Anniversary party for the WSA Tour at the British and US Opens
The Women’s Squash Association (WSA) is marking the 30th anniversary of its formation this week with celebrations at the British Open in May and the US Open later in the year.
Founded in February 1984 at the Belfast Boat Club in Ireland, the originally-named Women’s Squash Players’ Association (WSPA) boasted 23 members and elected New Zealander Robyn Blackwood as its Chairwoman and Australia’s Rae Anderson as Secretary/Treasurer.
The first WSPA World Ranking list was topped by New Zealand’s Susan Devoy – who went on to achieve an unprecedented 105 months as the women’s world number one.
The Association later changed its name to the Women’s International Squash Players’ Association (WISPA), before being re-launched as the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) in 2012.
Over the past 30 years, the Association has attracted some 5,000 players from all corners of the globe who have competed in more than 1,200 events on the international Tour.
Twelve players – from six countries (New Zealand, Australia, England, USA, Netherlands and Malaysia) – have topped the world rankings over the three decades, with reigning world number one Nicol David having held the title unopposed since August 2006!
The 29th WSA World Championship will be held in David’s home city of Penang next month, when the 30-year-old Malaysian is set to extend her remarkable record to eight titles.
David revealed on Facebook: “The best moment of my career was meeting the history makers of women’s squash all together at the Australian Open in 2012, my coach for 11 years, Liz Irving, the amazing Heather McKay, Vicki Cardwell and Sarah Fitz-Gerald – all world champions for Australia.”
Founder Chairwoman Robyn Blackwood was delighted to hear of the Association’s latest milestone: “Thirty years ago there was a groundswell of support from players for a professional association and importantly, a world ranking system for women squash players that was current,” said the former world number three.
“It was a buoyant and exciting time in squash with significant numbers of professional players and circuits around the world to compete on. The establishment of WSPA was the next logical step. We established the world rankings, and the associated systems, very shortly after our inaugural meeting at the Belfast Boat Club.
“It is great to hear that WSA is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Congratulations to all those who have been a part of its success.”
New WSA President Kasey Brown added: “All professional women squash players should be proud of the growth that the Association has achieved over the past three decades and we are indebted to players like Robyn and Rae for their foresight back in the 1980s.
“WSA boasts some of the fittest athletes on the planet, competing day in day out on a flourishing WSA World Tour which is active on all continents – from traditional squash nations like England, Australia and the USA, to newer territories like Mexico, China and Malaysia,” added the world number 13 from Australia.
“I am delighted to be part of a new WSA board which is determined to grow the Tour over the coming years, led by the WSA vision to Inspire; Empower; and Entertain: Inspire future female generations to embrace squash as a professional sport; Empower girls and women on and off the court; and Entertain the world.”
Picture from Squash Mad archive and social media