Squash must learn lessons from tennis if it’s to get the Australian Open back on the calendar
By CASSIE THOMAS – Squash Mad Columnist
HAVING only been to Wimbledon once, and that was when I was 17 and prepared to sleep on the pavement, I presumed that I would just enjoy watching the Grand Slam tennis on the TV.
So when I moved to Melbourne three years ago I found the Australian Open practically on my doorstep. Thinking it was a similar situation to Wimbledon regarding tickets I continued to enjoy watching it on the TV.
It was only when my parents visited in January 2013 that I looked into the ticket situation as they had never been to a major tennis tournament.
My pessimism was misplaced. A quick click on the website and three tickets later we are there. So for the last two years my parents and I have had a thoroughly enjoyable day at the Australian Open tennis.
It is known as the fan-friendly Grand Slam and I can see why. The tickets are very reasonably priced. For a ground pass, which entitles you to view all the courts except the two main arenas (Rod Laver & Hisense) it is $34.00 which is about 17 English pounds.
The whole Melbourne Park area is very easy to get round with plenty of attractions for the fans besides the tennis.
There are plenty of good value food and drink outlets and lots of water stations. You might think mentioning water stations is a little odd but for the last two years on the days we have attended the temperature has reached 42 and 44 degrees centigrade (107 & 111 Fahrenheit) respectively.
In fact this year, on the day we were there, is when they stopped play due to the extreme heat policy. So those water stations come in very handy!
After spending a day at the tennis you come away envious that squash doesn’t have the same profile. We are all aware of the main reasons for this but wouldn’t it be great if most squash playing countries had their own major open event.
This obviously includes Australia. Unfortunately at the moment the Australian Open is missing from the calendar and for a proud squash nation this is a crying shame.
Having a major tournament with the world’s top players can inspire the next generation and for a country like Australia trying to get back to the top of the squash ladder this can only be a positive step.
We all know it takes a lot to hold a major event and the main thing of course is finding a main sponsor and then getting that sponsor to commit for a minimum of three years to keep the event established.
There are many iconic venues in cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. Imagine a court in front of the Sydney Opera House or in Federation Square in Melbourne.
This would create huge interest from both squash fans and the general passing public and would turn it into an event as well as a tournament.
These are only suggestions for an ideal world but let’s hope in the future that the Australian Open can be the tournament that this country deep in squash history deserves.