Down Under to rise to the top

Squash ace Cameron Stafford hopes to fulfil his dreams to get to become a top world class player within a few years thanks to the support of the government starting with an extended trip Down Under.  

As a beneficiary of the government’s Nation Building Fund, Stafford looks forward to advancing his skills by training and participating in 10 tournaments back to back in Australia. 

His goal is to win consistently and raise his world ranking so he can graduate to the big, prestigious tournaments. His ultimate goal is to be world No.1 and his application is undeniable. Starting at 408, Stafford’s world ranking has already spurted to 239 in a mere five months. 

Premier McKeeva Bush handed over the grant cheque to Stafford to enable him to play in different tournaments representing the Cayman Islands. “I am very proud of our rising star Cameron who joins a praiseworthy group of world-class young Caymanian sportspersons,” Bush said. “It is precisely for such instances that the Nation Building Fund was envisioned and established. One has only to see Cameron play or even speak about squash to recognise his potential and dedication to his game. 

“Squash is a demanding sport, requiring peak physical fitness. I wish Cameron the very best in his efforts to consolidate his ranking, technique and skills in the coming months.” 

Accepting the US$11,500 grant gratefully, the 2011 Caribbean Under-19 champion and Island Games silver and bronze medallist said he looks forward to making his country proud. His prior victories include two Caribbean junior champion trophies, then the regional U-17 gold as well as helping the Cayman boys’ team garner the team gold. 

He now hopes to improve his game, so he can qualify to play in a New York tournament which he considers one of the best in the world and anticipates his participation there will be all the more sweet since the Cayman Islands is one of the silver sponsors of the tournament. 

An athletic student from his earliest school days, Stafford tried cricket, football, baseball, sailing and tennis before finding his niche with squash. Since turning 13 he has dedicated himself to squash. 

Stafford, 20 next week, credits his success so far to his dad John Michael Stafford, originally from Guyana and a former Olympian in sailing, his Caymanian mom Janie and his ex-coach Dean Watson, who at one time was ranked 81st worldwide. 

The Cayman Islands Squash Club was a second home to this dedicated youngster. While he worked on his game, Stafford attended a number of international tournaments, again thanks to his parents and witnessed first-hand how the pro-tour works before deciding to join it. “I thought long and hard about going pro and am totally grateful that my parents backed me all the way,” he said. 

His local coach found him another coach in Amsterdam, a city he considers one of the best places to train in squash. Then it was off to Amsterdam for three months to better understand the intricacies of the pro tour. 

Grateful to all who supported him Stafford said his thanks go especially to the Cayman Islands National Squash Association, coach Glenn Stark for helping him prepare for the 10 tournaments ahead, his new manager Amanda Stark and Mark Hennings of Cayman Contractors “because without these people this trip wouldn’t be possible.” 

Stafford said he follows the games from the world’s top squash countries which continue to be Australia, Canada, Egypt, England, France, India, Kuwait, Pakistan and USA. 

Stafford can be followed on [email protected] and on Facebook 

glass court Cameron Stafford

Cameron Stafford is rapidly rising up the world rankings. – PHOTO: RON SHILLINGFORD