Day FOUR

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)

 

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TODAY in Cayman: Wed 6th, Day FOUR 

Women's Round One:

[Q] Sarah Kippax (Eng) bt [8] Annie Au (Hkg)
         11/4, 11/6, 9/11, 11/8 (39m)
[Q] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [6] Kasey Brown (Aus)
          11/6, 13/11, 14/12 (48m)
[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt Marlene West (Cay)
          11/5, 11/4, 11/3 (24m)
[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
           11/7, 11/6, 11/3 (29m)

Men's Quarter-Finals:

Chris Binnie (Jam) bt Cameron Stafford (Cay)
           11/9, 11/9, 11/4 (27m)
Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Shawn Simpson (Bar)
           11/3, 11/7, 14/12 (24m)


From the Observation Tower

[Q] Sarah Kippax (Eng) bt [8] Annie Au (Hkg)
         11/4, 11/6, 9/11, 11/8 (39m)

Annie's pain, Sarah's gain ...

You have to have a plan when you go on court against Annie Au, the diminutive Hong Kong stat's game is all about lobs, drops, flicks and destroying you at the front of the court.

Sarah Kippax
had a plan alright, the English qualifier was determined not to take Annie on at the front of the court, she would almost invariable lob anything Annie put short, and if she did go short herself it was only once, the next shot would go deep again, probably via the aerial route.

Annie just couldn't get herself into position to play the shots she thrives on, not often enough anyway, and she definitely didn't help her own cause with six unforced errors in each of the first two games as Sarah took the lead 11/4, 11/6.

She cut the errors out in the third though, and reaped the reward, taking an early lead and then earning three game balls at 10/7, taking it at the third attempted as Sarah, for once, tinned

Annie led the fourth too, 5/2, but Sarah was still moving well, still running down the attacks that Annie could muster, and lobbing like, well like Annie does.

She worked her way back to 7-all, then 8-all. A dropshot glued to the sidewall gave Sarah the lead, Annie's lob went out on the front wall to concede match ball, and after a rare exchange at the front Sarah punched Annie's weak lob deep with her opponent stranded at the front.

So it's a second Cayman quarter-final in a row for Sarah - she likes it here ...

I had a bad start in the first two games, but it's hard to play Sarah, she played well and she was just putting everything to the back. Today I just made too many errors.



I like it here so much I just have to keep winning!

I felt as though I played well today. Annie has such good touch at the front with her drops, so I just kept it deep as much as I could, ran down anything short hoping she'd have to cut it finer and finer until she made a mistake.

I lobbed a lot today, yes, I had to play her at her own game!


Checking the in-match updates with an iPad on the front row ...

[Q] Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [6] Kasey Brown (Aus)
          11/6, 13/11, 14/12 (48m)

Nat's Back

Well, she's been back for a while, has Natalie Grinham, but she's back beating some of the best in the world, which she hasn't been doing since returning to tournament play after the birth of her first child.

Following up a good week in Montreal - better than good, she won the title - she's still going, a a three-nil victory over sixth seed Kasey Brown really marks her return to the top tier.

Don't let the "three-nil" fool you though, this was a tough, tough game, and Kasey can feel very unlucky not to have taken a game at least, her effort, and it was some effort she put in today, deserved that.

Natalie took charge of the first game, taking the lead in just eight minutes as Kasey, who had never taken a game off her opponent in seven previous meetings, struggled to come to terms with Natalie's twisting and turning style of game.

For Kasey it was as much about running down everything she could, and hammering it back if she got the chance. That probably wouldn't have been her first choice of gameplan, but with Natalie playing a few patient shots then throwing in those boasts or offhand dropshots Kasey didn't have much choice in the matter.

A recurring theme was: Natalie in the back left corner chops the ball deftly to the opposite front corner, Kasey races in, can usually only play a counter drop, Natalie charges in behind her ... at that point Kasey has to predict what Natalie's going to do, sometimes successfully and she can put it away, sometimes she's left stranded. That happened a lot of times.

Anyway, Kasey hung in there in the second, 5-all, 6-all, got to 8/6 up and tinned an absolute sitter from two feet from the front wall with Natalie stranded on the back wall.

From there the rallies became even tougher, both performing almost miraculous recoveries at times. Natalie got to 10/8, Kasey had a chance at 11/10, but Natalie took it 13/11 ... that tin at 8/6 proved costly for Kasey.

At 3/0 up in the second Natalie broke a string, Kasey then took six points in a row to lead 6/3 then 7/4. Natalie levelled at 7-all, and from that point on it was like a repeat of the endgame of the second, but tenser, and tougher.

Kasey got one more chance at 10/9 to pull a game back, but put her boast into the tin. Natalie had match balls at 11/10 and 12/11, and with both players at times running like lunatics Kasey saved them both.

Natalie put in one of those crosscourt drops from the back, this time Kasey couldn't quite get there, and on her third match ball Natalie finishes it off with a stunning volley kill down the forehand wall. She's back alright ...

