Day 1: Keith Grainger Memorial UCT Squash Open

Day 1 of the 12th Keith Grainger Memorial UCT Squash Open is behind us. 93 men and 32 women have entered playing in the PSA sections, masters and open sections with the oldest player a remarkable 74 years old, playing in the 65-75 men’s age group. The South African men’s qualifiers took place today to determine which 8 South Africans would qualify into the PSA Qualifiers draw which starts tomorrow. 2 matches went to 5 games and the crowds were entertained to some determined gruelling rallies with old rivals taking on each other. Matches were played in great spirits and high quality and the perfect start to a week of top level squash.

Here are the results: check out for instant updates:

Keith Granger 1The 8 South African locals were then randomly drawn to play against the PSA players and this is how it looks:

Keith Granger 2All eyes will be on the Mohamed ElSherbini [Egypt] vs local WP player Rowan Smith. Mohamed has already won both previous PSA tournaments in South Africa, over the past 2 weeks, the West Rand and ASSORE & BALWIN PARKVIEW OPEN. Local crowds are intrigued to see how he fares coming from altitude conditions to coastal Cape Town. Tomorrow is also the start of the Women’s PSA Qualifiers with a full draw of 16 South Africans battling it out for 4 spots in the main draw. Seen below:

Keith Granger 3The tournament has once again partnered 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 & 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.

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