Womens Racquetball

Professional squash players return to Lancaster for second Hamilton Open | Sponsored content

When King Knox and Bob Falk co-chaired the inaugural Hamilton Open last fall, they hoped to bring attention to the sport of squash by creating a women’s pro-tour event that would attract talent nationally and globally. .

It remains to be seen whether this first tournament sparked new local interest in squash – a sport similar to racquetball played on a four-wall court. But there is no denying his success in the professional squash arena.

This year’s Hamilton Open, co-hosted by Franklin & Marshall College and the Hamilton Club, promises to be even bigger and better.

The first two rounds will take place at F&M on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 25 and 26. The Hamilton Club will host the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final on Thursday, Friday and Saturday 27-29 October.

Last year, the Hamilton Open, Lancaster County’s first-ever Professional Squash Association-sanctioned event, had a $10,000 purse and a 24-woman field with the highest-ranked player ranked 48th in the world.

“Thanks to the success of last year, thanks to the encouragement and support of the PSA, which is the world governing body… and also thanks to the support of additional sponsors, we have gone to 20,000 km this year”, says Knox.

For players and spectators alike, this means more than doubling the prize money of last year’s tournament.

“What that means for everyone who participates is that it will be a higher level, higher quality of play overall,” Knox said.

The first seed in this year’s field of 24 ranks 27th in the world.

“Egypt is pretty much the central location for most of the best players in the world,” says Knox. “It varies, but they have four of the top five men and four of the top six women. We have more Egyptian women coming this year than last year. … I think that speaks well for our tournament.

In addition to six competitors from Egypt, the open will welcome players from 13 other countries, including England, Scotland, France, Wales, Poland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Latvia, l India, Canada, Mexico, Colombia and, of course, the United States.

“Professional women’s squash in the United States is at the highest level it has ever been,” says Knox. “We had three players in the round of 16 for the first time at the US Open.”


This includes world number 4 Amanda Sohby, who will again be honorary host of the Hamilton Open this year.

“Amanda is the only American to make the world top 10, male or female,” Falk says.

Sohby played an exhibition game at the Hamilton Club a few years ago and became an honorary member of the club. When Knox and Falk first discussed the possibility of Lancaster hosting a PSA Tour event, Sohby volunteered to participate. As well as serving as the official player liaison and helping with tournament details, she also hopes to referee semi-final and final matches.

The Hamilton Open is part of PSA’s Challenger Tour circuit for less experienced beginner players. Total prize money for Challenger events is up to $30,000. The PSA Circuit World Championships, held this summer in Cairo, had a total purse of over $1 million, split equally between male and female participants.

“Squash is the only professional sport where men and women are paid equally for the same amount of play,” says Knox.

A tournament winner gets 18% of the prize pool, which in the case of the Hamilton Open is $3,600.

“Clearly they are not coming from Egypt, Scotland, England or anywhere else for the money,” Knox says.

What they’re looking for is a chance to earn points in a sanctioned tournament and improve their world rankings, Falk says. Becoming a 20k event not only increased the purse for the Hamilton Open, but also the points awarded. This year’s winner will earn 350 points, up from 200 points last year, Falk said.

That’s still a small number compared to events like the US Open, where the winner walks away with 2,750 points, he said. This is the main reason why players of Sohby’s caliber don’t usually play in tournaments the size of the Hamilton Open. A player’s ranking in any given month depends not only on his total point pool, but also on the number of tournaments he has participated in.

“A No. 1 player in the world wouldn’t come to this tournament because it wouldn’t help his average,” Falk said. “It would probably hurt him.”

But for up-and-coming squash players, the Hamilton Open has great value.

“There aren’t many tournaments like this,” Falk said. “Young players don’t have the chance to go out and get points and improve their rating.”

The Hamilton Open also has value for another type of young squash player.

Any excess tournament revenue after expenses is donated to the Squash Aces, a mentoring and tutoring program that pairs O&M students with sixth- to 12th-graders at Reynolds Middle School and McCaskey.

The program provides academic support and encourages healthy lifestyle choices, while introducing a new generation to the game of squash.

Last year’s inaugural Hamilton Open brought in $11,000 for the program, and Falk and Knox hope to top that figure this year.

Games at F&M are free and open to the public. Due to limited seating, matches at the Hamilton Club are ticketed only and are already sold out. All matches will be broadcast live on psaworldtour.com/tournaments.

For more information on the Hamilton Open, visit hamiltonopen.org.