[Updated on 1 January 2024] The game of squash has been around since the early 1800s, but for the most part it has been played with two players and no more. Squash is very similar to racquetball but has a few different rules and equipment. In 1907, the first game of doubles squash was played with two teams of two people each. Since then, doubles squash has been continually growing in popularity.
In the Beginning
Ever since the first doubles squash game in 1907 in Philadelphia, no less than four organizations have been formed to promote and sponsor not just all types of tournaments and competitions, but also interest in the game itself. The four organizations are:
- Squash Canada
- U.S. Squash
- The International Squash Doubles Association (ISDA)
- The Women’s Doubles Squash Association (WDSA)
In fact, these organizations work together to manage a number of doubles squash events all year long. They oversee both junior and adult play from beginners to the sport to elite professional competitions.
There’s a lot of money involved as well. For instance, the ISDA rebranded in 2000 and now sponsors more than 20 events yearly, awarding a total of $750,000 in prize money. It is the same with the WDSA, which formed in 2007 and awards roughly $100,000 in prizes. Not bad for two organizations that haven’t been around that long.
The groups even work to provide both money and support to kids’ squash programs all over the country, especially those in underprivileged areas.
In North America, there are currently squash courts in every major area, totaling around 165 throughout the continent. But in case you think this is a sport that is popular only in North America, think again. Areas such as Singapore, Scotland, Barbados, Malaysia, and Thailand, among others, also have lots of doubles squash courts for people to enjoy.
Let’s Talk Specifics
Now that you’ve learned a little about the origins of doubles squash, let’s get to some specifics about the game itself. In doubles squash, the following specifications have to be met:
- The court has to be 25 feet wide, 45 feet long, and have a ceiling that is 24 to 26 feet high
- There is a standard ball made for all sanctioned tournaments, and it is made by the leader in squash equipment, Dunlop Sports
- Games are played until they reach 15 points and the winner is the team that wins three out of five games
The World Doubles Squash Championship, in play since 1981, is held every two years and the United States and Canada take turns at hosting the event. There are also other international events to look forward to, including the Lapham-Grant Trophy, the oldest international doubles contest in the world and hosted alternately by the United States and Canada; the World Squash Doubles, which has seen countries such as England, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia participate; Copa-Wadsworth, which pits the United States against Mexico; and the Can Am Cup, an event between the United States and Canada which is played every other year.
As you can see, the sport of squash is taken seriously in today’s world, and the people who play professionally are extremely talented. If you’re interested in some more history of this interesting and fun game, keep reading.
Back to How it All Got Started
After the above short segue, we can now get back to discussing the history of doubles squash, and we’ll start with how the sport got more standardized and organized. Although doubles squash started in 1907, it wasn’t until 1930 that it became an “official” sport. In 1933, in fact, U.S. Squash started both men’s and women’s national championships.
In 1938, professional doubles games were begun, but the popular tour wasn’t developed until the late 1970s. The World Doubles Championship started in 1981 and takes place every other year, with both the United States and Canada taking turns hosting the event. The number of players has grown tremendously since that time. Nowadays, in fact, it is estimated that there are more than 10,000 doubles players in the United States alone.
Our Neighbors to the North
The same can be said for Canada. Today, doubles squash has been played in Canada since 1920, and more than 90% of Canada’s population has access to doubles squash courts. In four of the five provinces, championships are held that include more than 1,100 players participating in games weekly. Right now, the estimate of doubles squash players in Canada is thought to be around 4,000 total.
Some of the Top Players
With both men’s and women’s doubles squash tournaments, there are some names that seem to get bandied about frequently because the players are just that good at the game. Some of the biggest winners in the men’s games include John Russell, who is number one, Chris Walker from England, Martin Heath from Scotland, Brett Martin from Australia, Mark Chaloner from England, and Paul Price from Australia.
Top women’s players include Natalie Grainger from the United States, Amanda Sohby from the United States (a World Junior Champion), Narelle Krizek from Australia, and Suzy Pierrepont from England. On an interesting note, you’d be doing yourself a favor by looking up some of these names and learning how much they have contributed to the history of this amazing sport. Some of the names are found numerous times because they have gotten so good and so well-known at their craft.
From relatively humble beginnings, the sport of doubles squash has grown to what it is today, which is nothing short of spectacular. It is a fun, very social game and is enjoyed by all types of people in nearly every country in the world. The growth of the sport is something to be admired, and even though it is considered an expensive sport to participate in, you can usually try it out without spending a fortune. It is worth it to do this, because this is one sport that is not likely to wane in popularity anytime soon.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Doubles Squash
Okay, some of these questions will sound a little quirky, but hey, that’s what makes this game interesting, right? You can learn some interesting facts about doubles squash in the process, but they’re also a lot of fun to read!
Q: Are there different types of squash?
A: There are two basic types: hardball, played on a bigger court, and softball, which is more prevalent today.
Q: Which area of the world has never held a squash tournament?
A: Although Grand Central Station, West Edmonton Mall, and the Pyramids of Giza have all held tournaments (!), one place has not: the Grand Canyon!
Q: Are there odd and memorable events in squash tournaments?
A: In 1983 during the World Doubles event, all four quarter-final games lasted almost nine hours because all five games had to be played, causing the officials to push the finals ahead about half a day.
Q: How many countries participate in the game of squash?
A: Roughly 185 countries play squash, which is roughly 95% of the countries in the world.
Q: Is it true that mostly well-educated people play squash?
A: In a way, yes. Although all sorts of people love the sport, roughly 98% of the people who play squash in the United States have college degrees, with nearly 60% of them having graduate degrees.
Q: How did squash get started?
A: The sport of squash got its start in a prison. Yep, a debtor’s prison. A game called Rackets was developed in a London debtor’s prison, but it was revised and made popular later on when it started being played at a boy’s school right outside of London.
Q: Why is the game called squash?
A: At that same school in London, the name was developed because early balls burst and made a “squashing” sound when they were hit against the wall.
Q: Is it expensive to play squash?
A: It can be, because you need the right racquet, balls, shoes, and athletic wear. There are also fees to join a squash club, and all of these costs add up quickly.
Q: Can you serve overhead like you can in tennis?
A: Although serving overhead is allowed, most squash players don’t do this frequently, if at all, because it makes it much more difficult to return the ball.
Q: What are the advantages of adding a double squash court to a fitness center or squash club?
A: There are many advantages, but perhaps the biggest ones are that you will attract more older members, and since they tend to have more disposable income than younger people, this can be financially advantageous to the club.
Q: What are some of the things that make doubles squash so much better than standard squash games?
A: Doubles squash games tend to be more fun, much more social since there are more players involved, and the games tend to last longer. They also use a hardball, which is unlike singles squash games.