University squash courts set to open to the public as ESR invest in new projects
NICE to report some good news on the court-building front, with squash centres planned to open in Cambridge and London linked to universities.
The project in Cambridge will provide a five-court facility within the new Cambridge University Sports Centre. The club will be open to students and the public in October this year.
The timing is an important boost for the game in the region with the five-court Cambridge Squash Club understood to be experiencing problems.
Members have fought hard to keep the club going, and former world number one James Willstrop played an exhibition there recently, but the signs of survival are not encouraging, according to a well-placed source.
This weekend sees the big Varsity showdown as Cambridge meet Oxford at the RAC Club in Pall Mall, London. The women’s match starts at 1.30pm and the men’s follows at 4pm. Last year Cambridge won the women’s match 5-0 and the men’s 3-2, with Scottish international Harry Leitch powering his way to the deciding victory.
An ESR report stated: “The location is of strategic importance for our sport. It is situated in the Olympic Borough, which is void of squash provision, and is in close proximity to the Canary Wharf estate, which has long been identified as a viable opportunity for our sport.
“Outline plans at this stage involve a six-court squash facility with good ancillary facilities and viewing. It is hoped that the facility could be completed by late 2015.”
ESR are also investing in the following projects.
Coventry City Council: A three-court refurbishment scheme has been agreed with the Council at St. Augustines Sports Centre which has recently been transferred to a local community trust to operate.
Birmingham City Council: A six-court refurbishment scheme has been completed at Wyndley Leisure Centre, Sutton Coldfield. The courts are now in fantastic condition and will complement squash provision at the other leisure centres in the city, which have all now been refurbished in the last couple of years following ESR support.
Halo Leisure: ESR are in discussions with Halo Leisure, who operate Hereford Leisure Centre regarding much-needed investment in the squash provision as part of a £3m major renovation programme.
Aylesbury Grammar School: ESR will support a £250k refurbishment of the squash facilities with a £12k grant that will help secure the future of the provision at the school.
The school has an illustrious history in National School Championships and this refurbishment, which has largely been funded by a lottery grant and local organisations, will also see the move to the facilities being opened up to the community.
Pay and play access will be available and, under the tutelage of the coach, Darren Withey, there are plans to establish a new club.
University of Derby: The University has approved plans to realise squash provision on its main campus as part of major investment in sport and leisure.
It is a real positive that the University has backed the sport and recognised the growth of the student development programme which has involved PSL members Duffield Squash Club, whose side includes world champion Nick Matthew and England number one Laura Massaro. The development will involve two courts and is planned to be completed early in 2015.
Pictures from the Squash Mad archive and Cambridge University Squash Club