The Collegian
Monday, April 15, 2024

Squash tournament returns to campus

Thirty-two players from across the globe will compete at the 2010 North American Open Professional Squash Championship on Feb. 21-27, hosted by the University of Richmond in the Millhiser Gymnasium.

Rank and prize money amounting to $93,750 are on the line for the competitors in this year's event, said David Hetherington, president of Virginia Squash.

The event is one of three major professional squash events held in the United States, and the seventh tournament hosted in Richmond, Va.

"The University of Richmond agreed to host the event for five years," Hetherington said. "For two years the event was staged in the student commons. This year it will be staged in the Millhiser Gym."

Squash is generally played on a four-wall court next to another one, but the best way to play the game in front of an audience is to have a glass stadium court, Hetherington said.

The rectangular court, owned by the squash court manufacturer McWil Courtwall, works like a two-way mirror, Hetherington said. The audience can see the players, but the players can still see the ball.

Hetherington said he hoped the tournament would introduce people to the sport and help promote squash throughout the Commonwealth, because only two of the competitors are American.

"It's an incredibly international event," he said. "Of the top 15 players in the world, four are Egyptian, four are British and there are players from Pakistan, Israel, Norway, France. Last year even 'Al Jazeera' was calling for news feeds."

Misha Gill, president of the University of Richmond's squash club, said he hoped to see a large crowd at the tournament.

"When it was in the Pier there was tons of viewership," Gill said. "But the players were getting distracted and complained. So they don't do it there anymore. The tournament doesn't actually fill up much until the final day when the big matches are on."

Tickets are free to all University of Richmond students and general admission seating begins at $10 per ticket. All proceeds will go to a new urban squash youth club called Squash Rocks, Hetherington said.

"It's an after-school program for at-risk youth," Gill said. "It's a mentorship program that teaches them life skills. We're bringing that to campus with a pilot program that will get started this spring."

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The first two rounds of the tournament will be held Sunday through Wednesday. The quarterfinals and semifinals are scheduled for Thursday and Friday, and the final is set for Saturday.

Contact reporter Kate MacDonnell at kate.macdonnell@richmond.edu

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