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 Commonwealth Games Dream Come True

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The Games was finally here and every Commonwealth nation was set to compete for their country in Delhi. Liz and I arrived in the Games Village, welcomed by the Malaysian contingent officials and squash team into our five bedroom apartment. We were sharing with the Malaysian table tennis team so it was good company throughout the duration of the Games.

The glass court of the Siri Fort Complex

The competition venue at the Siri Fort Squash Complex was spectacular. The glass court and 10 courts are one of the best in the world and were definitely ready to host the top players for an exciting Games.

Round 2 against Damindhi of Sri Lanka, 11-2, 11-4, 11-2 (18m)

Many of us got a bye in the first round. I played Sri Lankan Damindhi Udangawa in my first match and she managed to get into the swing of things in the third game. Some of her shots came in but I worked my lengths well to win 3-0.

Round 3 against Joshna of India, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7 (29m)

Played Joshna Chinappa and it was a lot of attacking shots headed her way and I was keeping her out of her comfort zone as much as I could in the first but the second went her way til 9-3. I didn’t want it to slip away too easily and fought hard to level it but she got game  ball and served out to get to deuce, giving me the opportunity to take it and win the next game for the match.

Quarter finals against Laura Massaro of England, 11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (28m)

Laura Massaro and I were finding our rhythm at the start as our scores were close. In the middle of the first, my shots were tighter and I kept onto it right through that game and the next 2 games. Coming from the side courts into the glass court today, she may have mistimed a few shots that made her step back slightly throughout the rallies. I won it 3-0 but I knew she wasn’t playing at her best.

Semi finals against Kasey Brown of Australia, 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 (38m)

After a great comeback last night against Madeline Perry in five games—surprise semi finalist and fellow Squash Stars Ambassador Kasey Brown brought her game on right from the very beginning. However, I felt really good being in the semis myself and played a very steady match with one focus in mind and that is to work hard and move well. It definitely worked out for me and Kasey also started to make a couple of mistakes at times. No doubt it was intense but the scores in those 3 games didn’t show how tough it was out there.

Finals against Jenny Duncalf of England, 11-3, 11-5, 11-7 in (38 mins)

My very first finals in the Commonwealth Games and I was meeting Jenny Duncalf in probably our 5th final of a major event this year. I was well hyped to get going and step on that court to start our match. The crowd packed up the complex and the atmosphere was buzzing. All I could think of was that I had no other way of getting through this final without a tough battle. Jenny and I kept some high-paced rallies going in the first game. As the match went on, I was fuelled by adrenaline. She made a few errors as she was trying to play more winners. In the third game, she was slightly relaxed while coming out with some amazing shots as I was leading but I needed to stay with her til the end. It ended with a stroke awarded to me. Not the way I would have liked it to end but once I heard that I won, everything was a whirlwind around me. Nothing can describe how I felt that very moment.

Finally in my hands!

As the medal winners got called onto court to stand on the podium, I still couldn’t believe all that was happening. Once my name was announced as the Gold Medal winner and I actually stood on the podium, I was on such a high. Hearing the Malaysian National anthem during the flag raising is definitely a memorable moment for me and I will cherish that always.

A good result in the Mixed Doubles with my partner Ong Beng Hee as we managed to get the Bronze medal to finish a fantastic Games. Thanks Beng Hee, for keeping me in good form throughout the doubles event. It wasn’t easy bringing my focus together after winning in the Individuals but he was very supportive and positive during our matches.

Beng Hee & me with our bronze medals

Thanks once again to our SquashStars crew for being the true support team in Delhi. Also, to everyone who has been supporting me, a big THANK YOU always!

Get your sombreros ready as the next tournament is in Mexico!

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