"I feel pretty exhausted after that, I've had a long run of matches now, I'm not used to it any more!

"Kasey's improved a lot over the last couple of years, she's much fitter and her shots are really good, it was tough to break her down. It's a tough court, at times in the third I thought I'd hit a perfect length or a winning drop, and she'd manage to get it back and on we went.

"I was doing well in the third, then my string broke - I've been playing well with that racket, I hadn't lost with it, and the new one had a different feel even though I string them the same, I started to lose the third easily and it took a while to get used to it.

"I actually think I'm playing better than before - I was world number two for a long time, and that brought extra pressure every time I went on court. Now I'm the underdog, I can play with more freedom and I'm really enjoying it. I've calmed down a lot in my normal life, but not on court!

It's a challenge to play on the tour and be a parent too, but I love challenges ..."

 

[3] Rachael Grinham (Aus) bt Marlene West (Cay)
                           11/5, 11/4, 11/3 (24m)

Rachael ends Cayman hopes

"So we get you over here, give you a good hotel, lovely sunshine and beaches, Stingray trips and all that, and that's how you repay us ?!?!?" joked MC Dan Kneipp after third seed Rachael Grinham had dished out a three-nil beating to Cayman's own champion and wildcard Marlene West.

Actually Rachael gave Marlene a good game, but as Marlene herself said, "there's such a gap once you start hitting the top players. Top thirty you can have a go, top ten you're in trouble, but when you reach the top three, whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ...."

The large, enthusiastic crowd played its part and the Camana Bay stage of the 2010 Cayman Islands Open was well and truly under way ...
 

[1] Nicol David (Mas) bt Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
           11/7, 11/6, 11/3 (29m)

Jaclyn's good, but Nicol's Nicol ...

Jaclyn Hawkes reckons that she played, and won, one of the best matches of her life last week in Montreal, and tonight she certainly looked to be playing well, and she led 7/6 in the first and 5/2 in the second.

Trouble is, last week she was playing the world junior champion, tonight she was playing Nicol David.

These days Nicol doesn't do the 'Duracell Bunny' of old, with all the franticness that that trademark suggests - she just glides around the court, she doesn't rush, she doesn't seem to hit it very hard, but she's always there, she always has time, and she always puts the ball just where you don't want it to be.

So she ground out those first two games, reeling off a string of points at the end of each, and then, having made Jaclyn work hard in the humid conditions, she reeled off six unanswered points at the start of the third to effectively finish the match as a contest.

MC Dan said that he wants to see her lose a game in this her third visit to Cayman.

Nicol was polite, as she always is, but if Dan's to be granted his wish someone's going to have to play well, very well.
 

 

Chris Binnie (Jam) bt Cameron Stafford (Cay)
           11/9, 11/9, 11/4 (27m)

Binnie still has the hold on Cameron

"I was really nervous at the start," said Cayman's Caribbean Junior Champion Cameron Stafford after the first men's match on the Camana Bay glass court. "I've played Chris lots of times and he's always beaten me, so I really wanted to win this time, but I played terribly!"

Binnie, the Caribbean Senior Champion of 2009 who recently won the deciding match to maintain Trinity College's 12-year unbeaten streak in US College Squash alive, disagreed:

"That was really tough, Cameron is playing so much better than I remember, I was just hanging in for the first two games and somehow managed to win the last two points, then in the third all my shots just seemed to come off!"

Yes, he faded in the third, but Cameron, who after a few months training in Amsterdam has just turned professional, did play well in those first two games, and without the pressure of expectation from the home crowd he's sure to do well in his first ventures as a pro.

He received a nice boost when one of the tournament sponsors Cayman Airways brought a surprise present onto court, a dozen flights to the US mainland to help him compete in some of the many PSA tournaments held there. Nice one, Cayman Airways, nice one.
 

Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt Shawn Simpson (Bar)
           11/3, 11/7, 14/12 (24m)

Ramy magic wows Caribbean crowd

"I don't think a Caribbean player has ever taken a game off o world number one and world champion," MD Dan told Shawn Simpson after the tall Bajan had taken on Egyptian wizard Ramy Ashour in the second men's match. "But you came close, so close!"

Yes, this was Ramy in exhibition mode, and the crowd loved it, even his opponent was applauding at some of the shots he was coming out with, but Shawn wasn't fazed, as can sometimes happen in this type of matchup, and at times gave as good as he got.

He has a lot of power, does Shawn, and a hell of a reach, and he used both well. They also had one of the longest drop drop drop battle in the front right corner that I've ever seen, so he has touch too, does the big man.

And yes, he got a game ball, at 10-9 in the third, but but Ramy snuffed that chance out. Still, it was 24 minutes of magic that the crowd will remember - and so will Shawn, who, far from being nervous, absolutely relished the chance to be on court with Ramy.

Ramy himself was full of praise for the tournament, Cayman, and the CINSA junior programme - just as well, as he took on one of their youngest for a few points afterwards ...

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Day FOUR

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