A sense of accomplishment for West & Stafford

Cayman Islands squash players Cameron Stafford and Marlene West at the XXI Commonwealth Games.

Cayman’s top mixed doubles duo of Marlene West and Cameron Stafford leave the XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia with a sense of accomplishment after their best finish at this level.

After splitting their pair of matches in pool play, with a win against Kenya and a defeat to Wales, the Cayman pair drew the third seeded team of Donna Urguhart and Cameron Pilley of Australia in the round of 16 on 12 April.

Playing on the show court at Oxenford Studios, it was always going to be a tough task against the home favourites.

The first game featured several entertaining rallies with West and Stafford making their opponents work hard for the 11-7 win. The Aussies started the second game with purpose, building a 4-0 lead. As with the first, the crowd showed their appreciation for the hustle and skill on display, including a between the legs shot from Stafford that brought them to life. In the end, the Australians took the match in straight games, winning the second 11-5.

“I enjoyed this game a lot more, even though they were tougher opponents. I think that my mental psyche was better this time,” said West, comparing the knock-out match to the previous two in round robin pool play.

Marlene West attacks the ball in their match against Australia.

“You forget that you should enjoy yourself instead of taking it so seriously and when you do enjoy it, you play a lot better and that showed today,” she added.

Stafford agreed: “I was happy with this performance. Even though we came up against strong opponents, the main thing was to go out there, enjoy it and represent Cayman on the world stage the best you can.”

Asked whether they did what they came to do Down Under, West replied: “Yeah. I would say so. We were more successful than we were the last one, so definitely mission accomplished.”

They now turn their attention to the CAC (Central American and Caribbean) Games in Colombia this summer, where they plan to defend their gold medal won four years ago.

Stafford said although on a larger stage, the Commonwealth Games serves as good preparation for their quest to repeat at CAC champions. “It just helps to sharpen our racket skills and get good match-practice going into CAC,” he said. “It will be a tough task to defend our gold medals but if we get more practice, some more training in, we’ll be ready to go.”

45-year-old West, who has just completed her fifth Commonwealth Games, said she plans to play for the rest of this year before hanging up her racket from international competition, although Stafford joked that his partner has “many years left in her”.

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