Cayman is hosting the Women’s World Squash Championships for the first time this month and the preliminary matches have already begun.
The event will be attended by players from over 24 countries including the current world champion Nicol David who has won it for the past six years.
There is also the Commonwealth Games gold, silver and bronze medallists, World Junior Champion, World Team Champions (Egypt) and all top 10 ranked players ranked in the world
The building of the glass court is almost completed at Camana Bay. The new location at Festival Green is currently being prepared.
The first four days of the event are at the South Sound Squash Club before the action moves to the glass court. It starts on Friday 14 December and the finals are on 21 December.
Event director Dan Kneipp said: “Thanks to our generous sponsors we have a tournament raffle with over $50,000 in prizes including a 2013 Ford Edge from Vampt Motors.
“Proceeds go to funding the Cayman World Open and the Cayman Islands junior squash programme. Tickets are $25 and $50 for three.”
The 2013 Ford Edge is worth $39,000 and other prizes include a Hearts On Fire 18K white gold 5 stone wedding band from Island Companies, worth $5,590, a Hamilton Jazzmaster watch with rose gold finish from Island Companies worth $705 and a Movado Bold watch in black from Island Companies worth $650.
There are also top of the range sunglasses, trips to New York on Cayman Airways and an iPad. Tickets can be purchased at the squash club, or through the juniors.
The 2012 Cayman World Open is run to help finance the junior squash programme. This year the tournament has put $47,000 into the funding of the national squash coach, and the tournament is donating $42,000 in Dunlop equipment for the junior programme to ensure the programme continues to have free equipment.
So far this year over 2,000 juniors went through the different programmes, sponsored by Maples, Butterfield and Digicel. Marlene West will be competing for Cayman.
This is a non-profit event and 100 per cent of the proceeds go directly to the junior squash programme. The 2012 Cayman World Open is run by the Cayman Islands National Squash Association.
This paper’s webiste www.CayCompass will be focusing on squash player profiles, including the world’s best players attending the Cayman World Open, and juniors that are part of the Cayman Islands National Squash Association programme. Egypt’s Raneem El Weleily is current the world No.2. “I haven’t been to Cayman before, I’m really looking forward to it, everyone tells me how nice it is,” she said. “I’ve heard of its beaches, sun and humidity.”
She is determined to do well at the World Open and upset David’s run. She said: “The obvious aim is to win the World Open, but I’ll start with trying to get past the second round for the first time and see what happens if I can do that.”
Eilidh Bridgeman, 18, is National Ladies Champion. She has been playing squash for about four years.
“I played tennis regularly and then played squash one rainy day instead with my friend and enjoyed it so much. And then we started playing it for PE in school and I just fell in love with the sport,” Bridgeman said.
“Winning the Ladies Nationals earlier this year has been my best achievement. I love competing in international competitions, mainly in other Caribbean countries but in Canada and the US as well. We got so much experience when playing in them and always came back motivated to train for the next one.”
Bridgeman’s ambitions for next year include representing Cayman in the Island Games in Bermuda.
“I think I’ve been so passionate about squash for so long now I can’t imagine ever giving it up,” she said.
The prospect of the Women’s World Squash Open being in the Cayman Islands is hugely exciting for Bridgeman.
“I think its fantastic as it will really expose Cayman to the highest level of women’s squash. It’s great to see squash being represented at such a high standard in the Caribbean. I’m very excited as it will be very inspiring and great to watch!
“My favourite player would have to be Amanda Sobhy because she’s so young and talented – and so lovely.
“My favourite highlight in the Cayman Open was when the men from the rugby club performed the hakka before Nicol David and Jaclyn Hawks’ match.”
She is looking forward to all the action at the World Open and knows who is most likely to win. “I have to go with Nicol David because she is so flawless.”
The Cayman Open has really inspired Bridgeman. “Getting to watch the standard of play these women perform at is incredible, it inspires me to train harder to try and improve.
“To all the girls, especially, I’m begging you to take up squash. We need more girls. It’s a great sport so you won’t be disappointed.”