As the 2013-2014 doubles season draws to a close, we are pleased to report on the recent surge in squash doubles participation. Below you’ll find a summary of the last few years in the areas of Championships, Accreditation, Rankings, Grassroots Development, College Doubles, Pro Doubles, New Courts, and ways to give back to the game.
The Director of Squash Doubles position was created with a generous donation in 2011 from Victor Elmaleh. Victor’s gift was a continuation of his support for The Elmaleh Project which is US Squash’s umbrella campaign to support doubles in the U.S. To match that gift and secure the position for a minimum of five years, the US Squash Doubles Fund was created.
Support from the doubles community is vital to fostering the game’s growth and providing more opportunities for all to play. Gifts to the Doubles Fund are restricted to doubles development, to improve the quality of the squash doubles programs, expand their reach, and increase the opportunities for young people from under-served communities to benefit from the life-changing opportunities that squash doubles can provide.
State of the Game: Squash Doubles
US Squash has seen consistent growth in the Doubles game in the U.S. and Canada in the last three years. US Squash now has eight annual U.S. Squash Doubles Championships supported by the US Squash office. Doubles players are joining US Squash in order to play in National Championships throughout the season, and athletic clubs with doubles courts are all US Squash Member Clubs. Accreditation fees will be introduced in 2014, and all doubles events will be listed on the tournament webpage, along with online results after each weekend, resulting in an automated rankings system that will soon allow for doubles ratings as well.
Doubles players, eager to promote the game, are now focused on increasing participation among juniors, as well as the urban, intercollegiate and the “under thirty” constituents, with even more events and opportunities to play doubles. Intercollegiate doubles continues to grow with the addition of women’s and mixed divisions at the thirtieth annual intercollegiate doubles championships. Professional Doubles also continues to thrive with a restructured men’s tour and a women’s tour that continues to add events annually.
With all this growth in doubles, there is also an uptick in court construction. New clubs and cities are building their first courts, along with plans for second and third courts at select venues in the northeast.
The U.S. Squash Doubles Championships are the highest profile doubles events each season. There is significant growth in many of these events, most notably with the Intercollegiate Championships, which are now run by US Squash. Collegiate entrants have more than quadrupled with forty-five teams in 2012.
The Century Doubles has continued to expand with ninety-six teams participating in the 2014 event. As the event continues to grow, it will likely need to utilize courts outside of New York City in the near future. The National Doubles entry numbers often fluctuate based on location with highs in the 140-team range when in the northeast and lows in the eighty-team range when held outside the northeast. The event will remain on the east coast for the next two years with 2015 being hosted in Philadelphia and 2016 in Buffalo.
The National Junior Doubles has seen consistent growth of 25% from 2010 and now has more than 100 participants in boys, girls and mixed divisions annually. The Father-Son Doubles event has also seen 25% growth over the same time period and celebrated its tenth annual event this spring. The Mixed Doubles event is consistently contested by thirty to forty teams annually and will enjoy a new date on the fall calendar in 2014.
Participants at these Championships experienced enhanced support from US Squash with more staffers at the event and creation of branding for each event including event logo, draw display, programs, email updates and signage.
During the past three years, US Squash has added the U.S. Open Squash Doubles and Urban Squash Doubles Championships, as well as adding women’s and mixed divisions to the Intercollegiate Doubles. The U.S. Open Doubles is the first annual event for both the Professional Men’s and Women’s tours to be held on the same weekend at the same venue. The inaugural event was held at Wilmington Country Club which had hosted the Men’s U.S. Pro Doubles for fifteen years. The U.S. Open brings together the top men and women for this prestigious event annually and the 2014 event will again be held in the Wilmington/Philadelphia area at the heart of squash doubles in the United States and arguably the world.
In its first year, the Urban Doubles brought together twenty-four young participants from six NUSEA (National Urban Squash & Education Association) programs for a week of doubles-focused play in Denver, CO. The week culminated with a championship in which players from the Bronx-based CitySquash program swept the boys, girls and mixed divisions. In its second year, nine programs were represented and twelve are invited for the summer 2014 event.
