A WISPA RELEASE:

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)


My 2010 Asian Games Journey

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After playing all my WISPA events for this year, I was finally down to the last major Games for the year—the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.

Some say that the Asian Games Athletes’ Village was a replica of the one at the Beijing Olympics and we had the luxury of experiencing this in Guangzhou. The Competition venue was within the surroundings of the Games Village and that made travelling a lot easier for us squash players. I have never seen these art-form buildings being built specially for an event and we got to enjoy the facilities as well.

The Malaysian contingent got started on other events before our squash team began. The individual event was represented by the top 2 players of each country and this year was the first time the Asian Games introduced the team event too.

Individuals

Round 1 with Park Eun Ok of Korea
Park Eun Ok has been to many Asian tournaments and we’ve met a number of times. This time she really brought her best game out on court. We exchanged some long rallies throughout the match and at the end of the 3rd game, she started making some mistakes and I won 3-0.

Quarter finals with Dipika Pallikal of India

Pix with thanks to Glenn Guan of The Star.

Playing Dipika Pallikal is never easy especially with some of her deceptive shot plays and boasts that she brings into her game. It can be difficult to anticipate thus I was working hard to take those away from her. There were moments when I just got a roll with my own game and she began to hit the tin a little bit more at the end. It was a 3-1 win but it definitely felt longer.

Semi finals with Low Wee Wern of Malaysia
After having an amazing comeback being down 2-0 with Joshna Chinappa, Low Wee Wern came into the semis, probably not completely hundred percent on court. As she’s moved up the rankings, I still expected her to keep those rallies in play and I had to force the pressure on her when I could. The first game was close but in the second and third games, she stepped back slightly and I took the opportunities at the right time to win 3-0.

Finals with Annie Au of Hong Kong

Annie Au is a feisty young player pushing a lot of the top players in the circuit currently. This was her first Asian Games finals and she wanted it badly. Throughout the match, there was no particular time she ever let up. She was firing shots everywhere at any time she could put her racket onto the ball early enough. The intensity was high and we both played well, creating the hype with the exuberant atmosphere at the glass court. When we equalled at 1-1 in games, I needed to step up my play and take it on. I won 3-1 but was very pleased to win the Gold.

On to the Team Event

The team event was straight after the individuals and we got going right away. We beat Japan and Korea in our pool matches to make our crossover semi finals match against India.

Semis against India
In the match against India, we had our full team with me at number 1, Low Wee Wern at number 2 and Delia Arnold at number 3. Unfortunately, Dipika hurt her leg in the pool matches and they had to rest her when we played them. We won 2-0 with Wee Wern beating Anaka Alankamony 3-0 and I beat Joshna 3-0. Once there’s a clear 2-0 win, the third player doesn’t have to play.

Finals against Hong Kong

Pix with thanks to Glenn Guan of The Star.

It was Hong Kong in the finals and Wee Wern was up first against Rebecca Chiu. It was nerve wrecking because I hardly play team tournaments and watching teammates play is the hardest part. The match was really close and it could have gone either way but Wee Wern stood her ground to win that first point for Malaysia. I had to face Annie again and I was fired up after Wee Wern’s win that I went full speed ahead til I won 3-0. We were all overjoyed with this victory and it was even more special as we clinched the 9th Gold for the Malaysian Contingent.

The other results from the guys’ matches—Mohd Azlan Iskandar got the Individual Gold and Ong Beng Hee got the Bronze while the Men’s team got the Silver after losing to Pakistan in the finals.

The Asian Games was a success overall and the team gave it their best to do well in the Games. Thanks team for a fantastic result.

The Women’s World Teams was straight after and reports will follow. Another team experience!

Nicol


Extras!

Some video interviews with Nicol by SwitchUp.tv (thestaronline)

Part 1:

Part 2:

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