The Cayman Islands Squash Open has been officially launched and the best players in the world will be coming to Cayman in a couple of months.
Minister of Sport Alden McLaughlin launched the 2009 pro squash tournament with the announcement that the world No.2 and world No.4 are already confirmed to attend the event, with the world No.1 expected to announce her attendance soon.
The best women in the world will compete for over $30,000 in prize money from May 5-14. Alongside the pro women’s event there will also be a tournament for the best male players in the Caribbean, with players from Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago expected to take on Cayman’s best.
Australian-born Natalie Grinham, the current world No.2 has already committed to attending this year’s Cayman Open.
Grinham won a record three gold medals at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, in the singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
Current world champion and world No.1 Nicol David from Malaysia is expected to confirm her entry soon.
The event is being sponsored by the Ministry of Sport, BDO, Maples and Calder, Sunshine Suites, Cayman Free Press, Massive and the Department of Tourism.
The centre piece of the Cayman Open is what it aims to do for Cayman youth. Each day two schools will have a workshop with the visiting pros.
The six day event will also offer 12 squash scholarships for Caymanian juniors, including squash equipment, membership and lessons.
The aim is to create an annual tournament that eventually offers free squash to any Cayman junior.
The Cayman Open will have event highlights on Sky TV as well as reaching over 900,000 daily viewers on the two main international squash websites.
The Caymanian Compass is providing live scoring and webcasting of the event with an expected 50,000-70,000 daily viewers.
As an added bonus the pro women’s squash tour put out an annual calendar this is very popular and they’re planning to use Cayman to do their 2010 calendar.
The 2009 Cayman Open will at South Sound Squash Club, but the plan is for next year’s event to be played on an all-glass court in an outdoor setting.
‘We can put a glass court and seating for hundreds at a great location like at one of the beaches or at an iconic Cayman location,’ said Cayman Island National Squash Association President Jeff Broderick. ‘This will ensure outstanding exposure for the Cayman Islands.’
The Cayman Open is only possible because of the sponsorship by companies that see the benefits the event has for Cayman sport and Cayman youth.
Maples and Calder currently sponsor the Commonwealth Games team and are enthused about the benefits of the Cayman Open to Cayman juniors.
‘Maples and Calder is very proud to support the Cayman Open tournament and the future development of squash on the Island,’ said Paul Lumsden, a partner.
‘Exposing children on the Island to a wide range of sports is great for their physical and mental development. The aspirations of the Cayman Open to introduce scholarships for juniors, free squash for all Cayman youth in the years to come, and eventually to secure US College scholarships for our top players, present potentially great opportunities for our young people.’
BDO already supports junior squash, last year helping to fund a Cayman junior team to play in the US Junior Open and Canadian Junior Open.
‘The Cayman Open is a fantastic opportunity to have a world class sports event in Cayman,’ said BDO managing partner Glen Trenouth, a high level squash player himself.
‘The athletes are some of the fittest people in the sporting world. We all hope it will be an inspiration to the youth and hopefully an annual event that will draw visitors from around the world, not only by plane but also by being televised to millions.’
The national squash championships are sponsored by Massive and are currently being played.
‘Massive have been involved in squash for years and we’ve been able to see Cayman’s best juniors progress into some of the best players in the Caribbean,’ said Massive’s Christina Kirkaldy.
‘This new event is going to do so much for Cayman squash, junior sport and squash in the Caribbean that Massive had to be a part of it, and we’re very excited to see the world’s best players compete against Cayman’s best players.’
Greg Wray, General Manager of Sunshine Suites Resort, said: ‘Sunshine Suites is very proud to be one of the sponsors of this year’s international squash tournament.
‘This is an exciting venture for the island but more importantly the tournament has been organised to benefit the youth of Cayman.
‘With childhood obesity on the rise in Cayman it’s more important than ever to help children see the benefits of exercise and the fun of participating in competitive sports.’
Tickets for the 2009 Cayman Open will go on sale later this week. There will be free viewing sessions every day for members of the public to view the world’s best players competing at South Sound Squash Club.