The Intercollegiate Doubles has been held annually since 1988 and the inaugural event was held in 1950 and won by Williams College. The women’s and mixed were added in 2010 and have been well attended, demonstrating US Squash’s commitment to gender equality in all aspects of squash competition.
The World Doubles Championships have been hosted in North America since 1979. Starting in 2009, the now bi-annual event moved to a new format that requires partners to hold a passport from the same country. In 2013, New York City hosted the event with nineteen countries represented and ninety-five individuals who competed for medals in men’s, women’s and mixed divisions. Sanctioned by the WSF and included as an official World Squash Championship, the event offered prize money totaling $105, 000, and a mixed division was added for the first time with the new team format. US Squash honored Victor Elmaleh for all of his contributions prior to the 2013 finals with its most prestigious honor, the President’s Cup.
US Squash supports several doubles events financially each year and helps manage finances for some of the biggest squash events in North America. Three Squash Doubles Association (SDA) events, including our own North American Open Doubles and two competitions between U.S., Canada and Mexico, total over $400, 000 in financial support by US Squash. Providing online donations, accounting support, bill pay and design support from logos to websites, US Squash is able to relieve local committees from these duties.
MEMBERSHIP & ACCREDITATION
With an increase in doubles participation of approximately 35%, US Squash has experienced an increase in membership which translates into more than a $5, 000 annual increase in revenue for the organization.
New doubles leagues have started in Boston, Baltimore, Detroit and Los Angeles in the past four years. As doubles leagues continue to grow, now active in six different regions throughout the U.S., this 65% increase in doubles league participation earns US Squash roughly $3, 000 in additional membership fees. Tournament play has also continued to increase with more results now available online at www.ussquash.com/doubles. Four years ago, only the National Championships were available online. Now there are over fifty events per season available for viewing and results tracking in each player’s profile.
Rankings are currently calculated four times a year by the North American Doubles Ranking Committee. However, beginning in July 2014, the rankings will be calculated regularly on www.ussquash.com and also tracked in the player’s profile. Tournament directors will see a major change in the automation of draw creation and seeding using the US Squash online tournament software. A doubles handicap system, similar to golf, is also coming in the near future where four players of varying ability can walk on court and have a competitive match.
One of US Squash’s main goals is to grow the game of doubles, and that starts with Junior, Urban, and Under-30 age groups so that our game continues to thrive for decades to come. The Urban Doubles Championship, started in 2012, included a week of doubles instruction from top SDA pros and finished with a boys, girls and mixed doubles championship. The event in 2013 had twenty-four students from nine urban programs competing for the titles.
Junior Doubles is also thriving with 25% growth in the past four years at the U.S. Junior Squash Doubles Championships. While this shows progress, more junior doubles events are needed throughout the year to lead up to the Nationals so that juniors are playing doubles more consistently each season. The doubles game has been shown to improve one’s singles game. Amanda Sobhy, a junior singles and doubles champion and three-time intercollegiate singles champion, won the World Women’s Doubles Championship in 2013.
The under-thirty age group has shown the most growth in the past four years. In 2010 only 19% of doubles tournament participants were under the age of thirty, and this figure grew to 30% for the 2012-13 season. All National Championships now offer a discounted entry fee to encourage younger players to compete.
Intercollegiate Doubles was first played in the 1950’s. Treddy Ketchum revived it in 1988 and the men have now been playing for the Butcher/Ball Cup for over twenty-five years. In 2011 a women’s event was added as well as a mixed event in the same calendar year. It is now run by US Squash in association with the College Squash Association (CSA).
The Intercollegiate Doubles has over forty teams annually competing in three divisions, up from only eight teams in the men’s division just a few years ago. 2014 will mark the twenty-sixth anniversary and will have at least two events leading up to the championships to help get the players on court and prepare for the pinnacle event.
Professional doubles continues to grow in North America for both the men’s and women’s tours. US Squash was enlisted in 2012 to manage the SDA Pro Tour. Since then the tour matched its largest annual prize money this past season and it is set to shatter its previous prize money record this coming season. The women’s tour (WDSA) was started in 2007 and has eight events annually with more than thirty members competing.
