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)

Sharm El Sheikh: Semi Finals Report

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RESULTS: Sharm El Sheikh Open, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

[1] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [4] Nour El Tayeb (EGY) 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 (34m)
[2] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) bt [6] Heba El Torky (EGY) 11-4, 14-12, 11-4 (26m)

Top Seeds To Share Sharm El Sheikh Final

In their sixth meeting this year, England’s Laura Massaro will face Egyptian Raneem El Weleily in the final of the Women’s Sharm El Sheikh Open after surviving straight games semi-finals in the $29,500 WISPA World Tour squash event at the Laguna Vista Hotel in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh.

Massaro, the top seed from Preston, overcame rapidly-rising Egyptian star Nour El Tayeb, the 17-year-old fourth seed who leapt into the WISPA world top 20 earlier this month for the first time.

The 27-year-old world No9 started strongly, keeping El Tayeb under pressure behind her. Despite a couple of unforced errors, Massaro was in control for much of the game before taking a one-love lead.

The Egyptian teenager worked hard in the second, first to retrieve and then to look for the volley winner. It paid dividends as she opened up a 9-5 lead – but Massaro responded with four quick points to level. Two poor volley errors from the youngster gave Massaro the second game.

Having established a 4-1 lead in the third, the favourite maintained a stranglehold on the match to the end, finally closing it out 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 after 34 minutes.

“I thought I played really well today – I’m really pleased with this performance, especially against somebody as dangerous as she is,” Massaro told www.squashsite.com afterwards. “And I needed to play as well as that to beat her.

“But for a 17-year-old, to move like that and play that type of shots, it’s really impressive,” concluded the England international, now in her 14th Tour final.

El Weleily set up a final featuring the top two seeds with a composed victory over sixth-seeded compatriot Heba El Torky. Using her silky skills to good effect, the 21-year-old second seed had the industrious El Torky covering all four corners of the court on the way to taking the first game.

However, undaunted El Torky stepped up the pace in the second to open up several leads. But the 19-year-old from Alexandria failed to capitalise on three game balls – going down 14-12 as El Weleily found a couple of volley drop winners to edge home.

El Weleily quickly built up a 5-0 lead before her opponent regained her focus – but further errors helped the No2 seed to push through to claim her 11-4, 14-12, 11-4 victory in 26 minutes.

The world No11 from Alexandria said she was very happy to reach the final: “Heba and myself we’ve been playing each other for a long time – last year, she beat me in Hurghada, and at the Nationals, and I won in Heliopolis, we always have epic battles!

“She plays a very random squash, you never know the shot she is going to play until she actually plays it, you have to keep on your toes constantly, especially on that court where the ball dies at the front,” added El Weleily, on the eve of her sixth Tour final.