Pan Am squash tourney kicks off in South Sound

Cayman’s Jacob Kelly, right, squares off against Brazil’s Diego Gobbi on Sunday during the first day of the Pan American Squash Championships. Gobbi won that match 11-1, 8-11, 11-3, 11-4. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

The Pan American Squash Championships kicked off on Sunday at the South Sound Squash Club.

The event has drawn hundreds of people to Cayman, with more than 128 competitors from 18 teams representing countries such as the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina.

Some of the top players in the world are participating, including 11th-ranked Diego Elias from Peru and Chris Binnie, an eight-time Caribbean champion representing Jamaica.

The stakes are high in the weeklong event. The top eight women’s teams and the top 12 men’s teams will advance to next year’s Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

Seven gold medals will be on the line: There will be a men’s and women’s singles bracket as well as men’s, women’s and mixed doubles. Team titles will be contested for both men and women.

The finals for the individual men’s and women’s brackets will take place on Wednesday, as will the semifinals and the finals of the doubles competition. The team competition will start Thursday, and it will not be completed until the end of the tournament on Sunday.

For Cayman, the tournament offers local players a chance to compete against the world’s best, said Cayman coach Mark Chaloner.

Jacob Kelly of Cayman, foreground, takes on Brazil’s Diego Gobbi on Sunday during the first day of the Pan American Squash Championships. – Photo: Taneos Ramsay

“They’ll put up a good fight, a good showing,” said Mr. Chaloner. “It’s tough at this kind of level of competition. This is the cream of the crop of the Pan American region, so they’re up against the best players of this region.”

Cayman’s men’s team consists of Cameron Stafford, Jake Kelly, Julian Jervis and David Pitcairn; and the women’s team includes Marlene West, Eilidh Bridgeman, Jade Pitcairn and Samantha Hennings.

On Sunday, David Pitcairn fell to the U.S.’s Timothy Brownell, Stafford beat the British Virgin Islands’ Neville Sorrentino, and Kelly lost to Brazil’s Diego Gobbi. Other games involving Cayman players did not finish before this issue’s press deadline.

This is the first time Cayman has hosted the Pan American Squash Championships. Mr. Chaloner said it’s a great opportunity for the territory to showcase itself.

“It actually showcases South Sound Squash Club as one of the premier clubs in the region, especially a destination club where people can come and train,” he said. “Everyone loves it here.”