World's Best Squash Professionals to Compete in Birmingham
The Birmingham Athletic Club will host the Motor City Open Jan. 26-31.
Sixteen of the world’s best professional squash players—including nine of the world’s top 25—will compete in the Motor City Open Jan. 26-31, 2011 in an event that is open to the public.
Professional squash players from Australia, Egypt, England, Malaysia, the Netherlands and the United States will descend on the Birmingham Athletic Club (BAC) for the event, which has grown into one of the Professional Squash Association’s premier tournaments. The BAC has what is widely considered to be the most prominent squash facility in Michigan and one of the more recognized facilities in the United States.
Now in its 12th year and with a purse of $50,000, the 2011 Motor City Open is presented by the Suburban Collection. The six-day tournament, one of only a few professional squash tournaments in the United States, typically attracts more than 1,500 spectators. The winner earns a cash prize, a Rolex chronometer donated by Greenstone’s Fine Jewelry and a replica vintage steering wheel trophy.
Squash is a sport that has become extremely popular among BAC members and in the Birmingham community. It is considered one of the more difficult sports to play, and one that requires an extreme anount of athleticism. One of the biggest reasons is the ball that is used is non-pressurized, which forces the players to cover more of the court and bend down to play their shots, said BAC Director of Squash Julian Wellings.
“It requires more movement and offers less time for the player to react,” Wellings said. “And it requires a lot more running because of that. It requires fast hands and is very challenging.”
At the collegiate level, many of the Ivy League schools are the sport’s biggest powers, said Wellings, a 10-year player on the Pro Squash Tour from 1991-2001.
“It’s popular all over the world but right now the biggest power in terms of producing the highest number of world-class players is Egypt,” Wellings said.
Junior squash players from throughout the region have an opportunity to hit with and receive coaching from the competing professionals during a Junior Clinic at the BAC sponsored by the DeRoy Testamentary Foundation.
The BAC, located at 4033 W. Maple Road, has the Midwest’s largest junior squash program and several of the BAC’s junior players are nationally ranked. The club also has a decades-long history of sending squash players to some of the nation’s best universities and colleges.
Children enrolled in Racquet Up Detroit, a youth development program that combines squash, mentoring, tutoring and community service, also will participate in this year’s Junior Clinic.
Squash is a racquet sport played by two players in a four-walled court with a small, hollow rubber ball. Points are earned after each rally. The first player to earn 11 points (or win by two points after reaching a 10-all score) wins the game. A player must win three of five games to win the match.
Forbes magazine recently praised squash as the world’s healthiest sport—healthier than swimming, running and cycling. Squash is one of the fastest growing collegiate sports, and is well known to be the hardest workout in racquet sports.
When: Jan. 26-Jan. 31
- Qualification Draw, First Round: Jan. 26, 5-10 p.m.
- Qualification Draw, Second Round: Jan. 27, 5-10 p.m.
- First Round, Main Draw: Jan. 28, 5-10 p.m.
- Quarter Finals, Main Draw: Jan. 29, 3-7 p.m.
- Semi-Finals, Main Draw: Jan. 30, 4-7 p.m.
- Finals, Main Draw: Jan. 31, 6:30-9 p.m.
Who is participating:
- Laurens Jan Anjema (Netherlands); MCO seeded No. 1, world ranked No. 9
- Mohamed El Shorbagy (Egypt); MCO seeded No. 2, world ranked No. 10
- David Palmer (Australia); MCO seeded No. 3, world ranked No. 11
- Adrian Grant (England); MCO seeded No. 4, world ranked No. 14
- Cameron Pilley (Australia); world ranked No. 15
- Omar Mosaad (Egypt); world ranked No. 15
- Ong Ben Hee (Malaysia); world ranked No. 18
- Jonathan Kemp (England); world ranked No. 24
- Mohd. Ali Anwar Reda (Egypt); world ranked No. 25
The Motor City Open is accessible to the public. Day tickets for Court 2 are available, and can be purchased at the door.