German company hope for record orders after Glasgow success
Leading squash court manufacturer ASB are hoping for record orders over the coming year following the universally-acclaimed success of their courts at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Scotland.
In addition to installing six singles courts – convertible to four doubles courts – at the Scotstoun Sports Campus in Glasgow, the pioneering German brand provided a new all-glass showcourt in a specially-constructed 2,400-seater venue.
After staging five days of exhilarating singles action, the ASB ShowGlassCourt was converted overnight to the latest WSF-approved International Competition Width Doubles Court, the width of which is 8,420mm – more than six and a half feet wider than a singles court.
“In fact, the matter of moving the two side walls on the ASB ShowGlassCourt is very simple and takes just a few minutes,” explained ASB’s Event Coordinator Peter Schmidl (see video).
“The more intricate part is laying the additional flooring and extending the court lines – but the whole transformation is still completed within four hours.”
Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014 Sports Equipment Manager Mark Honeybunn was taken aback at the ease of the conversion: “I managed to be present at the time the transition took place, as I was very curious how the moveable wall of the glass court will work.
“I was astonished how safe, smooth and quick the glasswalls were moved. It’s a great piece of technology.”
Whilst the conversion of the glass-walled court is carried out manually, the transformation of the conventional solid-walled courts is achieved simply with the touch of a button – as shown in the following video:
The Commonwealth Games squash action attracted a total audience of around 35,000, providing a phenomenal atmosphere in the glass court arena for the entire 11 days which overwhelmed athletes, officials and squash enthusiasts – and an estimated one million dollars in ticket revenue must have helped the IOC to take notice of squash’s growing commercial credentials.
“It was just so good to come out to such an amazing response – it’s more like a finals crowd than a first round,” said England’s singles gold medallist Nick Matthew after his opening match. “I’ve had a long career and played in some amazing venues, but never experienced a first round crowd like that.”
Silver medallist James Willstrop added: “The atmosphere here was unbelievable. It doesn’t come any better than this!”
But many insiders agreed that the doubles competition was the arguably the biggest revelation. Presented for the first time on a wider court and introducing a lower tin of 13 inches, the format sparkled – from both players’ and spectators’ points of view.
“I have been surprised at how exciting the Doubles has been,” said BBC TV commentator Sue Wright, winner of one of England’s first Commonwealth Games squash gold medals in 1998. “The lower tin and extra court width has helped turn it into an integral part of the squash format.”
Australia’s former world champion and world number one Rachael Grinham, gold medallist in the Mixed Doubles, said: “Doubles? I’m really loving it!”
The World Squash Federation has led considerable research into the refinement of the doubles squash format since the game was first presented at the Commonwealth Games in 1998.
“The WSF intention was to make changes so that doubles would be short, sharp, vibrant entertainment, and all the positive response to the doubles events at the Commonwealth Games indicate that we succeeded in that,” said WSF President N Ramachandran. “We hope that this will lead to a stimulus for more pairs events to be held around the world in the future.”
It was in 1980 that ASB introduced the first squash court with moveable walls – a concept which uniquely allows for adaptability, either via the conversion of singles courts to a doubles courts, or by converting a row of courts into a single large all-purpose sports hall.
ASB moveable court walls are now sited in 37 countries in six continents – and the company now estimates major expansion of the concept over the next two years.
“Our main goal is to provide the maximum technical features to our courts to give the best possibilities of promoting squash,” said ASB CEO Christof Babinsky. “Moveable walls provide absolute flexibility for court owners – and will become even more invaluable in the event of an increasing worldwide interest in doubles squash.
“We are in permanent interchange of ideas with federations, media, promoters, and squash fans, alike.”
Pictures courtesy of WSF by STEVE LINE (www.squashpics.com)