Good luck to all concerned in the ambitious new Squash Design Tour which is about to start in the USA.
The USA is a major growth area for squash and the development of new professional events is a logical extension of an increase in court numbers across the continent, the rapid growth of the US College circuit, and progressive health club chains like the Life Time group recognising the value of making squash one of their prime activities.
Now the Squash Design Pro Tour is set to launch with a tournament in Madison, Wisconsin, from October 20-25, followed by further events in Goshen, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Rhode Island, Philadelphia and Boca Raton, finishing on December 13.
That’s seven events in less than two months and represents a major breakthrough for the PSA and their ability to provide a solid tournament structure for ambitious young members in the States.
As well as the new events, it’s also good to see the Squash Design brand undergoing a commercial renaissance. I know that company founder Rich Walton was pleased to find a good home for the brand after one or two disappointments with earlier partnerships.
“We are hoping to increase awareness of squash by bringing more events across the United States,” said Sahel Anwar, partner in Squash Design and Premier Performance Squash. “It is our hope to organise this tour annually – bringing the sport to even more cities.”
In addition to players earning PSA World Ranking points and prize money, there will be a separate points standing for the Squash Design Tour which will allow the players to earn additional prize money based on their points standing.
Gus Cook, PSA Representative for the Americas, added: “The communities are excited to see international level events being played in their home clubs. The players, particularly the new rising stars, are happy to have a tour support their efforts, and showcase their talent. This is obviously good for squash.
“Having the events linked together on a timeline, and not being too far apart in location, should make it much easier financially for the players travelling from further away. The new tour could grow to include a number of additional new smaller size events in 2010 that will provide great opportunities for the up-and-coming US players along with many others too.”
Leading US touring pro Gilly Lane also added his enthusiasm for the new initiative, saying: “I am very excited for the upcoming Squash Design Tour. This series of events is great not only for the players but for the growth of squash in the US.
“With new tournaments in Wisconsin and Pittsburgh, Squash is expanding to areas all across the country. These tournaments will draw some of the world’s best players and provide a great showcase for our sport in America. I am looking forward to competing in these events and hope that it is a stepping stone for future US tours.”
SQUASH DESIGN TOUR: TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Madison Open: Madison, WI (Oct 20–25)
Goshen Open: Goshen, IN (Oct 25–31)
Pittsburgh Open: Pittsburgh, PA (Nov 04–08)
Baltimore Cup: Baltimore, MD (Nov 10–15)
Rhode Island Open: Newport, RI (Nov 18–22)
Fairmount Open: Philadelphia, PA (Dec 02–06)
Betty Griffin Memorial Florida State Open: Boca Raton, FL (Dec 08–13)
One league, three systems
One league and three scoring systems. Sounds confusing, but that’s the situation in Vancouver as the new season starts.
The Vancouver Squash League will feature PAR11 for Division One male players, PAR15 for Division One females, and traditional hand-in, hand-out to nine for all other competitors from Divisions Two to Eight.
We look forward to receiving some feedback from the VSL, who have posted the following notice on their website: “The above scoring systems will be in effect throughout the season and can only be discussed, changed or debated at the next AGM. We hope that you attend the next AGM to voice your opinion and vote on the direction that the league takes in future seasons.”
Alan Thatcher is a journalist, Squash’s No.1 TV commentator, a tournament promoter and a club coach. He is also busy with a sports club he recently co-founded in England (called TriSports) which provides sporting opportunities for young people, especially those who are homeless, unemployed or disadvantaged.