USSRA'S KLIPSTEIN and task force chair MUSTO explain new vision
In what hopefully what will be the sign of things to come in the USA squash community, US Squash has taken a well-conceived long term view in the just announced "restructuring" of the US "National" Squash Championships.
The USSRA's Kevin Klipstein and Task Force Chair John Musto were anxious to explain to SquashTalk what was behind their press release, and we spent a productive hour discussing their new plans by conference call yesterday.
After a few minutes of discussion - it became clear why they were so anxious to get on the phone with me. They have put a new plan in place that could be a big win for US squash in both the short and long term, and what they have put in place is hardly done justice by the brief press release put out Friday afternoon. (Although after listening to them for an hour, I still can't say I am totally clear on the details of their plan - most likely because it is still fluid and "evolving" on a daily basis.)
The key result of Musto's task force is the creation of three events out of one; which (a) Potentially will make each event more successful that the predecessor format; (b) Will provide active players with more "National" scale events to play in; (c) Will provide more geographical distribution of the events — in principal the recommendation encourages the three events to happen on the East, Midwest, and West coasts in any given year; and (d) Will give the events more international profile and standing.
ONE: TWO EVENTS FOR 06-07
TWO: SPLITTING AGE GROUPS INTO TWO EVENTS FOR 07-08
The second phase is where the plan gets more difficult to explain. In the second year, the age groups will be split into two events, creating a "more open" open age groups, and a new "closed age groups."
This will result in a fundamentally new event, most probably in late fall, in which the USA age groups events will be turned into an international Open age group event, along the model of the traditional British Open - open to a worldwide audience and marketed as such. This will take place in conjunction with the "US Open."
This newly formulated "US Open" is potentially the real visionary-event of the three. The idea sprang from the view that it was necessary to separate "closed age groups" and "open age groups" competition. What was happening over time, especially on the women's side, was that teaching pros coming into the USA after playing careers abroad, we in some cases dominating age group draws, discouraging Americans from entering. US Open age group championships is an exciting concept, offering up the possibility of an event every bit as attractive as the British Open to Masters Players. According to Klipstein, they have already initiated discussions internationally around the concept of coordinating the major pro event schedules to make this third event follow and more predictable date. The task force envisions the future potential for a loose linking together of various international Masters events into some semblence of a Mini Masters Tour.
The US Open for next fall is already well along in the planning phases, so that event will be left alone for the upcoming season. The USSRA intends to expand and change the event at that juncture to including the Open Masters concept, esentially twinning the event with the British Open.
Meanwhile, the "Closed Aged Groups," which will continue to take place alongside the S L Green and Women's National Closed, is expected to be a smaller but important event, crowning the US citizen's champion in each age category, and hopefully drawing a larger domestic subscription with the separation of non-citizen's into the US Open event.
Several key benefits of separating the current nationals into the US skill levels and the two US age groups are;
The main unknowns at this point are;
Some of the other possibilities that may come out of this new arrangement are exciting to Musto and Klipstein.
The thought process behind the new setup is that it will lead to a series of regional skill-level championships, building up to the National event each season. And the USSRA is hoping to structure the skill levels (now the "USSRA championships") in such a way to attract signficant collegiate-level participation.
The next step is finding the venues for next year's events. There is an open bidding process that the USSRA has put in place - trying to recapture the spirit of the seventies and eighties when cities lined up to try to gain the bid to host the US nationals.
The USSRA is encouraging bids at the present time, and wouldn't comment on possible venues, though according to them, several cities have already expressed interest.
All materials © 1999-2005. Communicate with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.