Women’s squash was enjoyed in a glass court in Camana Bay again last week and all involved deserve props for pulling it off in style.
Tournament director was Dan Kneipp, who sadly returns to Australia with his family next week to continue his burgeoning career there in coaching and event management.
It was Kneipp who had the vision to bring the World Open, sponsored by BDO, here five years ago and he signs off having achieved just that. It was three Cayman Opens to entice the world’s best women - and some men - to get the product right and the biggest one of all as a finale.
Nicol David claimed her seventh World Open title with a straight-games win over first-time finalist Laura Massaro in front of a packed, noisy and enthralled crowd last Friday night.
The 29-year-old Malaysian went into the match as hot favourite, having long since avenged two rare defeats to the Englishwoman ranked third in the world, but the match, although over in three games, was one of David’s toughest recent encounters. She won 11/6, 11/8, 11/6.
“I’m proud to make the final,” said Massaro, 29 too. “But a bit disappointed that the games but I couldn’t close any of them out. You have to work really hard to beat her, she doesn’t lose very often but we’re all working to get closer, but she steps up to the challenge too.
“I’ve had a great tournament and a great experience here, and congratulations to Nicol on another title.” “I can’t believe it,” said David. “I just wanted to win so much, to win again in Cayman, that seventh world title, I wanted it all! “It’s been a great experience here again, I’ll try to see a bit of the island before I leave tomorrow! Thanks to Dan, the sponsors and organisers, and the fantastic Cayman crowd, we feed off their energy, and they all do it better than anywhere else we go.
“Thanks also to my family and friends all watching back home, to my team here and in Amsterdam in Malaysia who have been with me all the way this week and from the beginning, to all the Malaysian supporters who always come and give me such great support, and a special thanks to the Squash City gang from Amsterdam who have come out here specially this week.”
Cayman’s Julian Jervis, the current Caribbean Junior Champion got to play against Egypt’s Nour El Sherbini, the current World Junior Champion and world No.8.
Cayman’s Cameron Stafford played former world No.7 and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mark Chaloner who is now based in Cayman.
Kneipp said: “It seemed like an impossible task in 2007 when I originally spoke about running the World Open in Cayman. With a lot of help we have done it!
“There are so many sponsors, volunteers, supporters and companies that we need to thank for helping us host the World Open. I have tried to do a thank you list in the event programme and hope I didn’t leave anyone out.
“The Cayman Islands National Squash Association’s Janet Sairsingh and Scott MacDonald have put a phenomenal amount of volunteer time into helping Cayman host the World Open. “I thought it would be nice to finish with a list of some of the best highlights for me during the tournament.
“El Sherbini was doing a workshop with a group of our juniors and went out of her way to point out to me how good she thought one of our young players is.
“When the best junior in the world, coming from the strongest junior programme in the world, compliments a young junior player, that has a lot of value.
“Guyana’s Caribbean champ Nicolette Fernandes’ great matches, particularly saving three match balls against former world No.1 Rachel Grinham before eventually winning in five games, was fantastic.
“The semi-final match between Massaro and El Weleily was all you could hope for in a match. Their contrasting style of play was very entertaining, with both saving match balls in the fifth.
“Part of the goal of hosting the World Open was the exposure and sports tourism that an event this size could bring.
“Our tournament was on the front page of BBC Sports for two days in a row. There was other direct benefits including the full Dartmouth squash team attending the event, with three other colleges coming to Cayman in the next few months. These were great examples of the international success of the event.
“Directly after a sponsor workshop one of the squash pros was reading a book beside the glass court. I was interested in what book was so riveting that she had to continue reading it the moment she got off the court. It was 50 Shades of Grey, and not a player that I expected to be reading this.
“The raffle winner of the Cayman Airways flights to New York was the marketing coordinator for Cayman Airways. I’m pretty sure he wanted the Ford Edge.
“We expected to have some rain during the event and ensured the court was well covered with the tent structure. Each year for the tournament we had very extensive event cancellation insurance to ensure that extreme bad weather wouldn’t ruin the event. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for us during the Cayman World Open with each night dry with a nice breeze. The girls loved the boat trips with Guy Harvey.
“Playing squash with the visiting pros is always fun. I had a particularly good time with El Tabey on the glass court, and a nasty game with Nat Grinham where she stood on the T and I scrambled around the rest of the court like a running fool.
“Mike Nelson and I have a lot of fun before the tournament choosing the player music and coordinating the intros. I’m glad none of the players tripped over walking around in the dark with a fog machine blasting them in the face to make it even harder to see.” The raffle to raise funds for the junior programme went well and the grateful recipient of the first prize of a 2013 Ford Edge was Jay Perez.