Squash level leaps

It’s not often that the world’s two best squash players battle it out but that unique occasion was celebrated in Cayman on Sunday.

Nicol David, the world’s No.1 woman player faced her closest rival Natalie Grainger, the world’s No.2.

It was the culmination of a wonderful week of world class squash with some of the best players on the planet competing in the Cayman Open at the club in South Sound.

Malaysian David had only beaten once in the past year and that was to Grainger so there was bound to be an extra intensity for every point.

Grainger ended David’s 56-match unbeaten run in the final of the Kuala Lumpur Open in March.

In the event it was a little anti-climatic as David comfortably beat the American 3-0 but the quality of play was nevertheless exceptional.

Watched by Minister of Sport Alden McLaughlin, despite the sweltering heat, everybody kept their cool in the packed club house.

There was an added local attraction in the men’s final. Coach Dean Watson had beated his protégé Cameron Stafford, the Caribbean junior champion, in the semi-final to take on the Caribbean’s No.1 Shawn Simpson in the final.

Barbadian Simpson with age and experience in his favour was probably expecting an easy night’s work but Watson upset the form book with a convincing 3-1 victory.

It was a marvellous conclusion to a great series of matches in its inaugural edition and next year’s is already booked.

That will be in a magnificent glass case in Camana Bay from April 11-17.

Many who came this time will be back, plus plenty of others for what should be another resounding tournament.

The players and officials who came here for the first time absolutely loved Cayman and made the most of the tourist hot spots by going to Rum Point and Stingray City.

The international squash media frothed at the level of organisation and enthusiasm of the locals, plus Vanity Fair covered proceedings.

Biggest winners, of course, are the juniors, for whom tournament director Dan Kneipp principally organised this for.

Plenty of local kids gained from tuition from the pros and the grassroots level of the sport is guaranteed to swell in the next year.