Day ONE

Cayman Islands Open  11-17 April 2010 Grand Cayman

 
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"The Cayman Open is run by CINSA (Cayman Islands National Squash Association)

 

Up ] SEMIS ] QUARTERS ] Day FOUR ] Day THREE ] Day TWO ] [ Day ONE ]

Sun 3rd, Day ONE

South Sound here we come

While the court build goes on at Camana Bay, the qualifying draw for the biggest WISPA event of 2011 so far was made last night, and it threw up some appealing matchups.

Add to that some men's first round matches, all taking place on South Sound's court one and it added up to an exciting first day.

The strength of the WISPA event was such that many of today's matches would have graced the final stages of many tournaments, and several of today's losers can consider themselves pretty unlucky.

Local wildcards Eilidh Bridgman and Kristina Myren got their first taste of WISPA, enjoyed the experience but in truth never threatened Amanda Sobhy and Isabelle Stoehr. Elsewhere there were fierce matches aplenty with Donna Urquhart, Aisling Blake, and Emma Beddoes winning particularly tough encounters. Latasha Khan recorded an upset win over Samantha Teran, Natalie Grinham underlined her return to somewhere near her best, and Sarah Kippax was too strong for late replacement Nayelly Hernandez.

The men's matches saw defending champion Colin Ramasra, Caribbean Champion Richard Chin, and Barbados legend Gavin Cumberbatch all go through safely enough, and the crowd was given a final treat as Ramy Ashour put on an exhibition of skill and humour against local favourite Myron Blair.

"At 1-all in the first I though 'he's not really that good'," said Myron, "but he proved it after that!"

Tomorrow sees qualifying finals and four more men's first round matches.

Qualifying Round One:

Amanda Sobhy (USA)
bt Eilidh Bridgman (Cayman)  
   
             11/1, 11/1, 11/3  (14m)
Isabelle Stoehr (France)
bt Kristina Myren (Cayman)
                 11/1, 11/0, 11/7 (15m)

Donna Urquhart (Australia) bt Joey Chan (Hong Kong)
                   7/11, 11/7, 5/11, 11/9, 11/7 (50m)
Aisling Blake (Ireland)
bt Manuela Manetta (Italy)
                 
 12/10, 9/11, 12/10, 9/11, 11/6 (70m)

Emma Beddoes (England) bt Nicolette Fernandes (Guyana)
                   17/15, 11/8, 7/11, 11/6 (57m)
Sarah Kippax (England)
bt Nayelly Hernandes (Mexico)
 
                  11/4, 11/5, 11/1 (20m)

Latasha Khan (USA)
bt Samantha Teran (Mexico)
                    11/9, 8/11, 12/10, 11/4 (39m)
Natalie Grinham (Netherlands)
bt Delia Arnold (Malaysia)
  
                 11/6, 12/10, 11/1 (32m)

Men's Round One:

Colin Ramasra (Trinidad & Tobago) bt Regan Pollard (Guyana)
                   11/3, 11/9, 11/4 (22m)

Gavin Cumberbatch (Barbados) bt David Finch (Cayman)
                   11/4, 11/7, 11/3 (22m)

Richard Chin (Guyana) bt Bruce Burrowes (Jamaica)
                  
11/5, 11/4, 11/2 (20m)

Ramy Ashour (Egypt) bt
Myron Blair (Cayman
                   11/2, 11/5, 11/6 (21m)   
 


Day One Photo Gallery

Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Eilidh Bridgman (Cayman)  
         11/1, 11/1, 11/3  (14m)
Isabelle Stoehr (France)
bt Kristina Myren (Cayman)
        11/1, 11/0, 11/7 (15m)

No joy for Cayman Juniors

"I've been thinking about this match for a long time," admitted Eiledh (pronounced Ayley) Bridgman after the Caribbean's third best junior had taken on the best in the world, Amanda Sobhy. "I was hoping to get one of the older players really, because Amanda's only six months older than me, it's frightening really."

In truth the match was a gentle workout for the reigning World Junior Champion, who went up 8/0 in the first and 10/0 in the second before Eilidh scored solitary points.

The South Sound crowd were supportive, as ever, and they got earlier chances to cheer in the third as Eilidh put in a couple of scorching winners to get to 2-all, before Amanda finished it off.

"People who know me know that I get nervous before any match," said Eilidh, "so I was especially so for this one. I just wanted to be able to hit the ball and get into some rallies, which I did, so I'm happy enough with that."

