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Squash "Big Game":

Pinnacle of Spectator Squash in the USA

Squash Is Where the Action Is
2005 SquashTalk.com

by Ron Beck

Beck is the editor of SquashTalk and spent five years on the WPSA pro tour)

Tomorrow in Cambridge
MA, the two top college men’s teams in the USA face off: Harvard vs Trinity.
1200 spectators or more are expected.
Last week in Dayton, the top pro players in the world played off in front
of approximately 125 fans. The week before that in Chicago, the top players
also competed in a large metropolitan downtown. About 250 fans attended.
In March, the biggest pro squash event in the USA happens in New York
City. About 650 can be expected to attend the finals. Pay attention PSA,
WISPA and WSF: in the USA, College squash is vibrant and exciting action,
and attracts new fans.


College squash garners media attention, too. Boston’s largest newspaper,
The Boston Globe, devoted a main column on
page one of section C to the Harvard – Trinity match, in yesterday’s edition.
The Harvard Crimson (the college daily newspaper) last spring termed Trinity
Squash "The Evil Empire". That grabbed some attention on Boston,
where "The Evil Empire" is usually reserved for the hated New
York Yankees.

In Hartford, Trinity
Squash is big news. Hartford is a major city with no major sports team.
Hartford embraces the UCONN Basketball team, that plays 30 miles from
Hartford, but they also embrace Trinity Squash. A regular sports writer
for the Hartford Courant, the main newspaper
in Connecticut, covers most of Trinity Squash’s men’s and women’s matches.
Sports Illustrated covered Trinity last fall,
when they set the college sports record for consecutive intercollegiate


Trinity is a small college in the middle of Hartford Connecticut.
Harvard is the most famous University in the world in a large, cosmopolitan
City. Harvard Squash had been a dominant force in College Squash for about
40 years, only displaced from time to time by Princeton or Yale. The story
of how Trinity came to assemble a squash team of international character,
that displayed excellence of play, teamwork, good sportsmanship, and featured
good students is one that continues to fascinate the squash community,
the Connecticut press, and polarizes college fans (there are those who
object to the recruiting of international students representing South
Africa, England, Zimbabwe, India, Colombia and other places by Trinity.)


Harvard recruited Satinder Bajwa, of Jansher Khan management and Superseries
Finals fame, to figure out how to beat Trinity again. After 40 years at
the top, the fall from number one was a hard pill for generations of Harvard
squashers and boosters to swallow.

Bajwa, in his own
unique and quiet style, went about the project. He told the Boston Globe
this week, "We’ve managed to raise our level, and Trinity is the
reason for that. I enjoy competing against them. In the past few years
we’ve been chasing Trinity, now I feel like we’ve caught up."

For his part, Assaiante
is clearly nervous about the contest. The Harvard top three, featuring
Sid Suchde who’s on the Indian National team, Ilan Oren, who’s on the
Israeli National team, and Will Broadbent, in the USA top ten, is formidable.
Paul Assaiante, as usual plays it close to the vest. "I just hope
it’s a good match after all this publicity." he said.

Meanwhile there’s a buzz in Boston. Everyone in the squash community seems
to know about the big match. If they’re not planning or able to come,
they’re talking about it. And you can be sure the Harvard partisans will
be on hand.

College squash is … excellent, world class squash, drama, tension, emotion,
excitement, team energy … and it gets a big audience that comes away
having gotten its money’s worth. Squash community – take notice!

A typical crowd
at the Harvard University Barnaby Squash Center