Camana Bay will be totally squashed out

Cayman’s squash profile has risen spectacularly on the
international circuit recently and with its next major event
approaching, at Camana Bay in a couple of months, that burgeoning
reputation will go up a couple more notches, writes Journal journalist
Ron Shillingford
.
 
In case Cayman’s squash scene did not make a big enough impact in 2009, just watch how its meteoric rise continues this year.
Preparations
are going well for the Cayman Open from 11-17 April where prize money
will total at least US$38,100. Organised by Dan Kneipp, coach and club
manager at the Squash Club in South Sound, it promises to be another
terrific event and solidify Cayman’s kudos as the Caribbean’s top
squash country.
 
Last year the inaugural Cayman Open attracted
some of the world’s top women players, including the No.1 Nicol David
who defeated the world’s No.2 Natalie Grainger in the final. David even
extended her stay to enjoy the sights, including Stingray City.
 
Cayman’s
Marlene West will be the top local talent in the Cayman Open, which was
so successful that a few months later when Trinidad pulled out of
staging the Caribbean Championships because of swine flu, Cayman
stepped in on short notice and hosted that too to high acclaim. 
 
Kneipp
said: “We’re on track with the Cayman Open to host one of squash’s
premium sporting events. We’ve also secured the rights to the 2012
World Open. One of the conditions of this is hosting a successful 2010
tournament so it’s even more important that this year’s event is a
roaring success.”
 
Twenty-eight top female professional players
will compete in the Cayman Open in a specially built glass arena. Last
year they had 17 players from different nations and seven of the Top 10
females in the world.
 
“We’re expecting the same calibre of
field this year, but we still haven’t finalised all of our sponsors,
and the value of the event’s prize money determines how strong the
field is,” said Kneipp.
 
“The men’s event will be eight of the top Caribbean men vying for the title of Cayman Open Champion.
 
“The
glass court is being shipped down from Canada and will sit on The
Crescent, with seating going back towards the North Sound. There will
be seating for around 300, but there will also be free viewing areas
around the court, meaning anyone can come down to Camana Bay and watch
for free.”
 
Sponsorship has been strong considering the economic
climate. The main sponsors are Camana Bay, BDO, Cedrus Investment,
Sunshine Suites, Cayman Financial Review and Massive.
 
“We’re
still finalising all of our major sponsors as we’re looking for two
more,” said Kneipp who is pleased with the response so far.
 
“The
international feedback on the calibre of events that Cayman is
organising couldn’t be more positive. The women’s pro squash tour
described our 2009 event as the best debut tournament ever.
 
“The
Caribbean Championships was unanimously declared the best event ever.
The greatest praise that we’ve had is securing the 2012 World Open,
after just one major event on the pro tour. This couldn’t be a better
compliment for how good a job they think we’re doing.
 
“The
value to Cayman’s economy will be over $7 million worth of sports
tourism, marketing, exposure and TV coverage. The Cayman Open will
generate $2.5m.”
 
The international media clamoured to cover
last year’s events, which has built up a nice momentum for this one.
Even Vanity Fair turned up for the Cayman Open out of curiosity.
 
Kneipp
added: “The media outlets will be determined by our total sponsorship,
as we’re aiming to get a TV production crew down from Canada. If we can
get this it will ensure the event is telecast on SKY TV and the Tennis
Channel. We already have extensive Cayman coverage through the Cayman
Financial Review and Cayman27.”

camanaSM

Marlene West, right, will fly the flag for Cayman. Here she is playing against the world No.5 Jenny Duncalf.

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