Squash Open going to be region’s envy

The Cayman Open international squash is approaching and tickets have gone on sale for the sport’s biggest event in the Caribbean. Other countries in the region envy Cayman for putting this tournament on which annually attracts the world’s best.

Tickets to the 2011 Cedrus Cayman Open are available at The Mansion at Camana Bay. It will be played on an all glass court at Camana Bay from 3-9 April. This is the third hosting of the Cayman Open and easily the biggest and best.

The women’s tournament is already acknowledged as one of the top five biggest events on the professional squash tour. Tournament director Dan Dneipp said: “For 2010 we had eight of the top 10 women in the world participating, including world No.1 and world champion Nicol David from Malaysia. The 2011 Cedrus Cayman Open has a 33 per cent increase in the prize money for the women, ensuring the tournament is stronger. At this stage we have 16 of the world’s top 20 women entered in the tournament.”

The men’s tournament is an invitational event for the best players in the Caribbean to battle against the best in the world. Sixteen will compete for the title. Cayman’s top five men will join nine from the Caribbean – Bahamas, Bermuda, Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, St Lucia and Trinidad.

Kneipp said: “Rounding out the event will be the world no.12, Alistair Walker. Born in Botswana he now plays for England and is part of their team that won the European Championships. And finally world No.1 and 2008 world champion Ramy Ashour from Egypt.”

Eight of Cayman’s best men and women will be flying the Cayman flag. Cayman’s top female juniors Kristina Myren and Eilidh Bridgeman are in the qualifying tournament. The duo won silver and bronze respectively at the 2010 Caribbean Junior Squash Championships.

Cayman’s top woman Marlene West will be given a wildcard into the main draw. Her first match will be on the glass court at Camana Bay against a player ranked in the world’s top eight, so there’s no pressure there.

Leading the charge for Cayman’s men will be current Caribbean Under-19 Champion Cameron Stafford. His team-mates from the recent Commonwealth Games, Myron Blair and Alex Frazer are in it as well as Gabe Rabess and David Finch.

The all-glass court will be erected on The Crescent at Camana Bay. The set up will be different to last year. The glass court and seating will be spun 180 degrees so that the front wall of the glass court is facing down The Paseo towards Abacus Restaurant and the cinema. This allows for a much bigger and more accessible public viewing area.

The tournament is run by the Cayman Islands National Squash Association. a non-profit sporting body responsible for junior squash and representative squash here. All profits will go into the junior programme.

An enormous number of sponsors have made this event a reality. Besides Cedrus Investments, the main sponsors are Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Guy Harvey, BDO, Cayman Airways, Maples, The Security Centre, Sunshine Suites, Butterfield and Cayman Free Press’s own publication Cayman Financial Review. The tournament will have extensive local and international TV coverage. Local media partners include WeststarTV, CayCompass and Rooster101.

Kneipp is proud that the junior programme is so heavily supported. “Over $32,000 worth of squash equipment will be donated to the programme and considerable funding and all profits will go to the squash association to allow free and subsidised squash for Cayman’s juniors.

“Over 300 juniors from 12 different schools will get free workshops with the visiting pros. Cayman’s elite and national junior squash teams will get to train on the glass court at Camana Bay, with profits from our tournament raffle helping fund the national junior team attending the 2011 Caribbean Junior Championships in Guyana.”