London

International squash tournament held in London, Ont., draws players from around the world

An annual international squash tournament that's been held in London, Ont., for 14 years has become a stepping stone for professional players to gain more traction for global tournaments, its organizer says. 

Nash Cup runs from Sept 12 to 17 at the London Squash Club

The Nash Cup is a international professional squash tournament that's been taking place at the London Squash Club for 14 years. Jay Nash is its organizer (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

An annual international squash tournament that's been held in London, Ont., for 14 years has become a stepping stone for professional players to gain more traction for global tournaments, its organizer says. 

Players from around the world participate in the five-day Nash Cup taking place at the London Squash Club. The tournament's host Jay Nash said 45 countries have been represented in the competition over the years. 

"The atmosphere in this club is just electric all week, and the players also really like being in London, we have a great city and they really enjoy the social scene here," said Nash.

Out of the 48 players in this year's tournament, 21 are in London for the first time ever, he said.

The cup initially started in 2008 as a way to help Western University students get more involved in the global scene of professional squash, but has evolved into a way for players to increase their overall rankings, Nash said. 

This year's prize is worth $20,000 US each for male and female draws. Each draw has 24 players and the matches are single elimination. 16 started on Tuesday and the winners are joined by the top eight players on the second night, Nash explained. 

A woman hits a squash ball on the court in front of a man.
German player Katerina Tycova practising with her partner before playing her first match on Tuesday night. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Experiencing the world

Curtis Malik, 23, from England has played squash since he was five-years-old. The Nash Cup is his first tournament of the season and he's excited to see how far he can progress in world rankings. 

"These type of events are really important for us players to be able to build our rankings and compete against other international players and build up reputations," he said.

"So it's just a good chance for us to play different players and experience different places and venues around the world."

Malik said training for tournaments is quite intense, ranging from four to six hours every day both on and off the court, along with physical training sessions.

Curtis Malik from England can't wait to see how he progresses in the world rankings as a professional player. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Leandro Romiglio of Argentina chose to participate in the tournament for the second time in five years because he loves the welcoming energy from audiences, he said.

"I really like this tournament," he said. "The venue is amazing and the people, and the crowd who watches the matches is unbelievable."

Romiglio's played squash for nearly 26 years, starting as a child watching his dad play. 

"I've been playing my whole life, when I was little I was going with him [his dad] to the club, so in between games I jumped on court and I start practising there and I never stopped," he said. 

Argentinian player Leandro Romiglio said he loves the way spectators welcome and cheer him on. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Nash said every night, the tournament sees about 100 in-person spectators. He believes large crowds are very important for the sport's morale.

"We tend to have spectators right from night one and it's not a quiet sport, we have full crowds all the way through and the pros love it, they hear the hum from on the courts and they eat it up," he said. 

Katerina Tycova of Germany is in Canada for the first time ever and the 23-year-old is all set to play her first match on Tuesday night.

Katerina Tycova, 23, from Germany is excited to play her first match of the tournament on Tuesday. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

"Squash is a very fast sport and it's always like you have to learn more to be better," she said.

"I'm a bit nervous and excited but let's see, I want to win. I just hope I do a good tournament and will have some good results."

Nash says planning for the next tournament starts as soon as the current one ends, with next year's dates decided by the end of the week. Until then, his team will plan how to make the next one bigger and better than the previous ones. 

The tournament runs from Sept. 12 to 17 and will also be livestreamed online for international spectators. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isha Bhargava is a reporter for CBC News. She's worked for Ontario newsrooms in both Toronto and London. She loves telling current affairs and human interest stories. You can reach her at isha.bhargava@cbc.ca or on Twitter @isha__bhargava

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