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)

Nicol takes Commonwealth Gold for Malaysia

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RESULTS: Commonwealth Games, Delhi, India

Women’s final:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 11-3, 11-5, 11-7 (40m)

Bronze medal play-off:
[6] Kasey Brown (AUS) bt [3] Alison Waters (ENG) w/o

Nicol David Finally Wins Commonwealth Games Gold

Nicol with her much awaited Commonwealth Gold medal.

At her fourth attempt, after competing in Squash’s maiden appearance in the Commonwealth Games in her home country in 1998 when just 15, Malaysia’s world number one Nicol David finally claimed gold when she beat England’s Jenny Duncalf, the world No2, in a convincing straight games victory in today’s women’s final at the Siri Fort Complex in Delhi.

David, who picked up a record-equalling fifth world title only two weeks ago and this month celebrated her 54th month as world No1, traded points with her WISPA Tour rival in the early exchanges – but, from three-all, the event favourite won eight points in a row to take the opening game.

After taking the second for five points, the Malaysian had to handle a late surge by Duncalf as the 27-year-old from Harrogate in Yorkshire battled to stay in the game.

But, after some inspiring rallies from both players, Nicol served for the match for the first time only to win the point on a stroke – thus giving the long-awaited gold medal to the Malaysian superstar for the first time.

The packed crowd screamed and whistled as Nicol David did a ‘lap of honour’ around the spectacular all-glass showcourt with the Malaysian flag draped around her shoulders.

“I’m so excited right now – it’s just so wonderful,” said the jubilant David after her 11-3, 11-5, 11-7 triumph.

“Jenny didn’t play her best today – but I had to take my opportunities.

“At match ball I just knew that I had to be ready to play the longest rally I’ve ever played. It wasn’t the best way to finish – but it meant winning gold! I was just on another planet.”

Was there a sense of relief in her win? “Yes – but at the same time I knew I had a great week, coming in from my success at the worlds – I had to be true to my game.”

And did she feel under pressure? “There will always be that, whatever I do – I feel I always have to win and in my mind I want to go for it.

“A Commonwealth Games gold medal is one of my highest achievements so far. The fact that it’s in a multi-sport event, which means so much for Malaysia, makes it even more important for me,” concluded the 27-year-old from Penang.

Duncalf admitted to mixed feelings about the outcome: “It’s a strange feeling – you come into a final hoping to win. But at the same time, winning a silver medal is one of my highest achievements. To get a silver medal is truly precious.

“I don’t think Nicol did a lot wrong – she didn’t really give me a look in. All credit to her – she’s a deserved winner.”

The third-place play-off match did not take place after England’s third seed Alison Waters was forced to withdraw following an Achilles injury sustained in the semi-final against Duncalf – giving the bronze medal to Australia’s sixth seed Kasey Brown.

“I’m pretty gutted,” said 26-year-old Londoner, who learned that she moved to a career-high world No3 in the women’s rankings today. “I had a scan today and have a slight tear on the Achilles tendon in my left leg. I’ll be out for a couple of weeks so I’m pretty disappointed.

“Having not lost to Kasey, I’d have felt confident against her – but she’s playing well at the moment. And in the doubles I had chances of medals in both events.

“But we’ve got strength in the team – we’ll still be pushing for medals.

“I’ll be staying here till the end – I’ll be their No1 supporter!

“And at least I’ve had some good news today by going to No3 in the world rankings,” added Waters.

For more info, visit the WSF’s dedicated Commonwealth Games site www.cwgsquash.com

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