World championship squash is in the Cayman Islands for the first time this week, again boosting the Islands’ status in the sport internationally.
The Cayman Islands National Squash Association is making history by hosting the World Championships at Camana Bay.
The 2012 Cayman Islands World Open is presented by BDO. It started on Monday and runs to the finals on 21 December. More than 50 athletes from 24 different nations are competing for the title of world champion.
Nicol David is seeded first as she looks to retain her World Open champion status.
The Malaysian world No. 1, who claimed her six World Open titles in Egypt, England, Ireland, China and twice in the Netherlands, also has three Cayman Open titles to her name.
The first four days of the event took place at the South Sound Squash Club, before the action moved to an all-glass court on Festival Green in Camana Bay.
David is attempting her seventh world title, but faces a tough first round opponent in former world No. 4 and 2010 World Open runner-up Omneya Abdel Kawy of Egypt.
One of the pair could face ninth seed Annie Au in round two, should the Hong Kong national defeat unseeded Jaclyn Hawkes.
Currently enjoying her highest ranking on the World Squash Association World Tour, Raneem El Weleily is seeded second for the event, having never made it past the second round in her previous 10 World Open campaigns.
Now enjoying the form of her life, the Egyptian will play Aisling Blake in the first round, before potentially meeting No. 13 seed Dipika Pallikal in round two.
Missing out on the No. 2 seeding by just one month, Laura Massaro is seeded as No. 3 and will face a qualifying opponent in the opening main round, and could face 2007 World Open champion Rachael Grinham in the second round.
Having finally fought back to the top end of the women’s game, Alison Waters has had a successful year regaining full-fitness after a lengthy Achilles injury. She returned to the No. 4 ranking in November and is seeded fourth for the event. She will face local wildcard entrant Marlene West, who reached her highest WSA ranking of 71 in 2010.
Waters could then meet last year’s semi-finalist Samantha Teran in the second round, should the Mexican overcome her qualifying opponent.
Another success story of 2012, Joelle King, raised her highest ranking recently to grant her fifth seed position for her third World Open.
She plays Joey Chan of Hong Kong in the first round, and could see either No.11 seed and four-time runner-up Natalie Grinham or Donna Urquhart in round two.
The New Zealander could also meet Raneem El Weleily in the quarter-finals, should both players progress.
Last year’s World Open runner-up Jenny Duncalf is sixth seed and is drawn to face a qualifier in the first round. The Englishwoman could then play Camille Serme of France in the second round, with the possibility of facing compatriot Alison Waters in the quarter-finals.
Seventh seed Low Wee Wern, placing her highest ranking on the WSA World Tour, will face unseeded Sarah Kippax in the first round, with the possibility of meeting 12th seed Kasey Brown in round two and Massaro in the quarters.
After becoming the youngest ever World Series finalist in May’s British Open, Nour El Sherbini rose to No. 5 in the world, but sits at No. 8.
Also seeded eighth in the draw the Egyptian, now 17 years old, will play a qualifying entrant in the opening round, before facing tenth seed Madeline Perry, should the Irishwoman defeat Nour El Tayeb.
Players from 24 nations are due to take part in the qualifying and main draw events, and upsets can happen at every stage along the way.
Last year third and fourth seeds Madeline Perry and Rachael Grinham fell in round two, whilst Perry, Natalie Grainger, Laura Massaro and Natalie Grinham all saw early exits in 2010.
This year just 34 rankings points separates the world No. 4 and 8, so competition between the top seeds has never been higher and there will surely be some surprises along the way.
Tickets to the Cayman World Open are available through www.caymanboxoffice.com