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FISU Technical Committee Chair

Cyrus Poncha Technical Committee Chair
in ind
Zena Wooldridge Sub. Technical Committee Chair
gb gbr

The History of Squash in FISU

In the summer of 1995 the Netherlands’ University Sports Association, NSSS, and the National Squash Federation, NSRB, decided to organise the first World University Squash Championship. The idea to launch a premiere in this sport was based on its popularity among students worldwide and on the Netherland’s competency in organising international events. The World Squash Federation offered its absolute and active support, and came up with a suitable date in the international calendar in August 1996. The overall level of the event was high, which was not surprising, since several countries had sent their national teams to this championship. One example, among others, was the record of the winner in the men’s contest, the Brazilian Paul Conolly, from Rio de Janeiro. As a national champion in 1995, he was also the pan-American vice-champion in 1994. Such countries as Brazil, Belgium, Ireland, France, Czech Republic and Switzerland had also sent their best national teams.

The second edition of this championship was held in 1998 in Cardiff (GBR), a city which is more known for its commitment to rugby, but where the British Open Squash Championships were held in 1995, 1996 and 1997. It was Britain’s Jenny Tranfield who prevailed in the women’s singles against the title holder, the superb Belgian champion Kim Hannes, already Belgium’s senior champion at the age of 15. Among men, it was the French champion Thierry Lincou, who took the title from his compatriot Jean-Michel Arcucci. These two players are regular members of the professional PSA circuit. Squash has rapidly reached a high technical level among the sports represented in our championship programme. Furthermore, thanks to its high participation level, its future in FISU seems to be assured.

In the 2000 edition held in Pilsen, Czech Republic, 14 teams from all over the world participated. The sports complex which housed the squash players (ESQUO) had already hosted the first professional championship in Eastern Europe in 1996, and therefore it had the experience of this kind of activity. From the sports standpoint, this tournament was a return bout for two male finalists. The winner Thierry Lincou (FRA) was the current champion participating for the third time. The other finalist had already been a challenger in the first edition in Maastricht (1996) when he had lost in the finals to the brilliant Brazilian Paul Conolly. It seemed that Thierry Lincou was very familiar with university championships; he particularly enjoyed the atmosphere which is so different from that of professional tournaments. The ladies’ finals was magnificent. It set Canadian Baizley against Wing-Yin from Hong Kong. At the end of 5 sets, none of the players could take a clear lead — the game point was on both sides on several occasions. Finally Canadian Marnie Baizley proved the sturdier player and took the title.

The 4th edition of the World University Squash Championship was played in Linz, Austria. These events did not damp the spirit of the 43 men and 17 women who had come to Austria to do their utmost. The Egyptian team really stood out during the tournament. In the men’s tournament, three Egyptians took the first three places! Karim Darwish (18th in the WSF ranking) surpassed his compatriot Mohammed Abbas (27th in the WSF ranking) in the finals. In the team competition Egypt took the gold medal over France and became the defending champion for the first time. Karim Darwish, Mohammed Abbas and Engy Kheirallah decisively won the match over the very solid French opponents. The bronze medal went to Great Britain, which won the play-off against Canada.

The city of Szeged, Hungary, was the place where high-level student squash players met for the 5th World University Squash Championship in 2006. The team competitions finished in the evening at the World University Squash Championship in Szeged, Hungary, after a well-balanced finals between the French and the British team ,which took the gold medals. Chris Ryder (GBR) and Lim Yoke Wah (MAL) took the gold medals for men and women in the individual finals of the Championship. Egypt and Australia, both strong nations in squash, hosted the World University Squash Championships in 2008 and 2010 respectively, having the participation record broken in Cairo with a total number of 68 players.