Squash Tournaments Invite Novices and Experts to Play

 While the winter sports season may be over, the Cullman Squash Courts are anything but empty. While winter squash co-curriculars ended in March, the ongoing School Championship Squash Tournament and the first-ever Handicapped Tournament are set to continue through early May. The latter tournament is open to all students, regardless of ability. 

The seedings and the draw for the School Squash Championship will be made by U.S. Squash, the national governing body for squash. Players with higher ratings will have a higher seed. In squash, ratings are based on a scale of 0-7.5, with 7.5 being the best in the world. Participants increase ratings by winning matches. When asked if there was a difference between these tournament games and competition, Alex Du ’21, a Senior on the Varsity Squash team, said, “Intensity. Don’t get me wrong, I’m gonna push myself to play the best squash I can throughout these next couple of weeks. [Just like] when you’re already tired and down 2-1 against Taft, you really have to put it all on the line.”

In contrast, the Handicapped Tournament aims to level the playing field to give all competitors a chance to win. Head Coach Robert Burns ’08 will assign the less skilled player in the matchup a point advantage. The tournament provides students with the opportunity to try a new sport, have a shot at success, and play with friends. Noah Scarano ’24, a first-year squash player in the Handicapped Tournament said, “It was inclusive and fun. It was low stakes, but still competitive.”

Spectators are allowed at both tournaments, but numbers will be capped at 30, and strict COVID-19 protocols will be enforced. Taylor Clayton ’21, co-captain of the Varsity Squash team, said, “I hope we can have some spectators at the matches to help restore some sense of normalcy and give people an exciting Hotchkiss sporting event to go to.”

The self-scheduling format of the matches has caused challenges and delays in the tournaments. Players have had to reschedule matches because of workloads and extracurricular commitments and not everyone in the tournament has played their first-round matches yet. Coach Burns said, “Getting the first match out of the way is tough because you want to feel sharp and confident as a player. For some people, they’ll get it done regardless of course load, while other players might postpone the match because they didn’t get a good night’s sleep.” The winner of the School Championship Tournament will have their name engraved on one of the bronze plaques in the Cullman Squash Courts.

The School Squash Tournaments are student-driven competitions that hope to bring players of all skill levels together and attract new players to the game. The champions are anticipated to be announced in early May.