03 June 2022 / 3-Min Read
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When squash was first “exported” to the United States of America, they built squash courts before they had equipment! Sounds stupid nowadays, but such is how new things are created. So basically, in the 1880’s, the boys at St. Paul’s School, in Concord, New Hampshire had some squash courts but no rackets or balls to play with. So what do you do? You find the next best thing and that happened to be the recently introduced game of tennis. So those enterprising youngsters took their rackets and the tennis ball and Voila! Squash tennis was born.
And just like squash rackets, which by the way used to be the official name of squash (just in case you didn’t know), the actual rules didn’t really develop or at least were codified until 30 or so years later. Nowadays we understand and expect the size of courts, rackets and balls to be strictly controlled and adhered to, but back then, and I only slightly hesitate to use the term, things were more like the Wild West.
Court sizes varied between locations, as they did in early squash. The balls used in Squash Tennis have also changed over the years, from originally regular tennis balls to specialist green high-pressure ones.
As I have mentioned, courts sized varied until they eventually chose a size that was close enough to a regular squash (as it was originally played on anyway) that people could use those too.
There a sentence in the Wikipedia page that says “A faster ball was preferred by advanced players, but it discouraged novices.” and it’s fascinating that Squash Tennis had the same issue as modern squash in the sense that advanced players wanted or required a different ball than novices and I can’t help but feel that is crucial to the development of the sport.
Its seems that official Squash Tennis is no longer played. Part of me is happy because I do fear that these types of sports dilute squash’s impact, but I also recognise that anything that keeps squash courts open is a good thing. What do you think?
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Here are the links I used to create this article.
+ Wikipedia: Squash Tennis
+ Project Gutenberg: Squash Tennis by Richard C. Squires
+ The Atlantic: The Last Squash Tennis Player by James Zug
+ The Irish Real Tennis Association: The "Lost" Court of Cumberland Island by Dennis McCarthy
+ Britannica: Squash Tennis
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