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)

The Australian Women’s Team

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Fitz-Gerald, Grinham to make Australian comebacks

Commonwealth Games 2002: Sarah Fitz-Gerald and Rachael Grinham in the Semi Finals.

Australian squash great Sarah Fitz-Gerald and former world number one Rachael Grinham will make their Australian comebacks at the Women’s World Teams Championship in the New Zealand city of Palmerston North from November 29-December 4.

Fitz-Gerald and Grinham will join New South Wales pair Kasey Brown and Donna Urquhart in the Australian team, which will be managed by Fitz-Gerald’s former teammate and great rival, Michelle Martin.

Fitz-Gerald retired from the world tour in 2003 but has remained incredibly fit and still plays in the A Grade men’s competition in Melbourne.

The 41-year-old, who was inducted into the Sport Australia Hall of Fame last month, has won five individual world titles and five team titles, as well as five Australian Opens and two British Opens.

Grinham last played for Australia at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne but had made herself unavailable since then due to a falling out with officials.

However, Grinham and Squash Australia have enjoyed better relations in recent months and the 33-year-old from Toowoomba contacted Squash Australia after the Delhi Commonwealth Games and expressed interest in rejoining the Australian set-up.

Grinham played for Australia at the 2002 and 2004 Women’s World Teams Championships, winning the title in 2002 in a team that also included Fitz-Gerald.

“It’s very exciting to welcome Sarah and Rachael back into the team,” Martin said.

“Rachael’s current record speaks for itself – she’s been one of the top players on the women’s tour for a decade now and on her day she can beat anyone in the world.

“And Sarah is simply a living legend of the sport. Although she’s been ‘retired’ since 2003 I think she still plays almost every day.

“With Kasey and Donna thrown into the mix, Australia have gone from outsiders at the tournament to one of the favourites.”

Squash Australia CEO Gary O’Donnell stressed that the selections of Fitz-Gerald and Grinham were a huge boost for Australian squash.

“Once Rachael expressed an interest in coming back we welcomed her with open arms, while Sarah will give the team much needed experience, as well as her undoubted talent,” O’Donnell said.

“We have some gifted young women coming through, led by Kasey Brown and Donna Urquhart, who will both build on their Delhi success through this team.

“We can do well now and create momentum at this early stage for Glasgow in 2014.”

O’Donnell said Queensland’s Lisa Camilleri would be the non-travelling reserve and would remain in Melbourne to train with former world number one Vicki Cardwell.

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