By Alan Thatcher
The Tournament of Champions in New York and the North American Open in Richmond continue among the world’s leading squash tournaments in 2011 as the game’s major events are rebranded as the PSA World Series.
Formerly known as the PSA Super Series, these blue-riband events have prize-funds upwards of $115,000. These championships will be instantly recognizable as the pinnacle of the sport and will be the main focus of the PSA’s global TV coverage and are all broadcast on the online squash channel Squash TV.
These events will form a series throughout the year that will produce eight players who will compete in the PSA World Series Finals.
In addition to the new event structure for 2011, the seeding system has also be revised. “We have been working hard over the past 12 months to raise the profile of the Tour,” said Professional Squash Association CEO Alex Gough. “We fully believe that these new changes will enhance the work already done.”
Heading the PSA World Tour from 2011 will be the PSA World Open, the Tour’s premier event with a minimum prize-fund of $275,000. This stand-alone event will receive extended live TV coverage and will be broadcast on www.psasquashtv.com. The winner will be crowned the PSA World Open Champion.
After the World Series, the next level of events will be PSA International 25, 35, 50, and 70, boasting prize-funds from $25,000 to $114,999. These events range from the larger club events and entry-point glass court events all the way through to higher-profile glass court events that may drive on to become World Series events.
PSA Challenger 5, 10, and 15 will have prize-funds from $5,000 to $24,999. These events will form the backbone of the Tour and are the entry-point for young or up-and-coming professionals progressing through to a more international level of competition.
PSA members voted at the recent AGM in Saudi Arabia to change the number of players who are seeded in event draws. Only one in four players will be seeded, instead of one in two as has been the current practice. This generates the prospect of some interesting showdowns between leading players much earlier in tournaments, with fewer seeds being protected and usually facing qualifiers or unseeded players in the first round draws.
“There are various reasons for this,” explained Gough. “It was felt that we over-protect players using the current system, and this often led to too many one-sided matches in the first round or two.
“The new system will create more opportunity for lower-ranked players to play similar ranked players in first round – therefore creating more opportunity for all players, which in turn leads to more motivation leading to an improved standard of squash over time.
“We have a strong enough series of events now to balance out tougher draws that players may have over a 12-month period.”
PSA’s SquashTV is the official live and video on-demand website of the Professional Squash Association.
Watch all the live action and highlights at www.psasquashtv.com