverage (since that was the main purpose of our trip) but we had to tour around “Incredible India” as well! We had a 3-day chunk to utilize and the obvious decision was made—we chose to visit the Golden Triangle consisting of Delhi, Agra (home to Taj Mahal, the monument of love) and Jaipur.

Before we knew it, June came by. We purchased our squash tickets for the Games via the CWG site (which was not the easiest system to use) but once that was sorted, we were set to go! Or so we thought.

The weeks after that saw India in the global limelight—under a red, negative lense. It seemed that numerous problems plagued the prestigious Commonwealth Games and the situation seemed to worsen with each passing day. Unfinished venues, collapsing facilities, dengue outbreak, monsoon rains, militant attacks… need I say more? Our hopes of live blogging were also dashed upon knowing that wifi and telecommunication lines were to be barred at Siri Fort Sports Complex, which played host to the squash games. Our attempts at getting a media pass ended in vain too.

There came a point when we reconsidered making this long-awaited trip. Was it worth the risk? Would the Games go on as scheduled? With so many qualms, we unanimously decided to watch the situation closely, keeping our fingers and toes crossed.

Today, a mere 2 days away from the Opening Ceremony, things are looking much more optimistic! The venues have gotten better reviews and thumbs up from athletes who have braved their way to Delhi amidst the chaos. It seems that as truthful as the media reports were, they were lopsided. The organizers in India have picked up their slack and gotten things in order.

We fly out to the capital of India tomorrow and we’re very excited! India could very well spring up an enchanting experience for us all at the Games. This is our sunny disposition.

Keep abreast with our daily blog and while you sit back to read squash updates, look out for stories on our adventures or misadventures as we explore North India.

Let the Games begin!

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