Palmer builds on bond with Bermuda

  • Holding court: Cornell University players are spending a week training at the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association in Devonshire. Back row, David Palmer, head coach, Lily Zelov, Samira Chatrathi, Madison Miles, Lauren Leizman, Hannah Scherl, Colby Gallagher and Nghi Nguyen. Front, Steph Tan, Adinah Scherl, Tory Huchro, Mimi deLisser and Lucy Martin

(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

David Palmer, the former world No 1 squash player, has continued to build on his long-standing affinity with Bermuda by bringing Cornell University’s squad to the island for a week-long training camp at the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association in Devonshire.

The two-times world champion and Commonwealth Games gold medal-winner has been familiar with Bermuda since first venturing to the island in the early 2000s, even living in the country at one stage during his professional career.

Now in his new role as head coach of squash at the private and statutory Ivy League University in Ithaca, New York, Palmer is continuing to build on his previously established relationships by returning with 28 elite playing pupils to train, as well as helping to coach Bermuda’s young players, with the added help of women’s world No 37, Hollie Naughton from Canada.

“The connections and relationships we have made here are great for everyone involved and everyone benefits,” Palmer said.

“This is our winter break trip and it is fantastic to be able to bring the team over for some warm-weather training as well as practising with the young local players.

“It just ticks all the boxes for us. The island is beautiful, the weather is good and the squash courts are fantastic; it’s been really beneficial for us.

“It is always great to be able to give back and also for my team to be able to give back and so that’s something we are always keen to do.

“From the years I’ve been coming to Bermuda, squash has always been really promising here. The youth programme just keeps getting bigger and bigger and some really talented players have come from this programme, which is fantastic. The hard work being done here is obviously paying off and the results are showing.”

That hard work has already heralded impressive results with the likes of James Stout, Nick Kyme, Micah Franklin and Noah Browne all making inroads into the professional ranks on the world stage.

The historical success of the sport on the island is a proud achievement for Patrick Foster, director of squash at the Bermuda Squash Racquets Association, who hailed the benefits of the relationship with Palmer as well as his aspirations for the sport’s continued growth.

“It’s great for us to be able to welcome David here,” Foster said. “He is a double world champion and has an ongoing relationship with Bermuda, which has now evolved to him bringing his students here as well, which is fantastic.

“Its great for Bermuda to be able to bring in these groups from major universities. I know there’s a big push tourism wise to attract these groups in and we are lucky to have that relationship with some of the best players in the world.

“Our national team kids will be in training with the Cornell students and David Palmer and so that’s an incredible opportunity for them. Our programme has produced some fantastic players over the years and we are constantly pushing and trying to improve and build on what we have already done.

“We have professional events coming up in March and opportunities for everyone to move up in the rankings. The junior programme is also packed, which is brilliant, and we are seeing some fantastic results from such a small island. It’s all about inspiring children at a young age, giving them pathways to progress and then maintaining that interest as they grow up.

“Hopefully, we can keep giving people the opportunities to progress in this sport because historically we’ve always done well in Bermuda. There is plenty to be optimistic about.