Almost three months ago the coronavirus pandemic required both the suspension of squash programming and the temporary closure of facilities across the United States. It has certainly been a difficult time for many in the squash community, however, US Squash is facing this challenge and planning for a return to the squash courts. The organization is actively positioning itself to best serve our members who we know are eager to resume play.
During this time, US Squash has refocused efforts from event management to the US Squash website redesign. The website will feature new resources for users; Club Locker is being enhanced to better support online reservations, league and organized play from club to regional level; and US Squash programs are being adapted to cater to an expected shift from national to more local and regional competition. Most importantly, US Squash has been working closely with clubs and squash professionals across the country to support them with best practices and reopening guidelines which form the basis of a roadmap for a safe and responsible return to squash.
Return to Play
In order to help players get back on court and begin playing squash again, US Squash recommends that clubs follow a phased process for carefully restarting their squash programming – beginning with solo sessions on court, and slowly progressing to intraclub match play, interclub match play, regional competition, and finally national competition. Throughout the reopening process, facilities and players must follow local, state, and federal regulations.
The current set of US Squash guidelines for a return to play are available on our COVID resources page, including reopening guidelines, and player and facility resources.
In formulating these recommendations, US Squash has been working with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), other national governing bodies, and a multi-disciplinary group of US Squash committees spanning Medical, Junior Squash, and Teaching Professionals to determine the best path forward.
The road ahead is long and likely complicated, and US Squash’s main concern is resuming play across the country as quickly as possible in a safe and responsible manner.
The Junior Tournament Calendar and Rankings
In order to most effectively restart the junior national competition system, US Squash is announcing the cancellation of the remaining junior tournaments through Labor Day Weekend. While clearly an unfortunate decision to have to make, the organization believes this to be a prudent response to a difficult situation, for reasons including but not limited to:
- Regions of the country are currently, and will likely remain for the foreseeable future, in different stages of the reopening process, creating varying levels of player ability to practice and prepare for competition;
- Concerns about travel requirements for many competitors;
- Safety issues surrounding large gatherings and indoor sports competition;
- The need for facilities and tournament directors to work with local and state health authorities, their partners, and US Squash to develop safe practices for players and spectators during competition.
In the near term, US Squash is prioritizing options for regionally focused events which will limit the need for travel and will promote a safer competition for players and their families. More details on regional competitive options and their possible integration with junior rankings will be communicated over the coming months. A national junior calendar will then be created as conditions warrant and will be developed in concert with community input and our committees. To this end, we ask that all junior squash community families take the time to complete a survey to collect input on the resumption of competition.
National competition will resume only once all regions are playing and juniors have had time to prepare and regain fitness. Junior national rankings will remain frozen until national competition has restarted as the rankings are inextricably tied to participation in tournaments. How rankings will be restarted will be evaluated with US Squash committees and the broader community to ensure the process is as inclusive and fair as possible for all competitors.
There are many questions to be answered, and the uncertainty provided by this shutdown places the squash community in a difficult position. While all the answers are not available at the moment, US Squash is committed to a smooth restart and we will respond swiftly to new information and communicate details as they become known.
The 2020 National Championships remain postponed and options for rescheduling are being explored. Championships would be rescheduled in the fall at the earliest – competitors will be given adequate time for preparation should this occur.
Looking towards 2021, US Squash has set preliminary dates for several junior championships in the hope that national level competition will be able to resume. Those dates are listed below. Should the situation improve enough to be able to proceed with these championships, it is likely that the qualification criteria for these championships will vary from previous years, however, with the opening of the Arlen Specter US Squash Center the organization is hopeful that we will be able to host these competitions in a safe and responsible way by this time:
- National Inter-Scholastic Championships: January 29, 2021
- U.S. Middle School Championships: February 5, 2021
- U.S. High School Championships: February 19, 2021
- U.S. Junior Squash Championships: March 12, 2021
Recently, there have been positive signs as squash communities begin to open. Play has resumed in some capacity in many states and all players should ensure to adhere to the conditions outlined by their local authorities and clubs.
US Squash will continue to do everything in its power to move forward and resume play and competition safely, responsibly, and quickly.