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)

England Suffer World Team Championship Blow

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Top seeds England have suffered a major blow on the eve of next week’s Women’s World Team Squash Championship in New Zealand.

World number three Alison Waters has been forced to withdraw from the team due to injury. The squad number two from London is still struggling with an Achilles injury sustained during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Sarah Kippax (Left) takes world number 3, Alison's place in New Zealand.

Sarah Kippax, the world No24, has come into the England team as a replacement – and has already joined her team-mates Jenny Duncalf, Laura Massaro and Tania Bailey in the North Island city of Palmerston North.

Whilst this is unlikely to have any impact on the tournament seedings (the World Championship Rules stipulate that they would need to move out of the top four for a change to be made), a decision from the World Squash Federation seeding panel is expected soon.

England coach Fiona Geaves is philosophical about the loss of Waters. She says it is obviously a major blow to lose their second string player, but these things happen in squash.

“We’ve still got a strong squad so we’re still coming into the tournament believing we can win the event,” explained the former world number five.

Geaves says Waters is understandably disappointed.

“I’ve spoken to her – she’s been texting the girls wishing them good luck of course. It’s always a bitter thing not being part of a World Team Championship when you know your team has a very good chance of winning the event.”

Kippax arrived in New Zealand a day after her teammates, with team management taking the precaution of flying her to Palmerston North just in case Waters was ruled out. Geaves says that has turned out to be a good decision.

“New Zealand for us is obviously a very long way (to travel) – if it was in Holland we know that we could call whoever we want and get them over, but with this trip we thought, just to cover ourselves, let’s get an extra player just in case.”

Kippax is excited about representing her country, albeit at the expense of an injured teammate. The 27-year-old only found out late last week that she may be needed in New Zealand, but has arrived ready and raring to go. She says she is playing well at the moment and her fitness is good so hopefully that will show on court.

“Obviously it is a big blow to the team to lose Alison – she is one of the world’s best players. But hopefully I can just do my best and bring a little bit of extra strength to the team.”

The biennial week’s Women’s World Team Championship, featuring 16 nations, will be staged for the 17th time since 1979 at SquashGym in Palmerston North, from 29 November to 4 December.

Six-time champions England finished as runners-up in 2008 in Cairo, where Egypt celebrated a popular maiden triumph on home soil.

Official website: www.womensworldsquash2010.co.nz

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