Saturday, July 20, 2024

Speed thrills on World Squash Day

Amazing events showcase squash across the globe
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad Correspondent

Cam Pilley gives it his best on the radar gun
Cam Pilley gives it his best shot on the radar gun

World Squash Day 2014 was a resounding success, with thousands of players taking part in challenging and creative events all over the planet.

wykesIn a trans-Atlantic speed challenge, Australia’s world No.22 Cameron Pilley attempted to improve on his world record of 176mph during a competition at the US Open in Philadelphia.

This time his feared forehand was slightly off his best as he registered 163mph in a head-to-head with former world record holder John White, head coach at Drexel University, which hosted the Delaware Investments US Open Championships. White’s best was 154mph. The old boomer must be slowing down.

England’s world No.14 Sarah-Jane Perry recorded 144mph, which sets a benchmark for future women’s challenges.

In England, Team Winchester squad member Steve Wykes (above) outgunned the top pros by recording an impressive 168mph during a World Squash Day doubles tournament at The Mote Squash Club in Maidstone, Kent. His hard-hitting partner Robbie Downer failed to trouble the scorers much above 150mph.

Top seeds in the doubles, they fell in the semi-finals to Bromley  boys Lewis Ryall and James McMeckan. That marathon encounter gave the winners little time to rest before the final, where they narrowly lost another long match to Joe Magor (Canterbury) and Ted Jeal (Mote transfer target). 

jamesmarkTwo English squash enthusiasts, James Roberts and Mark Davey (right), completed a magnificent marathon by playing seven matches at seven local clubs in the space of seven hours, finishing up at their home club of Lichfield in Staffordshire.

In Australia, squash players gathered for a rally outside Parliament House in Canberra before dispersing to open-day events at clubs across the city.

In Sydney, Aaron Willoughby’s East Coast Academy attracted 60 new members to the Willoughby Squash Club after a busy day of activities.

In Poland and India, new media was embraced as players were encouraged to upload “squash selfies” and Tweet the reasons why they loved squash so much.

The biggest social enterprise took place in Delhi, India, where a group of volunteers staged an open day for orphans and homeless children to enjoy a day of squash.


Indian children enjoy their time on court in New Delhi

Across the globe, reports emerged of numerous fun events to promote the game, including fancy dress doubles, thousands of free lessons for juniors, and coaches cycling from club to club to offer free classes.

Numerous clubs simply opened their doors to hold open days to show that squash is one of the best sports for all-round fitness, with an hour of activity on the court burning around 900 calories.

World Squash Day founder Alan Thatcher was delighted with the response. He said: “I have been inundated with reports of clubs and federations staging some amazing events to promote the sport.

“Squash is on a real high at the moment, with some fantastic presentation of the sport in the Commonwealth Games, Pan-American Games and the Asian Games.

“It was wonderful for World Squash Day to be featured so prominently during one of the world’s leading tournaments, the US Open, and we are already looking at some novel ideas for next year.”

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