The Cedrus Investments Cayman Islands Open Squash Tournament will kick off on Sunday and the excitement around the tournament is already palpable as fans await the arrival on island of the top players in the world.
From South Sound to Camana Bay, the event will see the very best in women’s squash take to the courts, as well as some of the top regional men, joined by a select couple of players from the world tour, with the latter part of the tournament taking place on an all-glass court specially erected for the event on The Crescent at Camana Bay.
The event, which is now in its third year, has grown into an international showcase for the Cayman Islands as a sports tourism destination, thanks in part to the support of the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism.
The initial rounds of the tournament will take place at the South Sound Squash Club, one of the premier squash facilities in the Caribbean.
The tournament starts Sunday with the qualifiers for the women’s tournament.
There are four slots available in the main draw for qualifiers, so the battle for available places will be intense.
Among those competing will be two local junior players, Eilidh Bridgeman and Kristina Myren.
However, they will be up against some very strong opponents, including Joelle King of New Zealand, Donna Urquhart of Australia, Samantha Teran of Mexico, Amanda Sobhy of the USA, Sarah Kippax of England, Delia Arnold of Malaysia, Isabelle Stoehr of France and Emma Beddoes of England to name but a few.
At the South Sound Squash Club a projector will be set up on the court adjacent to the match court in order to allow more spectators to enjoy the action.
The projector, coupled with daytime games, will also make the tournament more accessible to students, which is one of the big aims of the event.
The main draw will kick off Tuesday when eighth-seed Camille Serme of France faces Low Wee Wern of Malaysia in the first main draw match at 12.30pm.
This will be followed by fifth-seed Madeline Perry of Ireland playing one of the qualifiers who made it through the tough qualifying rounds.
The evening’s play will feature second-seed Jenny Duncalf of England up against Annie Au of Hong Kong at 7.30pm, followed by the fourth seed, Alison Waters, also of England, up against another qualifier.
On Wednesday, the action continues at the South Sound Club in the morning when seventh-seed Laura Massaro of England takes on the second last of the qualifiers at 11am before sixth-seed Kasey Brown of Australia closes out the women’s action at the club against the last of the qualifiers before play moves to the glass court at Camana Bay.
In the opening game at Camana Bay, Cayman’s own Marlene West, who received a wildcard entry into the main draw, will take on third-seed Rachael Grinham of Australia at 7pm, followed by world number one and defending champion Nicol David up against Jaclyn Hawkes of New Zealand.
All subsequent matches will also take place at Camana Bay, building up to the finals on Saturday, 9 April.
Men’s Caribbean Challenge
Although the women’s tournament is the main featured event, the men’s Caribbean Challenge will also be lent some added lustre this year through the participation of two top players on the world tour.
The number-one seed for the tournament is Ramy Ashour of Egypt, a former world number one who is seen as one of the most exciting players currently active in the game. The second seed is Alister Walker of England, a top 20 player in the world.
They will be joined by a select group of local and regional players, with Myron Blair, Gabe Rabess, David Finch and Alex Frazer flying the flag for Cayman.
However, much of the local hope and attention will be focused on local lad Cameron Stafford, one of the top under-19 players in the region and quite possibly Cayman’s best hope for progressing to the latter stages of the tournament.
Junior squash programme benefits
All profits from the 2011 Cedrus Investments Cayman Islands Squash Open at Camana Bay go to the junior squash programme for the Cayman Islands National Squash Association.
More than $32,000 worth of squash equipment will be donated to the programme and considerable funding (and all profits) will go to the association to allow free and subsidised squash for Cayman’s juniors.
During the tournament, more than 300 juniors from 12 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 the tournament raffle helping fund the National Junior Team attending the 2011 Caribbean Junior Championships in Guyana.