World’s best will squash up

The Cayman Squash Open next month will boast one of the highest quality group of top players ever to compete in the Caribbean.

It has the top four women in the world and the top three men in the Caribbean entered in the tournament.

The event runs from May 5-10, with the women’s event offering $37,500 in prize money, along with world ranking points as a sanctioned tour event.

The world No.1 from Malaysia, Nicol David has just announced her entry into the event. The three times World Open Champion will be making her first trip to the Caribbean.

‘I haven’t been before and I’m looking forward to my first experience there,’ David said. ‘I know Cayman is known for its gorgeous beaches and a true holiday resort. I saw some photos of what to expect and they look amazing.’

The World No.2, Natalie Grainger from the USA will be making her second trip to Cayman. Grainger played an exhibition match a year ago against Cayman’s best players and loved the island.

‘I enjoyed the friendly, warm hospitality and the wonderful boat trip. We swam with the sting rays! Amazing. Gorgeous, clear blue water and fishes.’

Grainger said she was looking forward to reconnecting with friends she made through the Cayman squash community and seeing more of the beautiful island.

The world No.4 and current Commonwealth Games gold medallist Natalie Grinham will also be making her first trip to the Caribbean. ‘I haven’t been before but I’ve always wanted to go,’ Grinham said. ‘I know Cayman consists of three islands and is supposed to have incredible beaches.’

Entries to the Cayman Open Women’s event closes tomorrow, and 10 of the top 20 in the world are entered in Cayman’s first pro tournament.

In the Men’s Invitational event Cayman’s four best players will take on the best in the Caribbean. Cayman will be represented by current Caribbean Junior Champion Cameron Stafford, five times national champion Dean Watson, South Sound Squash Club Champion Jake Kelly and Maples Commonwealth Games Squad member Ryan McConvey.

Their opponents will include the current Caribbean No.1, Shawn Smith from Barbados. The Caribbean No.2 and No.3 players are Colin Ramasra from Trinidad and Tobago who has joined the pro tour and has a current world ranking of 155, and Gavin Cumberbatch from Barbados who is the current Caribbean Men’s Champion. Jamaica’s Steve Smith rounds out the eight man draw and ensures an exciting Cayman versus Jamaica first round match up.

Tournament director Dan Kneipp said he was ecstatic to have such a world class field attending the event. ‘Cayman will be hosting the very best athletes from the Caribbean and in the world. This is so exciting for what it will do for our junior programme and our elite players. They’ll get a chance to get on court with their idols, on their home courts.’

The Cayman Open’s goals include eventually aiming to offer free squash to Cayman’s youth. The 2009 event will have daily free workshops for Cayman schools where juniors will get to play against the visiting pros, and will offer squash scholarships to 12 Caymanians, including free squash equipment, free membership and free lessons.

There will also be opportunities for juniors new to squash to come down and learn about the sport.

The world’s top women think that the Cayman Open’s junior plans will be extremely beneficial to junior squash. ‘This will most certainly help in a huge way,’ said Nicol David. ‘Not every country has complete support from their respective national sports councils and giving the youth the opportunity like this will definitely generate a following for squash in the Cayman Islands.’

Grainger agrees. ‘It’s wonderful news that Cayman squash is supporting the development of juniors. One of the best things I was told, and it happened to be a very special lady that told me, my mum, was: ‘Win with grace, lose with dignity, but above all, enjoy the game.’ Squash is huge fun and it teaches us plenty of life lessons, winning and losing is part of life, but enjoying the journey is the adventure.’

When Grainger was asked what was the best advice she could offer Cayman’s juniors who hope to beat her she said: ‘The best technical advice I can offer is to hold the grip correctly. Everything else stems from that. I will be happy to show all the Cayman juniors just how to hold the racket properly when I get there. And as to beating me, hmmm, make me run!’

Every day of the Cayman Open there will be scheduled matches that will be free for local juniors to watch, along with free viewing matches for the public.

The Cayman Open is sponsored by the Ministry of Sport, BDO, Maples, Massive, Sunshine Suites, Cayman Financial Review, Lime, Dunlop and the Department of Tourism. More details are available at www.caribbeansquash.com

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