Colourful concept takes shape as front wall turns into giant interactive screen
By ALAN THATCHER – Squash Mad Editor
The presentation of professional squash will move up a notch when an interactive front wall will feature in the forthcoming PSA World Championships at Chicago’s Union Station.
For a long time it has been every promoter’s dream to have a front wall that can act as a scoreboard and a screen for showing video reviews, advertising, news clips, action replays and announcements.
Now the technological achievements of Interactive Squash founder Markos Aristides Kern are being matched with the world’s first million-dollar squash tournament.
According to the PSA, the Interactive Squash front wall will also screen player stats, entertaining games and visual effects, plus sponsors’ content and branding on the playing surface of the all-glass ASB ShowGlassCourt.
After being unveiled at last year’s PSA World Series Finals in Dubai, the interactive front wall was a huge success at the Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games in October 2018, where squash was a showcase sport.
More than 25,000 people came to take a look in Buenos Aires, including officials from the IOC, who were reportedly very impressed. Local youngsters got the opportunity to play fun games on the showpiece court as squash left a lasting impression.
In December, Kern’s company Fun With Balls delivered a pitch at the ATP Global Tennis Innovation Summit, held during the ATP World Finals at London’s O2 Arena, as reported exclusively by Squash Mad.
FWB were among 120 start-ups who originally pitched their ideas and those entries were whittled down to a provisional list of 35. Ten of those companies were invited to make a presentation in a conference room at the InterContinental Hotel next to the O2.
FWB won first prize after revealing the “creative disruption” they have achieved in squash. They hardly mentioned tennis as the audience was enraptured by the phenomenal visual impact of their products.
Now the whole operation moves up several notches with the PSA announcing a partnership at the World Championships, presented by the Walter Family, inside Union Station’s Great Hall.
Held between February 23 and March 2, the PSA World Championships is the most prestigious tournament in professional squash and will this year offer a record $1 million prize purse, which will be split equally between the male and female athletes.
The ability to transfer the front wall into a giant interactive screen is an example of squash’s relentless drive for innovation. In partnership with leading court manufacturer ASB, the PSA and the World Squash Federation (WSF) have already introduced improved court colour schemes, floor cooling ducts and side door entry points in recent years to enhance the player and spectator experience.
The latest innovation is a selection of new glass floor options, which will be less affected by weather conditions, will require less maintenance, and will optimise the presentation of individual sponsors.
Furthermore, the introduction of new initiatives such as Video Review and Video Referee, and the integration of real-time heart-rate and tracking data into the live broadcast output, are prime examples of squash’s forward-thinking approach.
“The PSA World Championships is squash’s pinnacle tournament, and we are delighted to be involving Interactive Squash in Chicago as we look to make this a tournament to remember,” said PSA Chief Operating Officer Lee Beachill.
“We have enjoyed a strong relationship with Markos and his team over the past year. Their commitment to growth and innovation is a mindset which tallies perfectly with that of squash as a whole and we are looking forward to working with them and our court partner ASB further in Chicago.
“Squash has an unparalleled ability to showcase a city’s iconic locations and we believe that the World Championships will encapsulate that ability perfectly.”
Interactive Squash founder Kern, said: “The main aim of interactiveSQUASH was to help revolutionise the sport and to increase participation, in particular among the younger generation.
“Having interactiveSQUASH featured in the most prestigious tournament in professional squash, the first offering a record $1 million prize purse, is not only an outstanding achievement for us but is also the confirmation that this system is now a substantial part of a sport which has shown a real commitment to innovation over the past decade.
“We couldn’t be happier with the huge amount of positive feedback we receive every day from both court owners and players. We are also proud of how our relationship with PSA has been strengthened during the last years.
“We are convinced that, thanks to this support, we will be able to keep upgrading more courts and converting a great deal of new players into engaged fan and followers of this amazing game.”
Tickets for the PSA World Championships are priced from $30 and are available for purchase on Ticketmaster.
Interactive Squash website: www.interactivesquash.com
Pictures courtesy of PSA and Fun With Balls