Squash queen Cathryn Hindess is one of the most successful athletes to have represented the Cayman Islands in any sport.
She was multi-talented junior winning numerous titles and was good enough to turn pro and compete at the world championships. Hindess, 43, also won numerous senior titles in Cayman, regionally and internationally and since retiring has given back as a coach.
Hindess was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 1973 to Englishman Derek and Anne Tyler who was from Ireland. She was four when her father accepted a teaching post in the Cayman Islands and relocated his family here.
Her parents were huge squash fans and became regulars at the Downtowner Squash Club, the local squash and tennis spot located on Elgin Avenue until the early 90s, which meant that little Cathryn became a regular there too.
Hindess recalls that between her parents’ games she would go on court and hit the ball around. “It was here that my love affair with squash was born; I was six years old”,” she said.
She attended the Prep School, Catholic School and the then Cayman Islands Middle School and confesses that her original sport of interest was swimming, but due to the time spent around squash, she developed a natural talent and affinity for it, playing her first local tournament aged 7. Hindess recalls that she was only 9 when she was “beaten up pretty well” in her first regional tournament by Barbadian squash star, Natalie Webber, who was at the time four years older. At the end of the tournament Hindess still walked away with her first trophy and the title of Promising Player. It was a title that she proved most fitting by returning to the Caribbean Junior Squash Championship the following year, fulfilling her potential by claiming the championship and holding that championship title for the following eight years in junior competitions.
At 10 she played in the United States Open (summer and winter) and Canadian Open (summer and winter) and won the Harvard Open in Boston. She returned to those tournaments until she was 16. Then, with the unwavering support of her parents, at 17, Hindess decided to go pro.
She started her professional career in France where she debuted with a national ranking of 45. She lived in Cergy Pontoise for one year and by the time she was ready to leave she had climbed to the No.12 ranking.
In 1991, she played in the World Squash Championships and upon her return home, decided that after almost a decade of competitive play, it was time to take a break from major tournaments and focus instead on representing Cayman in regional championships such as the Caribbean Squash Championships and the Northern Caribbean Squash Championships (Rose Bowl).Hindess remained in Cayman for about five years before moving again to the United Kingdom in 1997. Predictably, she found a squash home while there, playing county squash until she returned home in 1999 to give birth to her only child, Kieran.
Hindess is the first and only certified Caymanian SRA level 2 squash coach; a qualification that she has put to exceptional use for the advancement of junior squash locally. After a prolonged absence of a local junior squash programme, she restarted the programme at the beginning of the millennium.
She fielded a juniors national team (which she coached) at CASA in Barbados in 2001; and a year later with the same athletes returned to CASA in Jamaica, where her best junior Chantelle Day won the championship. This was in addition to having two other players, Samantha Hennings and Alain Mudeen, place in the top three of the rankings in their respective age groups. As a result of Hindess and her parents’ efforts, the junior programme was not only revived, but is thriving today, producing a few top players.
Following a 12-year hiatus from the sport, Hindess returned in 2015 to claim fourth place in the local club championships as well as to win the Ladies National Vets Tournament against local champion, Janet Sairsingh. In an amazing game of wit and skill from both players Hindess closed the game with a 3-2 victory.
She is the first to admit that she maintains a love-hate relationship with squash. It is a relationship that has existed for most of her life. Yet no matter how far away she moves, or how many breaks she takes from the sport, she returns to squash.
Despite having retired in 2004, she can still be found on court, whether enjoying a game with her father, Derek, or playing doubles with the women who frequent the club.
Her ongoing attraction to squash is partly nostalgic; a dedication to her late mother who was her coach for most of her U.S. and Canadian tournaments. She remembers all too fondly, how great it felt as a child to continually progress to greater heights while having her parents cheering her on from the stands.
Hindess wants to see a new generation of squash athletes emerge and have the opportunity and exposure that she received through the game so many years ago. It is this desire that drove her to help restore the youth programme in 2000. It is this enthusiasm that allowed her to push limits, break down barriers, inspire many and pave the way for women in sports generally.
Her advice to youngsters is: “Believe in yourself; if you can see it, it is possible.”