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 World Open Moment

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The gorgeous Savoy Hotel where we stayed.

A brand new location this year at the Soho Square in Sharm El Sheikh and it was one of the most luxurious venues to stage the World Open. Everyone stayed at the Savoy Hotel, a beach resort with great facilities for a proper holiday getaway. I can speak for most of the squash players that we certainly made the most of the pool, beach and food available to us!

The glass court and now two brand new permanent squash courts built specially for this event was a 5-minute walk from the hotel. During the day, we were practicing outdoors on the glass court and I was getting a slight tan while my sunglasses helped with my focus on the ball. Both Liz and I seem fine with a little extra colour from the sun throughout the week.

Pictured with my knight in shinning armour here!

Round 1 with Farah

Farah Abdel Meguid from Egypt qualified after beating Amanda Sobhy so I knew this would be an interesting first round for me. This is probably her first time in the main draw of a World Open and I think she took some time to get into her game. I got good control throughout the match to win in 3 games but she showed some quality shots—as most Egyptians are known for making.

Round 2 with Raneem

Another Egyptian and this time Raneem El Weleily is up for a challenge. It was high tempo right through and I could not afford to let up an inch. I played a some tight drives down the wall and got very steady with my selection of shots. She took the ball early and made me work hard for each point but she also made a few errors that cost her the lead at times. This lead kept me going til I won the match 3-0.

Quarter finals with Wee Wern

Playing Low Wee Wern is certainly an experience especially when we’re the only other nation apart from England that has 2 players from the same country in the quarter finals. It’s also tough to play a fellow team mate but both of us went in and played a good match. I had 2 days on the glass court already and that gave me an advantage. She had to get going somehow but I wanted to keep the intensity up to eventually win it 3-0.

Semi finals with Alison

Alison Waters has had a string of matches with me recently and each one of them have always been a battle. This certainly was another one of those matches. The first game was high paced with both keeping each other out of an attacking position. We knew the next person would take it if there was a chance. I took the first game being game ball down and had a roll through the second game. It was very humid that day compared to the previous days and both of us were feeling the heat by the end of the match. A tough one to win but glad I managed it in 3 games.

Finals with Omneya

Meeting Omneya Abdel Kawy in the finals of the World Open is like going back in time when we both played in Penang for the World Junior Open title in 2001. The hype now turned around and I was in her home country instead. The atmosphere definitely filled the air and both of us were firing from the start of the match. I felt really good and focused, which got me the lead and the first game win. In the second game, Omneya just played some amazing winners in a row to take the lead. I then began to force the intensity back at her and she made a few mistakes that got me back up on the score board. In the third game, there were more errors from her while I stayed solid with my game. At match ball, I could feel her relaxing, taking every opportunity to go for a winning shot. Still determined to stay in with her, I stopped her from getting more points and won the match and the title.

It didn’t feel real when she shook my hand and we both walked out of the court together, that it was finally over. The hard work put in and everything that went in with it has paid off and I couldn’t believe that I won. Only now as I’m writing this, it’s slowly starting to sink in a bit but it’s truly the best feeling ever! I was especially glad that my parents could see me win this title here too.

I’m happy with my performance and focus last week. Just excited to bring this forward onto Delhi. Look out for the Malaysian team at the Commonwealth Games next week!


See you in Delhi! :)