Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Outdoor squash given fresh momentum

The concept of outdoor squash has received heavyweight support thanks to two significant recent developments in the industry. 

Outdoor squash courts such as those at Squash Para Todos in El Salvador, the Maspeth steel court in New York, public courts in Iran, the TPoint courts in central Tel Aviv and the concepts developed by Lee Witham and Melior Sports with Mike Harris have been hailed as vehicles to make squash more visible and accessible to the public and revive grassroots participation. 

Now, world-leading court manufacturers ASB have joined the open-air squash revolution by adding a permanent outdoor court to its product portfolio. 

The ASB OutdoorSquashCourt is designed for placement in any outdoor setting with a flat area of roughly 12x10m. It is made with a steel frame, walls made of specially designed HPL board for a proper rebound effect and customised sports floor tiles with resistant paint for line markings. ASB says its durability means it requires minimal maintenance.

The court can be fitted with lights to allow night-time play and has an optional roof to allow it to be used in all weather. At all times it is weather-resistant – even in a hurricane. It can also be easily dismantled and relocated. 

ASB’s International Affairs Manager Peter Schmidl said: “Our mission is not only to produce the best squash courts in the industry but also to promote our beloved squash. Our new squash court provides cutting-edge technology that allows more people to access squash and recruit new players due to its outdoor accessibility. 

“Bringing squash outdoors and making it more accessible and visible will give the sport a better image and more attention.” 

Jordan Jefferies, chair of the PSA Foundation’s Outdoor Squash Committee, told Squash Mad: “The standout message from this development with ASB is that one of the largest court builders in the world has added a commercial product for outdoor squash to their list of products.

“More and more reputable sources are behind outdoor squash and are backing the concept.” 

Simultaneous to ASB’s announcement was the PSA Foundation’s publication of the results of a survey into outdoor squash. 

The survey elicited 1,012 responses from 65 countries, with 83% saying opportunities to play squash outdoors in public settings would help grow membership levels at squash clubs. 289 respondents highlighted challenges to the concept including bad weather and cost. 

An in-depth summary of the survey can be downloaded here. 

Jefferies said: “We knew there was some excitement for outdoor squash, but the survey results really validated all our collective efforts to grow the concept. We hope it will lead to more offerings and opportunities around outdoor squash.” 

One example supports the optimism that outdoor courts could help to grow grassroots participation. 

Solihull Arden Club in the West Midlands erected a Melior Sports mini squash court at the town’s Touchwood Shopping Centre during the Commonwealth Games. For five days, they introduced squash to children and parents who were passing by. That public awareness-raising resulted in 30 new members at the club. 

The outdoor squash concept has been embraced at the top end of the sport. Mohamed ElShorbagy, Joelle King, Joshna Chinappa and Saurav Ghosal are just some of the high-profile visitors to love the open-air steel court at Maspeth in Queens, New York. 

England’s Nathan Lake, the world No.37, is also a regular visitor. He said: “Outdoor squash is a revelation. It gets the game out of private clubs and into the public eye. Above all it provides a great environment to play squash.” 

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