The SDA Pro Tour transitioned from the ISDA in 2012 with help from an active doubles board consisting of players, promoters and supporters of the professional doubles game. Gary Waite and James Hewitt started the ISDA tour in 2000 where they successfully took pro doubles in the U.S. and Canada to a level never before seen. US Squash currently coordinates the tour, handling membership, rankings, tournament support and web development. The SDA Board created a foundation to support the growth of the doubles game.
The U.S. Open Squash Doubles Championship was introduced in 2012 in Wilmington, DE, with Men’s and Women’s Open divisions. The event offered prize money parity based on the size of the divisions. The North American Open Doubles has been held in Greenwich, CT, since 1932 and continues annually with a professional Men’s Doubles event. US Squash handles the finances, design, program and event support. The event has annually provided approximately $20, 000 each year to the North American Open/Greenwich Open Scholarship Fund which provides selected urban squash participants with college scholarship funding. More than $100, 000 in scholarships have been provided to date.
The growth of squash doubles can also be traced to the addition of new courts at existing facilities or additional courts at current facilities. The most exciting addition of doubles courts is at the University of Virginia where two doubles courts were added to a new squash facility with a total of nine singles courts. Richmond, VA, also added a doubles court, further contributing to the growth of doubles south of the Mason-Dixon line. The Naval Academy also hopes to break ground on a court, which will be the only doubles court in the Washington, D.C., area.
Two glass doubles courts have been built in the last few years, one being a glass sidewall in Stamford, CT, at Chelsea Piers and the second is a four-wall glass tour court in Toronto at the National Squash Academy. Dunlop has developed a white doubles ball for these courts which will be used at more locations in the future. The four-wall glass court is the world’s first and is sure to be a major step toward a portable doubles court.
Rhode Island is in the planning stages of building its first court in Newport. Cincinnati could see two new courts, bringing its total to three and one potentially located in an urban squash facility. MetroSquash, the urban program, in Chicago is planning to build a doubles court in their new facility as well. Several clubs in the New York City area are in design planning stages for a first or second court to be added to their squash facilities. There are even two separate clubs in the U.S. with two courts that have long-term plans for adding a third. US Squash provides clubs and groups with materials about the growth of doubles to help make the case for the sport.
With a full-time staff member supporting squash doubles, and the support of the entire US Squash office, doubles is now on track to set short and long term goals for growth.
|Championships||1 year GOALS||3 year GOALS|
|32 players from 12 programs participating in the Championships||Urban Doubles players win the U.S. Junior Doubles Championships and participating in Intercollegiate and National Doubles Championships|
|Intercollegiate Doubles||8 women’s, 16 mixed and 32 men’s teams competing for the Championship||Have multiple Intercollegiate Doubles events leading up to the Championship. Potential integration into Collegiate Team Matches|
|Century Doubles||Over 100 teams participating||Have the need for 5-7 courts to run event of 150 teams|
|National Doubles||Over 150 teams participating||To have 200 teams participating with at least 25% women. Event would have to be held in the northeast to support that many entrants|
|Multiple Junior Doubles events leading up to the Championship||Start Interscholastic Doubles events that may lead to a new fall sport of Squash Doubles|
|Father-Son Doubles||Add Mother-Daughter event same weekend in New York City||Make the weekend a Family Doubles weekend with Father-Son, Mother-Daughter, Siblings, Father-Daughter, Husband-Wife, etc.|
|Have up to 50 teams participating||Over 100 teams participating|
|Rankings||Automated Doubles Rankings||Add rankings for junior, intercollegiate, mixed and century divisions|
|Rating||Develop Doubles Ratings||Develop Doubles Handicap System|
|U.S. Open Doubles||Add mixed event as well as a masters (40+) event||Event played on a glass court|
|North American Open Doubles||Add women’s event||Add mixed event, equal prize money for all divisions|
|Court Construction||185 Courts Worldwide||200 Courts Worldwide|
Remember, gifts to the Doubles Fund are 100% tax-deductible, and are restricted to doubles development to improve the quality of the squash doubles programs and expand their reach. Please give generously.