Open gets approval from region’s best players

Two of the Caribbean’s top squash
players were thrilled to come back to the Cayman Open.

Nicolette Fernandes of Guyana and
Barbadian Gavin Cumberbatch came to the inaugural Cayman Open last year which
was arranged on short notice. That was held solely at the South Sound Squash
Club and went well.

They were impressed enough to
return this time and love the fact that it has expanded to an open air glass
court in Camana Bay. 

Last year the players not only
thoroughly enjoyed the action, they loved going around the island too, to
places like the Turtle Farm, Rum Point and especially Stingray City.

It is not just a showpiece event
either; the Cayman Open, chiefly organised by coach Dan Kneipp, is for ranking
points on the Women’s International Squash Professionals Association
circuit. 

Fernandes said: “I’ve been here
many times, this is not just my second time. It’s obviously my second WISPA
tournament here and it’s so much better than before.

“Last year was great. Dan and the
whole organisation made us feel so special. But this year is just bigger but
you still feel really special, you feel well taken care of. This is such a nice
place to be.

“The supporters here are nice. I’m
a Caribbean girl so it’s nice to have support. I travel the world. Last week I
was in France and there’s no Guyanese, nor Caribbean support there. So this is
a nice change for me. I love it.

“As long as I’m a Caribbean girl
I’m going to be here for the rest of my life.”

At last year’s Cayman Open
Fernandes had just returned from long-term injury. She had dropped to well
below the 100 mark in the world rankings but since then has climbed to No. 61
and believes she can get higher than her highest ever No.27 if she stays
healthy.

“I think, as long as I get a few
good results I’ll be back where I was before. I felt I should have got a good
result here but faltered a little and fell at the last hurdle. But, yeah, it’s
been good. I’ve been playing well.

“I’m going to make a big push for
the rest of the year and as long as I stay healthy I’m really looking forward
to the next few years.

“I’m really enjoying it so much
more. I suppose it comes with age. I love squash, touring the world, playing it
and especially love coming here.”

Cumberbatch is the former Caribbean
champion. Last year’s Cayman Open was his introduction to Grand Cayman and although
he lost in his first round match to Cayman’s Dean Watson on Sunday, is still
having a good time.

“I think it always gets better,”
Cumberbatch said. “You recognise more people and know the area a bit better. I
think to have one year to plan for this has made it phenomenal. Kudos to Dan
and his team.

“The accommodation is great. Thanks
to Sunshine Suites. But I also would like to say that the inclusion of Camana
Bay is exceptional. This is one of the finest locations for the WISPA tour.

“It is definitely one of the best
in the Caribbean and I think it is a sign of things to come for the region to
help promote squash. I applaud the Cayman team for taking squash to the next
level.

“God willing, I’ll be
here next year and every year following.”  

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