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)

Second Term as President

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WSF Re-Elects President Ramachandran At AGM

Member nations of the World Squash Federation have re-elected N Ramachandran as President for a second term at the WSF AGM in Chennai, India.

Mr Ramachandran, who first became the Federation’s first Indian President in 2008, won the AGM’s vote unopposed after the withdrawal of challenger Natalie Grainger (USA) earlier in the week.

The 40th WSF AGM, with 45 member nations in attendance, was held after two Conference days during which presentations and discussions on the central focus of the WSF Strategic plan took place. This involved the presentation and branding of the sport; the Olympic ideal; rules and development; as well as many general facets.

All topics were framed to help take the sport forward and encourage growth of participation together with a higher media profile.

The elections were held after the completion of general business – including bringing officer terms in line with the IOC; receiving reports from the nations; approving budgets and forward plans; etc.

Voting for the Vice President positions saw Heather Deayton (Hong Kong) re-elected for her third two year period, along with Chris Stahl (England) for his second spell. However, Gerard DeCourcy (New Zealand), Vice President for the last two years was beaten by Mohamed El Menshawy (Egypt), who was re-elected after previously serving in the WSF role.

“After two years in which I have prioritised our Olympic bid along with stabilising the WSF finances, I am honoured that the membership has seen fit to wish me to continue to build from this platform with our new management group,” said President Ramachandran.

“It is always disappointing to lose a valued team member as we have with Gerard DeCourcy, to whom I want to pay great tribute for everything he has done – but it is also very pleasing to welcome ‘Mensh’, who will add a new dimension.”

El Menshawy, the Managing Director of a Cairo Sports Marketing & Innovation company, expressed his pleasure: “I am very delighted to be back with the team and look forward to working hard to add value to the WSF.”

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