EXCLUSIVE by ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)
The ASB GlassFloor used on court during the CIB Egyptian Open received glowing praise from world champion Ali Farag, who won his third tournament title at The Pyramids.
Farag, who beat Paul Coll in Sunday’s final, said: “I absolutely love it. The first time I played on it, if you had blindfolded me and I stepped on court and ran, I wouldn’t be able to tell you whether it was a glass floor or wooden floor.
“But the best thing about the glass floor is that it’s always steady. There are no grooves in it, there are no ups and downs from the sun, like the wooden floor if put under the sun.
“Sometimes it can crack or it can be deformed somehow in some shape or form, but the glass floor is very steady and I love that. So yes, for me I prefer the glass floor to be honest.”
Women’s world champion Nour El Sherbini is also a fan. She told Squash Mad: “I love the new court. It’s a step forward to implement technology more into our sport. The floor is soft and smooth and easily cleaned. I wish it’s the same court in all tournaments.
The PSA has approved the use of the ASB GlassFloor at all major Egyptian events which are played on the CIB-owned ASB ShowGlassCourt this season.
The ASB GlassFloor features LED lighting to mark the service box and service line, while the floor’s ability to absorb sweat during June’s CIB PSA World Tour Finals – where it made its debut on the tour – resulted in fewer stoppages due to court cleaning.
It was used for the first time this season during the CIB Egyptian Open from the quarter-finals onwards, and will also be used at the CIB PSA World Tour Finals this season. Additional events are also in the pipeline.
🎙 "That's lovely! That's beautiful!"
Great variation from @paulcollsquash, who looks to fight back against World No.1 Ali Farag in the CIB Egyptian Open final!
— PSA World Tour (@PSAWorldTour) September 25, 2022
PSA Chief Operating Officer Lee Beachill said: “The ASB GlassFloor is the next step in the evolution of squash courts and we’re pleased to be using it at multiple events during the 2022-23 season.
“The reduction in the use of court cleaners will also result in less disruption and time taken in between points, which will improve the flow of the matches.”
Peter Schmidl, responsible for International Affairs at ASB, was pleased with the response from players in Cairo, and also responded to a query about the effect of sand blowing into the court from the surrounding desert.
He said: “I think the GlassFloor worked very well (as it worked well at the World Tour Finals) and what I have heard from the players, they are very happy with it, as they see a lot of advantages.
“In terms of your question regarding the sand blowing in the desert, which is a natural thing, I’d like to say that natural phenomena like sun, rain and sand are issues we always will have to deal with at outdoor events.
“As the GlassFloor can take these influences far better and will not get destroyed by the permanent treatment of sun, rain and sand, I’d like to highlight this as the first big advantage over a normal (wooden) floor.
“Especially, the cleaning and maintenance to get the sand off the court is much easier with the GlassFloor, as you are able to use either a brush or vacuum cleaner and a damped/wet cloth.
“To brush or vacuum clean a wooden floor will be possible, but you will not get the sand 100% out of the court. But to use a damped/wet cloth you can only do this on the GlassFloor, as you would smear the sand into the wood and it will get worse and the wood will get non-playable on the longer term.
“When the sun is shining on the different types of floor, you have two effects:
“The wooden floor will dry out and get brittle and damaged after a short while. The GlassFloor uses the heat of the sun to get warm (wooden floor will not get warm) and the temperature stays for some time in the glass, even if the sun is gone.
“The additional advantage of a warm glass surface is that the sweat will evaporate very quickly, which eliminates extensive and often mopping to take the sweat off the floor.
“The result is that the players are more comfortable and the game does not have as many stoppages. This is also the reason why we are actually testing to warm up the floor artificially to have the same effect indoors (without the sun) and that we are working on special airflow systems to blow air just over the whole floor to support/strengthen the process of evaporation even more.”
Many people ask about the difference between a glass floor and the traditional “sprung” wood surface.
Peter pointed me to the ASB website, which had the following explanation: “ASB MultiSports and the ASB LumiFlex are designed with the athlete in mind.
“When we set out to design the ASB GlassFloor, we realised that the elasticity and grip could be freely selected with our system. Therefore, we did not approach the question of what is possible, but what is best for the actual end user, the athlete.
“The floor we developed provides shock absorption and elasticity at the highest level of what is allowed by the EN standard which is recognised world-wide. This provides a friendly surface for the players’ joints that also has a very good rebound value for sports like basketball thanks to the properties displayed by glass.
“When choosing a high end-grip, it provides players with the best ability to stop instantly and with maximum control. At the same time, the risk of skin burn e.g. when players fall or dive for the ball is several times lower than on any other sports surface. In addition, the new floor performs 30% better than others under wet conditions due to its elevated ceramic dots.”
The website has positive testimonials from badminton, basketball, tennis, and paralympic basketball players.
In a PSA media release, Peter added: “PSA and ASB have a long record in improving the game with innovation. Now it is the GlassFloor, which can be used on both glass courts and standard courts, and CIB have contributed to this as they have had faith in the technology and the product.
“The ASB GlassFloor is used successfully in many other sports, like basketball, handball, tennis or in multi-sports venues, but as squash has some individual needs and a different specification, we needed a bit more time and patience.
“One thing is for sure, the journey is not over yet, there are more things to improve and innovate on both the glass courts and the standard courts to lift squash to another level.”
CIB Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Hussein Abaza, said: “We are very happy to be part of the evolution of the sport of squash. Our players who have dominated the sport exemplify dedication, hard work, and a ‘can do’ spirit, all of which are attributes that we as an institution rely on to stay ahead in our industry.
“As we always aspire to be ahead and embrace change, CIB is proud to have invested in the latest technology of squash courts. We would like to thank our friends at ASB for their amazing flexibility and flawless delivery. We would also like to thank our friend Karim Darwish, who helped us with the entire process and allowed us to use the glass floor at the World Tour Finals.
“Last but not least, we would like to thank our friends at the PSA, who have been very supportive over the years.”
More on the ASB GlassFloor:
ASB GlassFloor website
Pictures courtesy of PSA World Tour and ASB