With the prospect of the U.S. confidently emerging from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the pathway back to active lives including squash is becoming increasingly clear. Central to the sport’s comeback is the nearly complete Arlen Specter US Squash Center, ready to welcome the local community and squash players eager to experience the facility for the first time.
US Squash anticipates the Specter Center – which has been made possible in partnership with Drexel University and is located in the heart of Drexel’s campus and Philadelphia’s burgeoning University City – will begin hosting local tournaments and allowing community access as early as April, with a gradual ramping up of activity in June into the summer. Memberships are planned to go on sale in June, bringing together enthusiasts from every walk of life to enjoy the sport.
Expected to anchor the sport’s comeback and the Specter Center’s opening season will be the U.S. Open Squash Championships in its traditional early October date, launching a full year of grand opening activities for the 2021-2022 season.
“A National Center has been a long dream for the sport of squash. Creating the Specter Center within the vast, majestic Drexel Armory Building located two blocks from Philadelphia’s 30th Station has been an opportunity beyond what we could have imagined,” said Ned Edwards, Executive Director of the Specter Center. “This has been a huge undertaking and has only been possible with an amazing cross-section of supporters and enduring partnerships with Drexel University, SquashSmarts and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We can’t wait to see you all at the Specter Center and to share it with many brand-new members to our wonderful squash community.”
Throughout the coming year, the Specter Center will host a series of opening events to bring in constituents from the entire squash community and showcase the potential of the facility to individuals and partner organizations. US Squash will continue to treat the safety of players, visitors and staff as paramount throughout the opening of the Specter Center – the 75,000 square foot space provides ample room to not overcrowd the space – though as always, plans may adjust as the circumstances of the pandemic change.
The Way Forward to National Level Competition
The 2021-2022 national championships calendar is expected to be posted in draft form in the coming weeks and could potentially include fall 2021 national events in order to avoid missing yet another year in the history books.
As announced earlier this month, US Squash will follow a three-stage process from April through September 2021 for the return to national junior competition and tournament points-based junior rankings. Stage 1, beginning April 12, incudes “preparation for play”, with Stage 2 starting six weeks after this “pre-season” on May 28. Point-earning tournaments will resume in Stage 2. Stage 3, beginning on September 8, will mark the resumption of points-based rankings.
Over the coming weeks and months, US Squash will release more detailed information on plans to support the return to play and competition at the national level and in conjunction with the opening of the Specter Center – including everything from community access to competitions, memberships and more special events.
“The world has experienced previously unimaginable difficulties in these modern times, our sport and community members included,” said Kevin Klipstein, President & CEO of US Squash. “More than a year after the organization’s decision to suspend accredited play and national championships, we are so inspired by people’s spirit and resilience, and are really looking forward to not only welcoming people back to the courts, but also welcoming them to their center, the Specter Center. We’re so fortunate to have this home now, which we are confident will begin to transform the way the game is accessed, presented, and experienced.”