She has joined forces with Jeff O’Donnell and Jason McLaughlan to revitalise the sport against a backdrop of massive court closures.
O’Donnell writes: “I live on the Northern Beaches and in the last 15 years we have gone from a situation of having more than 100 squash courts to only three at one centre.
“The last three are currently being managed poorly, and it is rumoured that the current manager wants to convert the courts into a childcare centre.
“I have teamed up with Michelle Martin (former squash great) and Jason McLauchlan, owner of the MAASH Squash Club, to try and take over the centre and turn it back into a successful centre once again.
“We would appreciate any assistance and have set up a Facebook page to spread the word and generate some support.
“We must win this battle and any assistance you could provide would be greatly appreciated.”
Michelle Martin, who hails from Sydney, was one of the game’s leading players in the 1990s. She won the World Open title three times and runner-up on another four occasions. She collected six British Open titles and spent 44 months at the top of the women’s ranking from March 1993 to October 1996 before England’s Cassie Jackman ended her spell of domination.
Michelle and her group have already received coverage in the Manly Daily with the following article penned by Joe Barton:
MICHELLE Martin is on a mission to revive the once powerful sport of squash on the peninsula.
Back in the early 1990s, when the former squash champion was at the peak of her powers, it is entirely possible that the northern beaches had suitable squash courts.
But now, she says, it is hard to find a court where she enjoys playing – and that needs to change if the sport is to make a comeback.
“Everyone who mentions squash just says that it’s dying – but the half the battle we have is right down to the facilities,” she said.
“The facilities we have are pretty dungeon-like. I know I don’t enjoy playing down at Manly because I can’t hit the ball straight down the wall. If you get a ball and roll it along the floor, you don’t know which way it is going to roll. It should roll straight because it’s supposed to be level, but that’s the state of the centre.
“But who is going to spend the money on it? It’s up to the council to spend the money on it.”
The Commonwealth Games gold medallist knows it is not going to be easy, but she won’t give up without a fight.
“I want a new centre,” she said. “I know it’s a big ask, but you just say to yourself, ‘if nobody is going to do it, then it’s just not going to happen’. The council has never had to put their hands up for squash, there’s (no facilities) there, and the sport is dying for a reason – because there’s nowhere to play.
“Worldwide it’s not dying, it’s growing in America, it’s growing in the Middle East because they’re putting back in to squash.”
Martin’s mission has started junior squash coaching sessions between Manly Giltinans and Courtsportz on Monday afternoons.
“We haven’t had a huge amount of kids taking part as yet, but it’s about word of mouth,” she said. “The plan is to start it this way and see if we can continue to get more kids involved.”