Dean Watson’s task at the South Sound Squash Club is to bring on the juniors. There is no question he’s doing a fine job.
The junior programme is working incredibly well. But none of them have been able to beat coach Watson, 39, in the national championships yet.
He took his fifth title two weeks ago in beating protégé Cameron Stafford, 16.
Were the best juniors off island then? ‘Hey, no the best ones were not off island, all the good ones were here,’ said a slightly indignant Watson.
‘It’s great for Cayman squash that so many are coming through and getting stronger by the day.
‘Jake Kelly was obviously absent because he was doing his coaching qualification in the UK. I know he would have given me a good run as well.
‘But I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve still and so I’m going to keep using them. If they want to beat me then they’re going to have to bloody earn it.
‘They’re progressing well and I’m happy for them. It helps with all the exposure they’re getting and with the Cayman Open coming as well.
‘All that helps and with our profile being heightened all the time and with top players coming to the island, it helps their game.’
As well as Kelly, Watson is happy to see the development of the Stafford siblings Cameron and Courtney.
‘Jake is coming on well too but Cameron’s focus is a little more straight line. Jake’s a little all over the place at the moment, but he is also a bit older than Cameron.
‘The amount of hours they put in is great. They’re also putting in more structure into their training rather than just coming in and simply playing. Hopefully, with that, it will enhance their game even more.’
The national championships, sponsored by Massive, were as keenly contested as ever.
‘This was sixth year that Massive sponsored us and without them we couldn’t have done it. The national championships are arguably the most important tournament on island and obviously having around 32 juniors taking part in the senior tournament was very good.
‘The tournament ran very well. We had over 100 players and the level was good throughout. There were a couple of anomalies and surprises which was good.
‘The doubles event was great and a laugh. We’re trying to develop it so that there will be a lot more entries in that category.’
Watson is pleased that the publicity that the Cayman Open specifically and squash generally has received has given it a boost.
‘It’s been amazing and been so good for the game. People are now coming into the club and people in the street who you haven’t seen for a while say they’ve been reading about you in the news. It’s the first thing they start talking about. This all helps to bring more people into the game.
‘There’s the key element of getting the kids in the schools to come into the programme and get them on court playing with a professional. It’s wonderful and that sort of thing will maybe inspire them to want to play squash seriously.’
Marlene West heads the squad likely to play in the Commonwealth Games next year, only she has an injury problem. It is scheduled for India but because of political problems is likely to be moved to Melbourne where it was held in 2006 at the last Commonwealth Games.
‘Marlene is due to have a knee operation but that should only put her out for two or three months. She’s strong athletically anyway, so it’s really only a case of getting her confidence back once she returns.
‘Jake Kelly is a plum contender to go to the Commonwealth Games. Alex Fraser may have been but with his knee problems too he may not go. Obviously, Courtney is a contender too.’