Top squash players from around the region began arriving in Cayman over the weekend for the Caribbean Senior Squash Championships, which is currently taking place at the South Sound Squash Club.
The event, which features more than 100 competitors from eight different countries in the region takes place from 8 to 13 August.
Countries represented include the Bahamas, 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.
Minister of Sport Mark Scotland said he was looking forward to the event.
“We have some of the best players in the region here, including our own Caymanian players. I understand we have more than 100 players here this week,” he said.
“I’d like to encourage the Cayman team and wish them the best, but to all the athletes I would like to welcome them on behalf of the Ministry of Sports and the government and hope that they have a successful tournament.”
Individual and Team competitions
The event is 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.
Play starts at 9am daily and runs throughout the day and early evening with the last match at 7:45pm and viewing is free, so members of the public are encouraged to come out and support the visiting players.
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.
In the individual competition, Cayman will be represented by a number of very strong players.
Leading the way for the Cayman Islands will be up and coming young Caymanian Cameron Stafford, who finished sixth in last year’s event. However, even though he has been competing for Cayman at the senior level for a number of years, this is actually his first year out of the junior ranks. Stafford recently took part in his first professional circuit tournament in Salt Lake City and is in very good shape to emerge as a legitimate challenger for the title this year.
Another Cayman challenger in the men’s division will be Dean Watson, who brings a lot of experience and firepower to the Cayman team.
They will be joined by Gabe Rabess, Jake Kelly, Myron Blair, Warren Urguhart and Frank Brennan.
In the women’s competition, experienced campaigner Marlene West will be leading the charge for team Cayman, amply supported by Alison Strobridge, Samantha Hennings, Kristina Myren, Eilidh Bridgeman, Delia Canham and Marion Goodall.
With excellent depth in the team, hopes are high that Cayman can also perform very well in the team competition, set to kick off on 11 August after the official opening ceremony.
Representation in the senior men’s and women’s division will be very strong, while the masters’ team is also likely to feature strongly in the hunt for the top step of the podium, with the likes of defending champion Janet Sairsingh representing Cayman in the women 40-plus, Sheena Conolly in the women 50-plus, Frank Brennan in the men 40-plus, defending champion John McCrury in the men 50-plus, and Ian Patrick in the men 60-plus.
With strong representation in all categories from individual through team, Cayman could well be in with a shot at the overall title, which takes into account results from all the different competitions contested during the tournament.
The tournament will have many of the top names in regional squash taking part over the course of the week. The top seeded players for the individual competition amply demonstrates the spread of squash talent throughout the region.
The top ten seeds for the men’s individual competition is lead by defending champion Richard Chin of Guyana, followed by Chris Binnie of Jamaica, Cameron Stafford of Cayman, Bryant Cumberbatch of Barbados, Bruce Burrows of Jamaica, Dean Watson of Cayman, Joe Chapman of the OECS, Gavin Cumberbatch of Barbados, Alexander Arjoon of Guyana and Micah Franklin of Bermuda.
The top ten seeds in the women’s individual competition is lead by world top 50 ranked professional Nicolette Fernandes of Guyana, followed by Karen Meakins of Barbados, Cheri-Ann Paris of Barbados, Marlene West of Cayman, Rhea Khan of Trinidad and Tobago, Jennifer Armstrong of Barbados, Lilianna White of Barbados, Alison Strobridge of Cayman, Samantha Hennings of Cayman, and Brooke Burrowes of Jamaica.
The main sponsors for the event are the Ministry of Health, Environment, Youth, Sports & Culture and the Department of Tourism.
Gold sponsors are
Cayman National, Cayman Mac Store, Guy Harvey, Cayman Contractor Store, The Cayman Islands Journal, Appleton, Island Heritage, CUC, Red Sail, Dolphin Discovery and South Sound Squash Club.