By Kevin D. Klipstein, President & Chief Executive Officer
It’s easy to get lost in all the titles. U.S. Championships are all around us now. It wasn’t always the case, as many in their 40s, 50s and 60s still often lament in refrains such as, “I remember when there were 500 players at Nationals, with draws of 64 or more, everyone was there!”
As with most things, we often look back with nostalgia on the hardball days in the 70s and 80s, when times were simpler, weekends longer (and uninterrupted by cell phones, email and text), and “everyone” in the squash community gathered for a few major national championships—National Singles, National Doubles, National Juniors. Since 1984, the number of National Championships has increased from nine to twenty, and the number of participants in National Championships has soared 130% from just over 2,000 in 1984 to more than 5,000 this season, including the largest squash tournament in the world (U.S. High Schools), and the largest junior squash tournament in the world (U.S. Junior Open).
None of this should take away from how significant, and special, earning a National Championship title is, and how meaningful an experience it is for those who participate, their families, friends, schools and clubs. In the end, few of us ultimately win, however it’s the pursuit of excellence, the desire to compete, and the satisfaction we feel in having done our best and played fairly, that makes us appreciate our involvement in the sport.
Squash is now more accessible to more people in the U.S. than ever before, and we’re just getting started. Was “everyone” at Nationals? No, because there are so many nationals now. And thank goodness.