Full speed ahead!

Squash pro Dean Watson says his sport is on the rise

Hurricane Ivan may have demolished the facilities of the Cayman Islands Squash Association, but it did little damage to the hopes and dreams of Cayman’s squash community. Coach Dean Watson is at the helm of a sport that is coming back fast and carries high hopes for big days on the horizon.

The wrecked courts should be ready for action again by June and the Junior Caribbean Squash Championships set for July in Trinidad (under-13s, under-15s, under-17s, under-19s) offer a chance for Cayman players to let off some steam. Ten Cayman juniors are confirmed to compete. They will be led by Chantelle Day, the defending under-19 Caribbean champion. It will be like a home match for her as she is already in Trinidad attending school. The team members are: Alain Mudeen, Chantelle Day, Samantha Henning’s, Jake Kelly, Tom Kelly, Jason Lee, Claire Patrick , Andrew Carter, Ryan McConvey and Patrick McConvey. Watson says his juniors have been hurt by lost time but will attack the tournament, nonetheless. Only in recent weeks has any court training been possible in Cayman, thanks to the courts at King Sports Center’s. Some of the juniors were or are away in other countries so they have had the opportunity to train and play matches.

‘These are resilient kids,’ said Watson. ‘They will be OK, I think. Their fitness should be allright; it will mostly be a question of their eye-hand coordination, hitting the ball and getting their timing back. We have three months of solid training to do, so we should be ready.’

In August, the senior Caribbean Squash Championships will be hosted by Bermuda. Cayman will send five men and five women, Watson says.

The biggest date of all on Cayman’s squash calendar, however, comes in March of next year as Cayman will be sending up to five players to the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.

Watson says he is pleased with the progress of Cayman’s youth program. He believes it is the foundation of the sport here and will continue grow stronger. Watson is grateful for government’s support of squash and says that once the association established the schools program it showed government that squash was worth investing in.

‘I’m optimistic about the next five years and beyond,’ added Watson. ‘We have a very good program in place.

‘The one thing we lack on this island is competition for our juniors. We need to put together some kind of a sponsorship package so that we can get these juniors off the island to compete in tournaments, even if it is just once or twice per year.’

This month Cayman was to have hosted the 40th anniversary of the Rose Bowl, a prestigious regional championship tournament, but Ivan’s destruction wiped out those plans. Watson says the tournament was cancelled for 2005 as no other Caribbean country was willing to serve as an alternative venue. Cayman is scheduled to host the Rose Bowl in 2006.

Watson, a former British star, says squash is an addictive and thrilling sport. ‘If you have any taste for competition you will love this sport,’ he said. ‘It’s great for your body and your mind. It’s like a fast game of chess. Once you start, you just can’t stop.’

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