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)

CWG 2010: Q-Finals, Session 1

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RESULTS: Commonwealth Games Squash Championships, Delhi, India

Men’s quarter-finals:
[1] Nick Matthew (ENG) bt [7] Cameron Pilley (AUS)
11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (54m)
[3] Peter Barker (ENG) bt [8] Stewart Boswell (AUS)
10-12, 11-9, 11-3, 11-3 (73m)
[6] Mohd Azlan Iskandar (MAS) bt [4] Daryl Selby (ENG)
11-6, 7-11, 13-11, 13-11 (135m)
[2] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [5] David Palmer (AUS)
9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-5 (111m)

Women’s quarter-finals:
[3] Alison Waters (ENG) bt [12] Joelle King (NZL)
12-10, 9-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-2 (60m)
[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) bt [7] Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL)
11-8, 11-4, 12-10 (40m)
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [5] Laura Massaro (ENG)
11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (29m)
[6] Kasey Brown (AUS) bt [4] Madeline Perry (NIR)
5-11, 6-11, 14-12, 11-9, 12-10 (84m)

Commonwealth Games,
Expect the Unexpected

(Note: Next 2 paragraphs contain rants about our misadventures earlier this morning… please skip to the 3rd paragraph for squash news.)

The over-crowded Metro Rail.

Today is team Squash Stars’ first day covering the games at the Siri Fort Complex. After sight-seeing in rural India the past few days… we were looking forward to some good squash and familiar faces! The excitement started off very early in the morning when we boarded the Metro train to the Green Park stop from Delhi City. The trauma of the sardine packed trains were nothing compared to what we had to endure later when we proceeded to purchase our tickets to enter the complex; but purchasing the tickets…or rather walking over 6700 steps (on our pedometer) looking for the ticket booth was still nothing compared to what awaited us at the security checkpoint before entering the complex. Our coins and sweets were confiscated; coins because we could potentially injure the athletes if we wished to throw our money at them and the sweets… I really didn’t bother asking for an explanation. Apparently EATABLES (edibles?) are not allowed in the complex. The other odd thing they wanted to confiscate was our friend’s iPod earphones… because MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS and WIRES were not allowed. This is where we drew the line and created a big fuss until the security chief permitted us to enter with it, however with a stern warning of, “tomorrow, don’t bring”.

So for those of you who intend to watch Squash tomorrow at Siri Fort, please take note that you are only allowed your cell phones, dollar bills and the clothes on your back. Everything else will be confiscated.

So… About the Squash!

We walked into Siri Fort Squash Complex just as the first match of the day was playing. Alison Waters of England was leading Joelle King of New Zealand 3-1 in the first set. It was all Alison until 2-6 when Joelle started picking up her feet­, leveling the game at 7-7. The Kiwi hard-hitter was gunning for the finish and was surprising the third seed of the tournament by playing it point-for-point before Alison wrapped up the game at 12-10.

Joelle came back with all guns firing in the second set. She was leading all the way too before Alison started defending her ground, breaking even at 7-7. The referees made some pretty good calls in this set as the girls were playing it very tight in the T. The rally was pretty long and tough and at the tie, Joelle hit a hard winner to take the lead at 8-7. Alison fought back, and it was point-for-point again, but it was clear that this set belonged to Joelle who finished it with a beautiful drop to the front, for the win, 11-9.

In the third set, a different Joelle returned on court. She seemed to have lost a bit of steam and made many unforced errors, allowing Alison a strong lead. She never made it back up, and at 9-3, Alison delivered an elegant crosscourt volley to the front; 10-3. Joelle only managed to pick up 2 more points, but Alison delivered to England, 11-5.

I’m not sure what Anthony Ricketts told Joelle, but she came back in the fourth, fierce. Both girls were playing some deep shots to the back; Joelle was hitting harder and harder with each shot. Alison played some of her best deceptive shots in this set, wowing the crowd. Some tough rallies with Alison always in the lead until she missed a few backhand shots allowing Joelle to level it at 5-5. It was all point-for-point, yet again… with many low drops and near misses and both girls scrambling to control the T. However, some unfortunate errors by Alison followed by some hard hits by Joelle, gave New Zealand hope of entering the Semi-Finals. The score was 12-10 with the game tied at 2-2.

We were expecting an exciting decider, but Joelle seemed a little out of sorts. She seemed to have lost her drive to win and Alison just rode on a wave of points to the finish it at 11-2. It was the world number four’s second victory over the Kiwi this year.

“I’ve only played Joelle once before – but I knew she’d be tough,” said 26-year-old Waters. “She hits the ball well and hard. When I changed things around and brought in a bit of variety, it all came together for me.”

“I’m glad to get through – winning that last game like I did gives you confidence. Knowing I can play like that in the fifth gives me a boost. I’ve had more experience than Joelle, and I think that was the key in the fifth.”

“It’s exciting to be in the semi-finals of the Commonwealth Games – that’s pretty cool! Not many people can say that they’ve competed in the Games.”

“It would be great to play Jenny in the semis as at least one of would get a medal,” added Waters.

Alison’s Dream Come Through

Team-mate Duncalf then obliged, ending the hopes of another New Zealander by beating seventh seed Jaclyn Hawkes 11-8, 11-4, 12-10.

There really isn’t much to write about this game except that Jenny played really well. She kept Jaclyn at bay from the get-go. I guess to wake this sleep deprived writer; Jenny crashed her racquet into the side of the wall in the early onset of the third game when Jaclyn was leading 3-1. Jen’s new racquet only warmed up at 2-4 with a low boast to the front and proceeded to pick up a string of points after… 7 in a row to take a 9-4 lead.

Jaclyn, probably realising then that she didn’t have anything to lose but to play her shots, raced back up to 8-9. Jenny was clearly frustrated, (the racquet momentarily left her hand for the floor) and Jaclyn took advantage to even it out at 9-9 when the referees awarded her for a stroke. But Jenny picked up the pace and took at 10-9 lead only to be frustrated yet again by another stroke for Jaclyn. It was clear that even at 10-10, it was Jenny’s game as the world number 2 pressed on to wrap the game up at 12-10 when the Kiwi bowed out with a missed backhand opportunity from the back.

“I felt good out there today – it’s always good to get through in three,” said second seed Duncalf. “I maybe switched off slightly in the third – so I was pleased not to go to a fourth.”

“You can’t let up for one minute against these girls – you can’t get complacent. As soon as you sit back for a couple of points, the momentum goes.”

Asked if she was boosted by her team-mate’s earlier win, Duncalf replied: “Yes, it’s great to see your team-mates do well. There’s a great togetherness about the squad – we all look out for each other.”

“Ali and I are sharing tonight – so I might have to think of a few tricks!”
Underdog Hawkes admitted later she had been relaxed going into the game:
“I had nothing to lose.”

“Jenny’s racket skills are so good. If you play a loose ball, you’ll find yourself in trouble. She just played better than me today.”

“If I’d managed to take the third, she might have tightened up a bit. Even though she can come back from losing a game, I felt I had it in me to take it to a fifth.”

The 27-year-old from Auckland will now turn her attention to the Doubles: “I think our chances in the doubles are really good. We’ve got a real good shot to win.”

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