Two years ago, US Squash took the step to pause accredited competition and postpone all U.S. Championships due to the accelerating COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, players and families have engaged in the return-to-competition process established by US Squash, and there has been a steady increase in participation as the community has re-engaged in tournament play. Junior rankings have also begun to stabilize after the transition back to the points-based rankings and the completion of a significant portion of the winter season.
All policies surrounding the return to full competition and rankings were driven by prioritizing player and community safety, adherence to local regulations, and allowing ample opportunity for players to acclimate into the tournament calendar again while also re-establishing ranking positions in a fair manner. Among other changes, an increased number of Gold tournaments were held over the summer of 2021 and the point where the rankings divisor begins to increase was extended from 8 to 12.
Enough data now exists to evaluate the outcomes of these strategies for the transitional 2021-2022 season. Most players have returned to prior levels of tournament participation, and junior ranking volatility has decreased as an outgrowth of more tournament results. While the rankings have become relatively accurate, the increased availability of tournaments—combined with a higher divisor number and the lack of tournament points rolling off player ranking averages until later in 2022—has highlighted the need to ensure player mobility between ranking/tournament levels based on their level of performance.
In response, US Squash is announcing several adjustments to tournament and ranking policies, with more enhancements currently under consideration that will be announced in the coming months. Additionally, US Squash is announcing significant updates to our COVID-19 risk-mitigation protocols due to the most recently available information and changes in the current status of the pandemic in the U.S.
This update includes:
- Gold Tournament division size changes
- Planned timing for updates to rankings calculations
- Summer Gold Tournament updates and reminders
- Updates to COVID-19 protocols
Effective immediately, all Gold tournaments, regardless of geographic location, will have the following division sizes: –
- U13 and U19 divisions: 24 player maximum
- U15 and U17 divisions: 32 player maximum
- U11 divisions: 16 player maximum
This adjustment will address player mobility and ensure that those achieving good results at one level of play will qualify to play in the higher level. Additionally, this will streamline opportunity for players regardless of their geographical location and size of the local squash playing community.
US Squash is currently reviewing the ranking calculation with the objective of continuing to ensure that rankings accurately reflect player performance as fairly as possible. US Squash is conducting an ongoing analysis of player rankings and will communicate any changes by May 31, 2022, prior to the start of the summer season.
Summer Gold Tournaments
US Squash apologizes for the delay in publishing the Gold tournament schedule for the summer. Due to the complications presented by COVID-19 restrictions, the process of establishing venues for these tournaments has taken longer than normal. We appreciate your patience and will publish this calendar as soon as possible.
Families should note that the Summer Gold policies for 2022 will revert to those which existed in the summer of 2019. Reminders of these policies are below:
- Points from a maximum of two gold tournaments may apply to a player’s ranking in any given age division held from May 27, 2022 through Labor Day weekend
- If a player participates in more than two gold tournaments in any given age group, their top two point-earning events will automatically be used
- Summer gold tournaments not counting towards a player’s ranking average will not be included in that player’s overall tournament exposure count
- If a player incurs a 0-point ranking penalty due to a second late withdrawal or mid-tournament default, that tournament will count on the player’s record even if they have played in more than two summer gold tournaments.
US Squash thanks the junior community for its understanding and compliance with our risk-mitigations protocols—and the changes to them over time as new information has become available—since the return to play and competition began.
In the last several weeks, the U.S. has thankfully seen a steady decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Many states and localities have lifted certain mandates including those relating to mask wearing. After consultation with the US Squash Medical Advisory Committee, and after a review of current facility protocols across the country, US Squash is announcing the lifting of all COVID-19 protocols for accredited tournament play, including national testing, masking and vaccination requirements. The squash community and facilities are still asked to maintain all reasonable measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and all tournaments will still be required to follow any governmental or facility-specific regulations for the host sites.
All COVID-19 protocol adjustments are subject to future change as new information becomes available and the status of the pandemic continues to evolve. US Squash thanks all members of the junior squash community for their collaboration over the past two years, and we look forward to seeing you on court soon.