Cayman will play host to some of the best squash players in the region when it hosts the Caribbean Senior Squash Championships from 8 to 13 August.
The event will see some 130 players from eight countries descend on the South Sound Squash Club for an event that includes individual championships for men and women, as well as team championships for men, women and veterans.
The countries represented at the event will be the B
ahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Guyana, Jamaica, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (composed of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands), Trinidad and Tobago and of course the host nation Cayman.
One event, many champions
The event will be contested in two phases, starting with the individual men’s and women’s championships from 8 to 10 August.
This will be followed by the men’s, women’s and veterans’ team championships from 11 to 13 August.
With the large numbers of competitor the championships will feature a packed programme, with play taking place from 9am to 8pm on all the days of the tournament in order to get through all the rounds. All play will take place at the South Sound Squash Club, with most of the courts being used, although one court will be left for catch-up matches if needed.
According to Glen Stark, the Cayman national squash coach, players will face a tough schedule of play, most likely playing two matches per day in order to squeeze the entire tournament into one week.
Best of all, squash fans will be able to view the games for free and support local and regional players as they strive to prove themselves the best in the region.
The opening ceremony for the event will take place on 10 August in order to include as many of the participants as possible, with some of the individual competitors leaving after the conclusion of their tournament, while some of the team competitors may not arrive far in advance of the team section of the championships.
The closing ceremony will take place on 13 August after the conclusion on the team section of the competition.
Last year’s team results
At last year’s competition, the women’s team competition was won by Barbados, with Trinidad and Tobago in second place and OECS in third place. Cayman finished fourth on that occasion.
In the men’s competition, Bermuda took the win, followed by OECS and Jamaica, with Cayman in seventh.
Trinidad and Tobago took the veterans’ team competition, with Barbados in second and OECS in third, with Cayman just missing out on the podium in fourth.
The overall competition was very close, with Barbados taking it on 23 points, followed by Trinidad and Tobago a mere point behind on 22 and OECS a further two points back on 20. Cayman claimed a fourth place finish.
Cayman will be fielding a very strong team, with the men’s team in particular expected to improve greatly on their seventh place finish in the 2010 edition of the event. According to Stark the men’s team could well be looking at a podium finish this year. One of the top players for Cayman will be Cameron Stafford. He was Cayman’s top finisher in last year’s event, taking sixth place, but has since improved greatly as he works to take his game to the next level. He will certainly be one to watch this year, but according to Stark Cayman will have a couple of other surprises in store for the opposition in the men’s team lineup.
In conjunction with strong women’s and veterans’ teams, the Cayman Islands will also be looking to improve on their fourth place in the overall competition at last year’s event. The overall competition takes into consideration a country’s position across all five competitions in order to award the top country in the Caribbean.
Visiting players to watch
Among the visiting players, there will be quite a couple who will be well worth keeping an eye on. Prime among these is Nicolette Fernandes of Guyana. She is a professional player and is currently ranked in the top 50 in the world. However, she has been ranked as high as 27th, so will be very tough to beat in the women’s individual competition.
Among the visiting men, Guyana will again be represented by a very strong team, led by Richard Chin, the defending men’s champion. However, Chin will not have it all his own way, as last year’s runner up Chris Binnie will be back to lead the challenge for Jamaica. A familiar face to squash fans in Cayman, Shawn Simpson will also be back leading the charge for Barbados, while college squash player Joe Chapman of the British Virgin Islands will spearhead the attack for the OECS.
According to Stark, the tournament will see a wide range of players take part, from very experienced campaigners to top regional juniors stepping up to represent their country at senior level for the first time. The tournament therefore plays a very important development role in the region as well, all while fostering closer ties between regional squash players.
Location: South Sound Squash Club Date and Time: 8-13 August, 9am – 8pm Tickets: Free viewing