Local squash players will now have a better chance of international success thanks to the generosity of Maples and Calder who are heavily sponsoring the club in South Sound.
Dan Kneipp, club coach, knows what it takes to be a champion. He should know, he has coached on the professional squash tour and for three years guided his brother Joe with great success.
‘Joe was a great player,’ said Kneipp. ‘He was ranked in the top 40 in the world and when I started working with him he had been a professional for seven years but had never qualified for the Australian team.
‘Within six months he was selected to the Australian team and went on to win a gold and bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.’
Joe won a gold medal in the mixed doubles at the 2006Commonwealth Games, partnering Natalie Grinham. He also won the mixed doubles title at the 2006 World Doubles Squash Championships, partnering Rachael Grinham.
Dan added: ‘So I know exactly what it takes to fine tune a good athlete and turn them into a great athlete.
‘It’s a ridiculous amount of work. Realistically we have a five per cent chance of getting a medal at the next Commonwealth Games in 2010.
‘But before Maples sponsored the team that was a zero chance.
‘It’s all about creating the best possible opportunities and the best possible athletes. Sporting heroes are made from athletes that are given the right opportunities and against all odds become champions.
‘If we don’t achieve a great result at the 2010 games we’ll be laying the foundations for the 2014 team and the 2018 team.
‘We’ve a lot of Maples and Calder staff heavily involved in the squash club so it’s great to see that they’re putting something back into the sport and doing so much to support the top Caymanian players.
‘The club’s got an extremely good junior programme. Last year we had two Caribbean junior champions and this year one. But we haven’t had a national team programme set up and specifically we want to be able to focus on the next Commonwealth Games.
‘What Maples has done is come through and sponsored our national team to focus on the Commonwealth Games and part of that sponsorship includes coaching, court use, uniforms and a ball machine.
‘The ball machine value is about $5,000. We had to ship it in from Canada. What it does is allow our top players to really hone their racket skills.
‘At the last Commonwealth Games there wasn’t a single medal that was won by an amateur. They were all professional athletes.
‘So for a tiny nation like the Cayman Islands it’s very difficult for us to compete against countries like England, Australia, Pakistan and Malaysia. What Maples has done with their sponsorship has given us a chance.
‘It doesn’t mean we’re going to do great in 2010 but the opportunity’s there. That’s what it’s all about.’
Two of Cayman’s top women players, Marlene West and Chantelle Day, were the first ones to practice with the new machine.
Julian Reddyhough is one of the joint managing partners at Maples and Calder.
‘We’re delighted to be able to provide this piece of equipment for the squash club,’ he said.
‘It’s useful because it can be used for training and practice for squash players of all ability from the national squad at one end of the spectrum down to beginners at the other end. We’re delighted to be in the position to provide it.