The 2013 Delaware Investments U.S. Open is to become the first competition in squash to hold an equal prize fund for both the women’s and men’s championships.
The World Squash Federation announced earlier this week that U.S Squash had confirmed its ground-breaking plans to raise the WSA event’s prize total to $115,000 to strike parity with the men’s event.
The women’s competition will also be raised to a 32-player draw, as with the PSA event, to provide greater opportunity for female players to compete in the World Series tournament.
“It is a top priority for us to promote opportunities for girls and women to play squash,” said Kevin Klipstein, CEO of U.S. Squash. “Offering equal prize money is one way we are able to help more female squash players compete at the highest level and to their full potential.
“In the US we have the same number of girls playing as boys and a nearly equal number of women and men competing in college.”
“The women’s tour has an incredible, dynamic and entertaining World Champion and recent U.S. Open Champion in Nicol David. The women’s tour is equally as significant and competitive as the men’s tour, and the opportunities for both genders should be equivalent.”
The total prize fund for the 2013 U.S. Open will stand at $230,000, split equally between the two tours, which makes it among the largest prize money events worldwide. The popular tournament last year enticed every top ranked WSA player, and the prestigious event has not seen a victorious returning champion since Cassie Jackman last won the title in 2003.
In professional sports, tennis has become the role model for prize money parity since the U.S. Open in tennis did so in the early 1970’s.
The US breakthrough is also hailed by the World Squash Federation: “This initiative for the US Open signals clearly how seriously we take the promotion of our top women athletes alongside their male counterparts,” said WSF President N Ramachandran. “Our United States federation deserves great congratulations.”
WSA World Tour CEO Ingrid Lofdahl-Benzer too has expressed her delight at the announcement. She said: “U.S. Squash must be commended for this fantastic news. Parity with the men’s championship in the U.S Open is another step along a highly exciting time for women’s squash, and it sends a great message to the world that squash is a modern and forward thinking sport, that our players are just as worthy of the spotlight and deserve to reap just as much of a reward for their efforts.”