Have a go at…squash

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Ever tried your hand at squash? If not, I put the challenge to you to add it to your list of things to do in 2015.

Squash is easy, fun, social, can be played all year around, rain or shine and it gives your body and mind a great workout. Plus if you’re not normally a person who has played a racquet sport, you won’t have too far to run to retrieve your ball with those four walls around you.

On the flip side, if you’re quite handy with a racquet, then squash will definitely provide you with the ongoing challenge you may seek and is equally rewarding.  The beauty of squash, is that anyone can play, it’s a great family sport, you can opt to play as a social or competitive  player, you’ll develop some really good friendships and as Forbes Magazine (2010)stated: “It’s the healthiest sport in the world”…so I think you’ll end up looking and feeling pretty good too.

The World Squash Federation reports that a player can burn up to 1500 calories per hour in a competitive, fun environment. This means that in half an hour you could burn off the equivalent of two hamburgers (not that they condone eating hamburgers).

Everyone is busy in today’s world and extremely time poor, which is why squash also appeals.  It allows people to achieve the life  balance they strive for, providing an enjoyable quick workout, with  maximum return for  time invested.  Plus with child obesity on the rise and other metabolic disorders, it’s a great choice of sport all round.

How to have a go:
Club Squash – Club nights are the best way to try out the sport either on your own or with a friend.

You’ll usually get the chance to try it for free, two or three times and then you can decide whether to join as a member or in some instances, see if you can pay as you play.  There’s always a friendly face not far away to give you a helping hand.

All you need is some non-marking shoes, comfortable clothes and most clubs have a few spare racquets if you don’t have one yourself.

If you join, you will get 24 hour access to the club and can play whenever you choose.

The clubs offer a variety of activities which may also include social leagues, business house, fun tournaments and other social events throughout the year.

Clubs like to see new members so check out the Squash Waikato website for contact details or give me a call at Sport Waikato to register your interest for the next “Have a go day”. There are 25 affiliated clubs around the Waikato so there should be a club handy to where you live.

Interclub – Squash Waikato run a winter and summer interclub competition mid week, in the evening, with most clubs entering teams.

Many members enjoy this immensely as it’s very social, it creates a team aspect to an individual’s sport and it’s a great way to meet new players and get some real good games with players at your own level. Plus the nibbles and drinks in the clubrooms afterwards always add to the night.

Junior Squash – Most clubs have a social junior club night with some providing coaching programmes, largely suited to kids aged eight years and over.  Younger kids can get involved depending on what the club offers.

For the juniors who want to try the game a bit more competitive y, there is The Werder’ Racquets 1 Day Series.  This has been a huge hit with 150 juniors partaking in this series last year. A strong focus is on fun and fair play.

Juniors who show talent are placed in an appropriate development squad by Squash Waikato who have high calibre coaches like Glen Wilson and Jo Williams involved.

They have excelled in their time on the international circuit and now give back to the sport by assisting with coaching these players.

For more information on where to have a go, visit:
Squash Waikato Website: www.squashwaikato.co.nz
Squash NZ website: www.squashnz.co.nz
Sport Waikato website: www.sportwaikato.org.nz

Waikato squash champions
Overall squash is strong in the Waikato, since being established in 1965 and serving the Waikato community well for the past half century.  The Waikato Gold Jubilee Open Tournament is being hosted by the Hamilton Tennis and Squash Club on 1-3 May 2015. This is a great opportunity to pop down and watch some exciting squash over the course of the weekend.  It will feature some up-and-coming young professionals progressing through to a more international level of competition.

Over the last 50 years Waikato has produced some real champions with Ross Norman best remembered for winning the World Open in 1986. He had been ranked no.2 in the world for some time before this.  Also Leilani Joyce  (now Rorani) whose highlights include winning  two British Open titles and four New Zealand Championship titles.  Her ultimate goal of achieving a World number 1 ranking came to fruition in 2000.

Here we are in the year 2015 and Waikato is still churning out the champions. We boast a number of top performers representing our region on both the national and international circuit.  Joelle King (Cambridge), Kylie Lindsay (Matamata), Anika Jackson (Hamilton), Trevor Coulter (Hamilton), Nadine Cull (Taumarunui) and  Casey Owen (Thames) were among those in 2014. They range from age 13–80 which paints a pretty clear picture of how squash is definitely a game for any age or gender.

In fact Trevor Coulter the World Masters Champion of the 80 plus age group didn’t start playing until age 41.  As  he says, “it’s never too late to start.”

Glenn Carson (Hamilton) excels in the squash arena but as an international referee. Chosen to be an official at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 was a highlight and he is working toward his World Squash Federation Referee qualification.  Squash in Waikato provides a wonderful bunch of role models for our juniors and members to aspire to.

“If you haven’t already tried squash, now’s the time to give it a go,” says Glenda. “Try something new in 2015 that will lift your energy levels, give you a superb workout in a short space of time and challenge you at your own level in a fun social environment.  You’ll have fun with others, who like you, enjoy being fit and healthy too.”

About Glenda Knox

Glenda Knox is  the SportsForce Squash development officer.  Squash Waikato has partnered with Sport Waikato to employ Glenda in a Sports Force Development role (20 hours a week). Glenda is responsible for providing opportunities, resources and tools to clubs and schools to get more people playing and upskilled at grass roots level.  “It’s all about ensuring a strong and capable delivery of squash so that new players can get the best experience possible,” says Glenda.

This role has also enabled the Waikato region to embrace the Kiwi Squash Small Nix (age 5 – 8) and Big Nix (age 9-12) programme, a world class resource which is now rolling out into selected schools/clubs who meet the necessary criteria.  Small Nix develops strong fundamental skills in children who often don’t get much opportunity to develop these at a young age. Big Nix starts developing more squash-specific skills and provides free coaching for students at a squash club for an entire term.

“The aim is to have clubs continuing these programmes after school to ensure consistency.   Our clubs, schools and Sport Waikato energisers are excited about working with the programme and keen to see the results.”

About squash

Season: March – October
Number of Affiliated Clubs: 25
Number of courts: 67
Number of club members (Excluding casual players): 2068
Percentage of graded players (J – A grade): 70%
Percentage of males /females: 60/40
Percentage of junior boys/junior girls: 63/37
Total senior players: 1547
Total junior players: 521

Interesting info
• Recent changes to the way sports are selected for Olympic inclusion isgood news for squash. Squash is recognised by the IOC and Inside the Games (an important Olympic website) is conducting a poll on which sports should be added. Here is the link to it so please vote for SQUASH. www.insidethegames.biz/polls/92-which-sport-should-be-added-to-the-olympic-programme-at-tokyo-2020
• Big-hitting Aussie Cameron Pilley, broke his own world speed record smashing a squash ball at an amazing 176 miles per hour (that’s 283km/h)
• The game was formerly called squash racquets, a reference to the “squashable” soft ball used in the game.
• Kiwi legend Susan Devoy holds the record for being the longest standing number one in the World from 1984 to 1993.
• The first nuclear reactor was built by scientists on a squash court at the University of Chicago in 1942

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