The 2016 Keith Grainger Memorial UCT Open Squash Championships kicked off on Friday 22 April with the U11, U14 and U16 School kids completing their 1st round of matches.
A record number of participants has entered the 11th running of this event with 132 men and 49 women players representing 19 nations.
20 International players from Germany, Nigeria, Egypt, England, Austria, France, South Korea, Canada, Argentina, Kuwait and Iraq will compete against 30 South Africans in the main PSA draws. All eyes will be on top seeds World no 98 Shehab Essam (Egypt) and World no 66 Sina Wall (Germany) in the main draws. 2014 Champion World no 293 Oliver Pett (England) will also be a player to watch. Local South African hopes will rest on the shoulders of WP player and current SA no 1 Rodney Durbach, who slots into the main draw. In the Women’s section SA no 3 Cheyna Tucker is the no 2 seed with no 3 seed Milnay Louw a local Cape Townian who will hope to reach another PSA final as she did a week before in the Gauteng Open, losing to Egyptian U17 Champion Rowan Elaraby.
The tournament caters for all ages, from the professional players in the main draws right down to the Boys U11 section. This year the tournament has partnered with WP Masters and sees the event including the WP Masters Open in it, resulting in 53 Masters players playing in the event with the oldest player an amazing 75 year old.
A coaching clinic was run by UCT Coach Wesley Daniels today with the help of professional players Oliver Plett (Eng), Matthew Serediak (Canada) and Ahmad Al-Mudhaf (Kuwait) who ran a question and answer session on what it takes to play on the professional circuit followed by an hour coaching session, 40 boys and girls from 9 years up to 17 enjoyed meeting the pros and picking up some tips, photos attached, taken by Kerr Rogers
After numerous years working with Cancer SA, this year the tournament is excited to be working with the Sunflower Fund, which is an organisation in South Africa dedicated to creating awareness, educating the public and handling the registration process for people to join the South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR). The Sunflower Fund pays for the test cost of people joining the SABMR.
By increasing the number of donors listed on the national database, this offers hope to children and adults diagnosed with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders. Higher numbers on the Registry increase their chance of finding matching bone marrow stem cell donors in order to undergo life-saving bone marrow stem cell transplants. Throughout the week we will be running awareness information sessions and interacting with staff from the Sunflower fund office.
The tournament is named after Keith because of his input to squash at UCT between 1999 -2001, despite his cancer and having his leg amputated. He died in September 2001 during his 3rd year at UCT. (19/4/79 – 16/9/01). He went to UCT as an amputee, but still loved squash, and made his main focus at UCT being part of the squash club and contributing as best he could. He would go on court (with an artificial leg) and hit balls to beginners and help them with technique, etc. He was also centrally involved with organising the first UCT Squash Tour to the USA in December 2000, and went on the tour as manager – also playing a couple of matches en route!
In 2001 Professor Simpson, Chairman of the UCT Sports Council at the time, awarded Keith posthumously, his Chairperson’s Award – in Professor Simpson’s words “An award made solely at the discretion of the Chair of Sports Council to someone or some group of people who had made an outstanding contribution to sport, but for whom the awards on offer are not applicable. If anything, the task has got tougher each year, but to be quite frank, this year’s recipient was so clearly the obvious choice that it took me but a few seconds to make that decision. My award goes to a young man who contributed hugely to sport at UCT in a number of ways. Organiser, supporter, and most of all because he was such an example to others. My award, posthumously, goes to Keith Grainger. (I believe this announcement was greeted by a standing ovation from the floor!).
The Tournament is a reminder of the spirit of Keith and his amazing squash crazy family! Keith’s sister, Natalie, a former World No 1 squash player, supports the tournament from the USA and is instrumental in raising funds and profile for the event. Jean and Chris, Keith’s parents donate trophies and continue to show case the event from Johannesburg. Jean, a former British Open & Current World Masters Champion in her age group are very active on and off the court and continue to promote the game all over the World.