Squash aims to reach the heights

South Sound Squash Club will host five visiting US College teams over the next six weeks, including teams from Ivy League Colleges.


Kneipp is bringing over US college teams
Photo: Ron Shillingford

Teams from five different universities will use Cayman as a base for team training and a chance to get away from the New England winter.

The world class facilities at South Sound Squash Club ensure that the college teams are able to enjoy the best the Caribbean has to offer, while still having access to the top quality training facilities that they require.

Squash players from the United States are an ideal demographic to attract to the Cayman Islands.

Squash in the United States is mainly played on the north-east coast, particularly in prestigious universities like the Ivy League Colleges.

Ivy League Colleges are eight of the oldest and most respected universities in America. They consist of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Pennsylvania and Yale.

Because of the connection with top universities, the US squash market is an affluent player demographic, second only to polo for average income per participant.

The first team to visit will be Dartmouth University which will bring their women’s team of 12 players next week. Brown University are next.

In January other visiting colleges will be Tufts University and Hamilton University. These are two of the 11 colleges that make up New England Small College Athletic Conference and are often referred to as the ‘Little Ivies’. The final university to send a visiting squash team will be George Washington.

Squash coach Dan Kneipp said is very excited to have these visiting teams. ‘Dean (the club manager) is in the process of organising events with the teams,’ he said.

‘With Dartmouth’s team they’ll be here for a week and training most days. On their last night here, the 17th, they’ll play against our best players.’

The Dartmouth team is coached by Hansi Wiens who is the former world No.11 and a good friend of Kneipp’s.

‘He has told me that we have to have a match while he’s here. I think the last time I was on court with Hansi was in Paderborn in Germany at the 2003 Bundesliga Finals.

‘He thrashed me then and I suspect he’ll thrash me again. He has won the German National Championships 10 times!

‘But I’m hoping he’ll eat and drink too much while he’s enjoying Cayman’s great beaches and hospitality and I’ll do better this time.’

Kneipp is pleased that the club is doing a lot to attract more college squash players in the future. ‘It’s great that we have these top colleges visiting us, and it’s something we can expect a lot more of with the 2009 Cayman Open.’

Top local youngsters like Jake Kelly, Sam Hennings and the Stafford siblings, Cameron and Courtney, are bound to benefit from exposure to better players here.

South Sound Squash Club is in the process of organising a professional squash tournament for 2009 that will tap into the lucrative US squash market, attracting great exposure for the Cayman Islands and sponsors of the event. It hopes to put on a glass open eventually and stage big tournaments.