New draw sizes, and qualifiers are scrapped as PSA and WSF launch Challenger Tour
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad International Correspondent
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) today unveiled its new vision for professional squash which will see a new-look professional squash tour structure come into effect for the 2018-19 season onwards, while a WSF and PSA Satellite Tour has also been announced following the recent partnership agreement between the PSA and World Squash Federation (WSF).
The changes, which have been made in order to streamline the sport and increase earning potential for professional squash players, will see the current PSA World Tour rebranded into two individual circuits – comprising the PSA World Tour and PSA Challenger Tour – while qualification rounds will be scrapped and a series of new tournament tiers will be introduced across both circuits.
Under the new look, the PSA World Tour will continue to be home to all current top-tier events offering total prize money from $50,000 to $1,000,000 and above including the PSA World Championships and PSA World Tour Finals – while new tournament tiers in the form of World Tour Platinum, featuring 48-player draws, and World Tour Gold, World Tour Silver and World Tour Bronze, all of which are set to feature 24-player draws, will be introduced.
The 2018-19 PSA World Championships, which will be held in Chicago with a record $1 million prize fund up for grabs, will be the first World Championships to be staged under the new tour structure. Both draws will comprise 56 PSA entrants and one wildcard, with the other seven places taken up by winners from selected tournaments on the PSA Challenger Tour in a ‘Road to Chicago’ competition.
The PSA Challenger Tour will provide a platform for the world’s most exciting up-and-coming players to cut their teeth on the professional circuit against some of squash’s most experienced professionals, with tournaments offering prize money between $5,500 to $30,000.
Tournament tiers will consist of Challenger Tour 30, Challenger Tour 20, Challenger Tour 10 and Challenger Tour 5 tournaments, while a round-robin system will be trialed at selected Challenger Tour 5 tournaments throughout the 2018-19 season.
Following on from last year’s partnership agreement between the PSA and the World Squash Federation (WSF), the WSF and PSA Satellite Tour will be formed, which will integrate sanctioned World, Regional, National and Junior tournaments into the PSA World Rankings to create a pathway to the professional circuit for aspiring, up-and-coming players, strengthening the link between the global governing body for squash and the professional tour.
Comprising the WSF National Championships, Satellite Tournaments, World and Regional Junior Championships, National Junior Opens and National Junior Championships, the WSF and PSA Satellite Tour will run throughout each calendar year.
Players will earn PSA World Ranking points based on their results at tournaments on the PSA World Tour, PSA Challenger Tour and the WSF and PSA Satellite Tour.
“We are committed to promoting a thriving and sustainable professional squash circuit and feel that simplifying the tour structure and easing the transition from junior squash to professional squash will help us to achieve those aims,” said PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough.
“Since signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the WSF in August 2017, we have been hugely encouraged by the commitment from both sides to forge a strong working relationship and believe that partnering with the WSF in this manner will be a significant boost to the growth of the sport in the coming years.”
PSA Tour Director Hannah Ridgard-Mason said: “This is an exciting time for the Tour and we believe that these changes will enable us to further promote the game at the highest level while creating visibility for the PSA Challenger Tour, which will be the backbone of the new tour structure.
“We would like to thank our players and tournament promoters for their cooperation during this transition and look forward to working with them closely to ensure that the new tour structure will be a success.”
WSF President Jacques Fontaine said: “It was an important intention for me to bring WSF and PSA closer together when I became WSF President. As a unified sport we will progress even more strongly. Our MoU has achieved this aim. Now joining together, to allow players competing in our member nations’ national and junior championships to have the opportunity of ranking points, is an example showing the benefits of this unity.
“Our priorities as a sport are to offer leadership in education, accessibility and sustainability, and competition too – and our strong bond with PSA addresses the last pillar, especially. I am sure that the WSF and PSA Satellite Tour will go from strength to strength.”
The Professional Squash Association (PSA) is the global governing body responsible for the administration of both men’s and women’s professional squash around the world.
With over 850 registered players and more than 200 events taking place around the globe every year, the PSA World Tour – managed and run by the PSA – showcases the game of squash at its highest level in some of the world’s most unique and stunning locations.
Encapsulating all that is good about top flight professional squash and combining athleticism, skill, fitness, tenacity, power, drama and above all else, passion, the PSA World Tour is the pinnacle of world squash.
The World Squash Federation (WSF) is the global governing body for the sport of squash and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017.
The WSF is an International Federation of approaching 150 members and around 50,000 courts worldwide. There are also five Regional Federations under their auspices.
They are responsible for every facet of squash development and promotion, other than the professional tours which are overseen by the Professional Squash Association (PSA).
Pictures courtesy of PSA