US Squash continually evaluates the junior structure to identify areas for improvement. An essential part of this process is the input of the community regarding potential adjustments. US Squash requests that players and families review several of the proposed changes listed below, and provide feedback as part of a public comment period.
Policies are developed through work with committees made up of different constituent groups, including families and teaching professionals. At the conclusion of the public comment period, all feedback will be carefully reviewed and policy decisions will be adjusted as appropriate. Final policy changes will be communicated later this month.
Please submit any feedback on the proposed changes by 5:00pm EDT on Thursday, May 11 using this this online feedback forum.
1. Age Cutoff for National Championships
Current policy: The age and ranking eligibility deadline for the Junior Nationals, Silver, and Bronze Championships changes annually based on the Junior Nationals entry deadline.
Proposal: The age eligibility date will be set as February 15, and remain as such for future years. Players must be age-eligible for the division in which they enter as of that date. The ranking eligibility date, however, will remain linked to the entry deadline for the Junior Nationals.
Rationale: Establishing a fixed age eligibility date ensures that all players know their age qualification status for end-of-season championships over the course of their junior careers, eliminating the uncertainty surrounding an annually shifting date.
February 15 is the earliest date President’s Day falls in the calendar—that holiday weekend is generally the final JCT competition during the season. By setting this date as the age eligibility cutoff, players who are generally age-eligible to compete in elite JCT competition throughout the regular season are eligible to compete in nationals.
Other potential dates were also considered, including a fall date (in which a player would qualify for an entire season of competition through nationals), as well as February 1 or March 1. On balance, each had limiting factors that led to the determination of February 15 as the most appropriate choice. Setting a fall date, or January 1, where all age-eligible players qualify for the entire season and nationals would be a dramatic change from the current system, and is not in line with other qualification dates in squash both in the U.S. and internationally. Because of the year-round nature of competition, setting a single date for the whole season would be well out of line with age qualification dates for other Team USA competitions, such as the World Juniors, British Junior Open, and the Canadian-American “Battle of the Border”.
2. U11 Divisions at JCTs and Nationals
Current Policy: Under-11 divisions at JCTs and Junior Nationals are restricted to the 32 top-ranked players who register.
Proposal: Under-11 divisions at JCTs and Junior Nationals will be restricted to the 16 top-ranked players who register. The Junior Silver Nationals Under-11 division would include players ranked 17 and below.
Rationale: While the level of play in the Under-11 division has continued to improve, there are still fewer players in this age division committing to a full national travel schedule for elite competitions. This results in JCTs and Nationals Under-11 draws either not achieving full participation, or players being able to gain large ranking points simply by gaining entrance into an undersubscribed division—thereby unnaturally buoying the ranking of those players through the season. Reducing the draw sizes from 32 players to 16 players in the U11 age group still provides elite players with development opportunities while reducing the extensive travel requirements and necessary time commitment for other Under-11 players.
3. Ranking Eligibility for Junior Nationals, Silvers, and Bronze Championships
Current Policy: Players may play ‘up’ in older age divisions if their ranking points in their age division qualify them for the older division after conversion at 50% of their value in the younger division.
Proposal: For the Silver and Bronze Nationals, players may not play up in an older age division unless they have an established active ranking in that older age division. Additionally, for the Silver and Bronze Nationals, players who are unranked may not compete in their current age division if their computed or age-converted ranking average would place them at a higher ranking than the number 32 or 64-ranked player in that age group’s ranking (for Silver and Bronze Nationals, respectively).
Rationale: End-of-season championship competition is designed for players who have been competing actively throughout the season. By placing requirements on participation, the Silver and Bronze Nationals will be available to the most players possible who have earned the right to play in these special events by virtue of in-season play in a particular division.
4. U.S. Junior Open Date Change
Background: The U.S. Junior Open has traditionally been held in mid-December, roughly at the beginning of school winter holiday breaks.
Proposal: The U.S. Junior Open will move to a late June date in the summer of 2018.
Rationale: There are benefits to both the traditional December date or a proposed June date. In soliciting input from families and teaching professionals, on balance a shift to the summer date is recommended. Benefits include:
- Reduced conflicts around school exam dates
- Decreased potential for weather-related travel conflicts and delays
- Removed date proximity to the British Junior Open
- Positioning of the tournament as a kick-off to the international summer tournament calendar, for both U.S. and International athletes
- Increased space in the winter calendar for the re-establishment of a fifth JCT, a concept which is broadly supported by community feedback
5. Number of JCT Events
Background: During the 2016-2017 season, four JCT tournaments were hosted: October, November, January, and February.
Proposal: During the 2017-2018 season, five JCT tournaments will be hosted: October, November, December, January, and February.
Rationale: Reducing the number of JCT tournaments, combined with ranking point changes, placed significant pressure on top players to compete in all four JCTs. Increasing the number of JCT tournaments to five will allow players and families more flexibility to choose in which JCTs they will compete, while providing adequate opportunities for national team selection and nationals ranking qualification.
Please submit any feedback on the proposed changes by 5:00pm EST on Thursday, May 11 using this online feedback forum.