The Past and Future of Squash in Iceland
September 30, 2007, Special to Squashtalk Independent
News; © 2007 SquashTalk LLC
When Hilmar Gunnarsson was asked to provide a short history of Icelandic
squash, that was all he could offer as there is no long history of
squash on the North Atlantic island.
Squash Impresarios: Hilmar Gunnarsson and Hafsteinn Danielsson.
It is a story in which he is the central character as although there
were two courts a little before he built his centre with partner
Hafsteinn Danielsson, he was and remains the impetus in these parts.
As an exchange student in the seventies, Hilmar was in Ohio where
he played racquetball. ‘I had a dream of opening a racquetball
centre her’, he explained.
He and Hafsteinn, being sports teachers operating limited hours,
they needed more work. The two courts on the island were full, so
having kept the dream alive for several years, he roped in his partner.
They built two wooden courts. ‘They were chipboard so you
could put your fist through the walls!’ he recalls.
When another group built five on the other side of capital city
Reykjavik, they thought that their business was doomed. But a year
later the opposition were knocking on the door asking him to rent
They took it over, and now Veggsport Club is the pulse of Icelandic
squash. ‘Where does the heart beat, that’s the thing’.
It certainly does so at a healthy rate in their centre.
Fit and wiry, he actively plays and encourages. He takes the spinning
classes too. And keeps everybody and everything else on the move
Now Hilmar hopes that a two court centre planned for Akueyri on
the north of the island will go ahead as that will enable them to
move towards being a national association rather than a committee
in the eyes of the Icelandic Sports Council who require at least
three. ‘That would transform us as they would then give us
real financial support to add to their helpfulness now’ he
‘We are so small. Our weak spot is that we are too few players
and it is difficult for us to afford to travel to other countries
and get experience. We would also like to get a coach based here
for several months to teach us, but that is a money and sponsorship
matter too” he laments.
But if dogged pursuit of a dream counts for anything then Hilmar
and those around him will realise theirs. Squash will flourish in
the land of lava.
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Historical information PSA Men's Pro Event:
|1996||Jansher Khan||Ahmed Barada|
|1997||Peter Nicol||Jansher Khan|
|1998||Ahmed Barada||Martin Heath||15/5,15/17,15/13,13/15,15/13|
|1999||Peter Nicol||Ahmed Barada||15-9, 15-13, 15-11|
|2000||Peter Nicol||Ahmed Barada||15/14, 9/15, 15/3, 15/12|
Historical information PSA Women's Pro Event:
|1997||Sarah Fitz-Gerald||Michelle Martin|
|1998||Michelle Martin||Cassie Jackman|
|1999||Michelle Martin||Carol Owens||9-6, 9-0, 10-9|
|2000||Leilani Joyce||Carol Owens||8/10, 9/7, 9/5, 3/9, 9/5|
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