Sobhy enjoyed her first match in the Caymans, and also enjoyed "not being the underdog in a WISPA match for once!" Tournament promoter and compere Dan Kneipp assured her that the crowd would get behind the American, who is missing the US senior championships to play here, in future rounds.


The second match also featured a local junior taking on a world top twenty player.

Kristina Myren
, the Caribbean number two who is heading to Mount Holyoke College in September, took a little longer to get into her stride against Isabelle Stoehr, losing 22 of the first 23 points, but she opened the third with a boast into the nick and got more involved in the rallies from there.

Asked how the experience was for her, Kristina said "tiring, but good experience. I was a little slow at the beginning but I started getting into it more and really enjoyed it in the end."

Stoehr, playing here for the third time, having entertained the crowd during the match brought a peal of laughter when asked what the difference was between the time when she was world #10 compared to her current #20 status.

"I'm just getting old!" declared the Frenchwoman.

Donna Urquhart (Australia) bt Joey Chan (Hong Kong)
                    7/11, 11/7, 5/11, 11/9, 11/7 (50m)
Aisling Blake (Ireland) bt Manuela Manetta (Italy)
                 
 12/10, 9/11, 12/10, 9/11, 11/6 (70m)

Donna & Aisling take five again

They'd only met twice before, but the one win each for Donna Urquhart and Joey Chan had both been five-setters, so the third women's match of the day promised a thriller, and it didn't disappoint.

Looking at the physical stature of the two players you'd expect a much bigger difference in style of play, but in fact they play similar games. Yes, Urquhart has more power when it comes to putting that final ball away, and definitely has a better reach especially when probing toward the front of the court, but Chan certainly wasn't overpowered and had a little more variety in the touch department.

So, an even game it was. Chan led throughout the first, Urquhart pulled clear from 5-6 in the second as the first two games were shared. Chan led all the way in the third, benefitting from a few Urquhart errors, Urquhart pulled away from 6-7 to 10-7 in the third and got a little nervous as Chan saved two game balls before tinning on the third.

Another decider, then, and it was the Australian who got the better start, 3/0. Chan levelled at 3-all, then 4-all, but Urquhart was exerting more pressure now, and making less errors, and she it was who took control, opening up to 8/4 and taking the match on the second match ball.

"We always have tough matches, so I knew this was going to be another one," said a relieved Donna. "I was a bit too anxious to start with, trying to finish the rallies off and making too many errors.

"At 2/1 down I told myself it was now or never, I played more patiently and was trying to force the error from her rather than going for it myself. Towards the end of the fourth I sensed she was tiring a little, so I knew I had to keep the pressure on."

A second, equally predictable, five-setter followed as Aisling Blake, world #26, took on Manuela Manetta, world #30. This was their first meeting since WISPA moved to PAR scoring, and they evidently decided they needed to play a lot of points to remember the old days by.

They have similar styles, both willing runners and good defenders, a little weaker on the attacking front, so the rallies were long from the outset, and never got much shorter.

There was nothing it it in the first game, Blake losing a 10/8 advantage before taking it 12/10, but Manetta had the slight edge in the second to level. Blake again led 10/8 in the third, again won it 12/10, but Manetta's 6/1 lead in the fourth looked decisive, which it was.

The momentum swung for a final time in the fifth, the Irishwoman taking 4/2, 6/3 and 8/4 leads, finishing it off after 70 minutes.

"That was tough," she declared afterwards, "I don't know how long it was but it felt like an eternity! Manuela keeps telling me she's not training, she's not fit, so I'd hate to play her when she is ...

"It's my first time in Cayman, and from what I've sen so far it looks great. I'll have to be careful with the sun though, with my skin colour I could easily end up looking like a tomato after five minutes!"

Emma Beddoes (England) bt Nicolette Fernandes (Guyana)
                   17/15, 11/8, 7/11, 11/6 (57m)
Sarah Kippax (England) bt Nayelly Hernandes (Mexico)
 
                  11/4, 11/5, 11/1 (20m)

Beddoes battles through, Kippax cruises

"I'm playing well, but the results just aren't coming," said Nicolette Fernandes after losing a gruelling, at times brutal battle against Emma Beddoes. "If she keeps playing like that she'll soon start winning," returned the victor.

It was a great start for the Caribbean favourite as she raced into an 8/2 lead in the opener. "She surprised me at the start," admitted Beddoes, "playing very fast and volleying everything, she didn't play like that when we met last year in London.

The Englishwoman adapted soon enough though, and although she found herself 10/5 down she had already started to lengthen the rallies, which became longer ant tougher as she mounted a comeback. She levelled at 10-all, went ahead, then tinned an easy short ball at the front to give the Guyanan a lifeline.

