KINGSTON: Rising star Julian Morrison served off as the favourite as the 2016 Liguanea Club Open squash tournament, which got under way on Monday night. The former Caribbean junior champion is among 38 players vying for top honours in the week-long competition. Although highly touted, Morrison can take nothing for granted as the tournament employs a handicap format which creates a level playing field regardless of the competitors’ experience and skill levels. In addition, male and female players are going head to head as the competition has a gender-neutral draw. Facing stiff odds due to the handicaps, Morrison beat Roger Grant 21-19, 21-19 to start his campaign on the right note. The senior national team player has come into the competition razor-sharp, having played two highly competitive overseas tournaments within the last two months. However, the wide open field of competitors includes senior national team member Nathlee Boreland, who beat Mark Haddad 21-19, 21-19 in first round action. Also in contention is the skilled and strategic Stewart Maxwell, who defeated Alan Johnston 21-19, 21-19. Other early winners include Dave Morrison, who beat Nicola Guy 9-21, 22-20, 21-18 and Andrew Shim, who stopped Stuart Reid 21-16, 21-13. Tournament director David Harrison said the handicap format will keep spectators guessing right up until the final match. “We’re talking about a situation where the most skilled and experienced players are on even footing with any other contender, so every match is unpredictable,” he explained. “The Liguanea Club Open is always one of the most exciting tournaments on the squash calendar, and we anticipate that the 2016 competition will continue this tradition,” Harrison added. The competition, which began on Monday night, will run until Saturday, October 1, at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston. The early rounds will be played up to today and then the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals will be held tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, respectively. Matches start at 5:30 p.m. each evening. The 2016 Liguaea Club Open Squash Tournament is sponsored by Total, UHY Dawgen, Avis, Lifespan, KLAS ESPN Sports FM, Epic Technologies, Jamaica Biscuit Company and Cari-Med.