Accredited US Squash competitions will open for registration in the coming weeks in coordination with the community and local facilities. The phased resumption of competitive play prioritizes safety and fairness, and will continue to evolve with changes in local, state and federal guidelines and based on feedback from the squash community.
Where allowed by government and facility regulations, US Squash will accredit play in local and regional tournaments with the results posting to player profiles and impacting their US Squash rating. Facilities and regions may also run accredited league play, including box leagues, team leagues and ladders, all of which will also impact ratings.
Player rankings – which have been frozen since March 11, 2020 – will be released on October 7, 2020 based off player ratings. In the case of junior players, ratings-based rankings will replace the prior system of junior tournament ranking points on an interim basis.
Current Phase: 2
All accredited competition will adhere to government regulations and US Squash guidelines for safety protocols and risk mitigation as described below. Furthermore, US Squash recognizes that each area of the country and specific facilities have varied rules and protocols, and families have different risk factors and willingness to engage in competition. For these reasons, the competitive opportunities and structure are designed to provide flexibility for different levels of engagement and participation.
The initial phase of return to accredited competition involves two types of events: local/regional tournaments and local league play. US Squash will work closely with facilities, districts, and tournament directors to achieve a calendar that is as full of opportunities as possible within appropriate safety considerations and adherence to governmental guidelines.
- Registration for any given tournament will be limited geographically. These limits may be imposed at the facility, local, or regional level; each tournament will indicate the allowed geographic area from which players may register.
- Limitations will align with the competition state’s travel advisories and restricted states lists and required quarantine policies.
- US Squash expects to begin posting tournaments for registration to the calendar beginning the week of October 5.
Leagues and Ladders:
- Players may also compete in accredited leagues in their area, including organized team leagues and self-scheduled box leagues and ladders.
- Leagues may be established either intra- or inter-facility and provide the flexibility to work within varied schedules and with limited exposure to additional groups of people. Squash community members interested in league play in their area are encouraged to reach out to their local facilities and districts to advocate for the establishment of accredited leagues in coordination with US Squash.
- While many tournaments and leagues will run based on traditional age divisions, US Squash encourages competitions that mix genders and/or different ages – including between junior and adult players – during this period.
- Mixed competition further improves the accuracy of the rating system, increases the competition within divisions and broadens the experiences of players.
Junior player rankings will be unfrozen as of October 7, 2020, at which time player rankings will be determined by player rating instead of tournament ranking points. During this time when national competition is not possible, ratings provide the fairest method to measure progress and improvement while allowing each player to engage in accredited competition to the extent that is most appropriate for their personal situation. Ratings also seamlessly integrate competition between players of different genders and ages, and between juniors and adults.
During this interim period, US Squash encourages players to focus on positive competitive experiences and development as a player and individual on court. Ratings are specifically designed to be a long-term measure of a player’s level of play and are therefore not reflective only of a player’s recent performances.
- Ratings-based rankings will be viewable on the US Squash website at the national and state level. District and Facility-based rankings will also be available.
- More information about recent enhancements to the US Squash rating algorithm is available here. For questions regarding how ratings work, please see here.
To ensure inclusion in the rankings, players must be a current US Squash member and have passed the age-based referee exam for the age division in which they will be ranked, and player profiles should also be updated with the most recent home address information and date of birth. Membership verification, referee certifications and address updates can all be done through a player’s Club Locker profile, reached by logging in to their account on the US Squash website. Players are also asked to verify their high school graduation year, available on the “demographics” tab when editing their player profile.
The safety of all individuals at accredited competition remains the top priority of US Squash. All accredited competitions – whether league or tournament play – may only take place in facilities that abide by all governmental guidelines as well as US Squash policies for return-to-competition.
US Squash has released minimum risk-mitigation guidelines for which facilities must positively affirm compliance, including enhanced air filtration and surface sanitization requirements. Facilities around the country are currently collaborating with US Squash to confirm that the appropriate measures have been put in place at their facility.
US Squash is continually reviewing safety regulations and operational protocols based on the current available information. Changes will likely be prompted by future potential availability of reliable rapid testing, vaccine approval and distribution, further research on risk mitigation, changes to governmental guidelines, and overall changes in the course of the pandemic. The input of the community as a whole is welcome in this area.
Mask use on court for players, and off court for all spectators, will be required during all accredited competition. This policy is informed in part by a unanimous recommendation by the US Squash Medical Advisory and Sports Science Committee. While the wearing of masks does not fully eliminate risk, their use on court by both (or all four in doubles) competitors likely limits the potential dosage of viral particles emitted into a facility during play, and also provides a level of protection to others. Mask use during competition is required already under the guidelines produced by many states for indoor recreation; requiring mask use for US Squash accredited play creates a level field of competition to all players nationally.
- Operational Protocols:
- Each player will be allowed only one accompanying spectator, whether that is a parent, coach, or other guardian.
- Players will not be allowed to enter facilities until immediately before their match times and are required to leave facilities after completion of their match or requisite officiating duties.
- Only the winner from the previous match will referee the following match. Social distancing protocols should be observed at all times.
- Competition Structure:
- Many tournaments will be limited to a single day of competition.
- The total number of competitors in a given tournament or league will be restricted based on facility size, court availability and state gathering limits – specific caps per event will be noted on tournament registration pages.
Further details and the most current information on tournament procedures and facility guidelines will be posted on the US Squash website in the coming week.
During the return to any form of competition, it is incumbent on the entire community – players, facilities, administrators, coaches, and families – to work cooperatively to ensure the best and safest possible experience. While it’s been said many times before, the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges that we must face through creative solutions, patience, and understanding. There almost certainly will be changes of course along the path before prior models of competition are possible again, and some of those models may be forever altered.
US Squash remains deeply grateful to the all members of the squash community for their commitment to the sport, and for their input throughout the process of planning for a return to play and competition. Stay informed with the most recent updates and information on the COVID-19 and return-to-play section of the US Squash website here.
The development of return-to-competition plans has been informed by multiple avenues of community engagement. Six open focus-group virtual sessions drawing hundreds of parents were held with the broader community in July and August. Committees including the Junior Squash Advisory Panel (JSAP), the Teaching Professional Advisory Council (TPAC) and the newly formed Medical Advisory and Sport Science Committee have also provided in-depth input. US Squash staff have been aggregating plans based on the feedback received and is currently reviewing proposals with the COVID-19 Working Group comprising representatives from facilities, players, community programs, teaching and medical professionals, District leaders, and US Squash staff and board members.