Fernandes had two more chances at 12/11 and 14/13, but it was Beddoes who took the game on her fourth opportunity, 17/15.

It was understandable that Fernandes was a little flat at the start of the second, and Beddoes' 5/2 lead was enough to see her take a two game advantage. To her credit though, Nicolette came out fighting again in the third, and from 7-all deservedly pulled a game back, 11/7.

The fourth was shaping up to be a battle too, point for point up to 6-all, but then a couple of errors from Nicolette and a couple of wrongfooting winners from Emma and there was daylight and Emma finished it off 11/6.

"It's such a tough draw," said the victor. "I'm 24 in the world and there's only maybe two players ahead of me not in the event. On paper Nicolette was one of the easier qualifying draws, but I knew it was going to be tough and she's definitely improved since we last played.

"I love playing here, it's so good to play in front of such an enthusiastic crowd."

Dan Kneipp pointed out that Emma seemed to be enjoying it in Cayman already, parts of her glowing a lovely shade of pink. "I know," she said, "but I was only out for a little while this afternoon, I was in the shade but your sunshine has got me already!"

England's Sarah Kippax only arrived in Cayman today, but at least she knew she was coming - her opponent, Nayelly Hernandez, got a last-minute callup after the withdrawal of Laura Massaro, so her afternoon arrival wasn't the best preparation.

Chances are Kippax would have won anyway, she looked to be in good form, and was always in control of the match.

"I got to the quarter-finals here last year," said Sarah, "I really like being here and it seems to make me play well. I felt good on there tonight, I was moving and striking the ball well, so I hope I can do well here again this tear.

 

Latasha Khan (USA) bt Samantha Teran (Mexico)
                    11/9, 8/11, 12/10, 11/4 (39m)
 Natalie Grinham (Netherlands) bt Delia Arnold (Malaysia)
  
                 11/6, 12/10, 11/1 (32m)

Khan takes advantage, Nat rolls on ...

Samantha Teran came into this match with a 8-1 head to head advantage over Latasha Khan, but as the seven-time American champion said, "we've played two hour matches before now, so neither of us came into the match thinking it was going to be easy."

Easy it wasn't, with well-contested rallies throughout, Teran as usual trying to keep the pace ferociously fast, Khan willing to join in, but also seemingly more able to bring the rallies to an end tonight.

Khan led throughout the first, Teran pulled away from 4-all in the second holding off a late comeback by Khan, who came from 6/8 down to get to ten first in the third before taking it 12/10.

And that was the turning point as Latasha dominated the fourth, completing the first upset of the day with a six-minute game.

"The ball was really dead," explained the winner, "and I seemed to be able to deal with it better. I was ready to play for two hours tonight, I'm fit and I'm moving well, so I was surprised that it was a relatively short match, but I'm happy to take the win!"

Teran's explanation was succinct: "She played very well, I didn't."

As if to underline the strength of the women's field, the last match of the day featured the world #20 versus the world #34. Malaysia's Delia Arnold was the higher-ranked player, but her opponent was Natalie Grinham, the former world number two whose comeback after having her first child is picking up pace rapidly - indeed she won the Atwater Cup in Montreal yesterday.

For two games it was a close contest, Arnold playing consistently, retrieving at times brilliantly, as she does. Grinham looks significantly fleeter of foot - indeed the word on the street from Montreal was that she's back to her fastest - and that gives her the ability to play her deceptive flicks, drops and lobs with more time, and she was using all those to good advantage.

Grinham led the first 4/1 and 9/4 before taking the lead, but the second was close all the way. From 6-all the rallies grew longer and tougher, the retrieving - from both - drew gasps from the packed South Sound crowd, and there was a little biot of edge between the players too, which all added to the tension.

Arnold got game ball at 10/9, Grinham scrambled to save that, and the Malaysian's frustration when she carelessly tinned at 10/11 was there for all to see.

And that was that, Natalie was dominant in the third, Delia's fight had gone as she slumped to a 10-0 deficit, which soon enough became 11/1.

"Considering I was up at 5am this morning, and travelled here from Montreal, I think I might have been a good draw today," said the winner. "I felt a bit slow at the start, but once I got into the match I felt much better.

"I've started picking up on my fitness and movement over the last few weeks, and although it's still a learning experience bringing Kieran with me to tournaments, it's good that all the girls are more than happy to babysit for me, so thanks to them!"
  

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Day ONE

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