From the CEO: Sensational Season; Promising Prospects

As our fiscal year, and 2023-2024 season, come to a close, I am excited to look back and report out on what was truly a historic year for our sport.

The clear highlight was October’s news about squash’s inclusion in the LA28 Olympic Games. An effort decades in the making, I am proud of the critical role US Squash played in this outcome as part of the collaborative bid with WSF and the PSA. Additionally, Olympic inclusion likely does not happen without the sport’s consistent growth and development in the U.S. over the last two decades, resulting in our athletes having a viable shot at medaling for Team USA in four years. But perhaps what moved the needle most towards inclusion for 2028 more than any other past bid was the physical manifestation of a sport that is thriving, well run and future-looking: the Arlen Specter US Squash Center. We are so proud of our best-in-class national home.

This year at the Specter Center was also highlighted by the world’s largest individual tournament, the U.S. Junior Open, followed by the 20th anniversary U.S. High School Team Championships with 1,421 players, the world’s largest squash tournament. Preceding both of these major events was the U.S. Open, which showcases the world’s best athletes in an arena unlike any other in the world. There is nowhere else in the world tens of thousands of passionate squash players, from middle school players in the Philadelphia Public League to the world’s greatest pros, play side-by-side.

Increasing women’s participation remains a focus and the results of the Women’s Committee’s hard work are pulling through. The major team event, the Howe Cup, had near record participation, a new way of hosting the Women’s Masters Championships showed promise, and overall participation in women’s national events increased 50% from last year, setting an all-time high. Next up is more female coaches to bring more girls into the sport!

Squash Doubles remains strong at the club and national levels. This year’s full schedule of six National Doubles Championships was punctuated by the Philadelphia community and the Cynwyd Club specifically hosting an outstanding U.S. Squash Doubles Championships. The Junior and Intercollegiate Doubles Championships had record participation which bodes very well for the future of the sport and the health of the SDA Tour which completed its 12 season this year.

Also in Philadelphia was the 2nd full season of the first-ever urban public school team league, which has sparked interest in cities such as Houston, Los Angeles and Boston. An in-school physical education squash program is being finalized by US Squash for rollout next season.

Sportsmanship and Character received proper attention this season too. In response to guidance from the Sportsmanship & Character Committee, new materials provide examples of conduct violations and outline expectations for behavior in the areas of safety, respect and fair play. QR codes posted at tournaments provide easy access to conduct reporting and encourage the community to also report exemplary behavior. US Squash is also operating in coordination with the professional tour and college squash in order to provide and support a consistent message to the community.

For the first time in history, the Team USA women swept the podium in the individual championships and earned Gold in the team championships at the quadrennial Pan American Games. Olivia Weaver reached #4 in the world and won her first national title, Amanda Sobhy inspired on her way back from her second torn achilles, and two-time national champion Olivia Clyne retired as one of the most decorated athletes in U.S. squash history. On the men’s side, Timmy Brownell cracked the world’s top-30 and won his second S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Championship.

At the junior level, a record number of U.S. players reached the quarterfinals of the British Junior Open and the round of 16 at last summer’s World Juniors, where the girls team returned to the podium. Houston will host the World Junior Championships this summer which, for the first time, includes both the girls and the boys team and individual divisions.

The close collaboration between US Squash and CSA continued as the CSA celebrated 100 years of college squash while ushering in a new National Championships format for the top teams. Congratulations to the University of Pennsylvania men’s team and Trinity College women’s team for their respective national championships.

The Olympic Games create a unique opportunity to leverage broader awareness of squash into the efficient expansion of our infrastructure and increase in participation. The growth and development of the sport in the U.S. is only limited by the community’s willingness to invest in it.  For these reasons, the U.S. Squash Foundation was launched in May.

If you believe, as I do, that squash has had a major impact on who you are as a person, then I strongly encourage you to consider prioritizing the U.S. Squash Foundation in your philanthropy. US Squash has a proven track record of providing an excellent return on modest investments, one which expands and enhances opportunities for you, your family, and your squash community.

Finally, the community also suffered losses this past season, several of whom were particularly close to the association and each had a major impact on the sport during their lives: President’s Cup recipients Eric Fast and Dave Talbott, past US Squash Board Chairs Lenny Bernheimer and Alan Fox, and Hall of Famer Ann Wetzel.

As we look ahead towards a bright future for the sport we stand on their shoulders, and follow their example, and work hard every day to advance US Squash’s mission.

Thank you very much,

Kevin Klipstein
President & CEO
US Squash