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Women’s Squash Rebrands for a New Era

A new name has been chosen by the governing body of women's squash to reflect the dynamic changes in the game.

Determined to build on the achievements of its parent organisation, the Women's International Squash Players’ Association (WISPA), the Women’s Squash Association (WSA) will be born on January 1st 2012, Olympic year.

With the women’s tour already composed of 70 tournaments across five continents and boasting a growing membership approaching 400, the governing body is ready for its journey into a rapidly changing new era.

The change from WISPA to WSA, which will also incorporate a new logo and website design, was decided by unanimous vote at WISPA’s Annual General Meeting during last week’s highly successful World Open in Rotterdam.

The newly-inaugurated WSA will begin 2012 with tournaments in the USA.

Its leading player, Malaysia’s Nicol David, is an Asian superstar, and the recent World Open produced an Indian quarter-finalist and a Mexican semi-finalist for the first time, reflecting its global presence.

Central to WSA’s ambitions will be further co-operation with the men’s tour, the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and the game’s governing body, the World Squash Federation (WSF), further enhancing squash’s bid for inclusion in the Olympic Programme for 2020.

WISPA Chairman and acting Chief Executive Officer Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer said: “The new name will make women's squash a much more distinct brand, further enhancing our marketing potential for sponsors. The next two years are very important for squash. Our game is now truly global, television coverage of the World Series with our friends at PSA has improved dramatically giving us exciting new audiences and the Olympic decision for 2020 is pending. It’s exciting; we can’t wait for the challenge.”

Tournaments until the end of December will still be branded as WISPA, after which a new website for the WSA will be launched early in the New Year and will become the hub for the latest news and events in women's squash.

Sam steps down

WISPA's Chief Administrator Sam Mueller has decided to step down from her role after almost 18 months in the job

Sam joined WISPA at a time of major transition last year and worked incredibly hard to streamline WISPA’s operation and settle the association into the new offices at Queens. Having worked in major city firm Rothschild for 17 years she was able to bring skills from the world of banking that assisted WISPA’s move into the modern era.

Sam's office experience made a big impact at WISPA, however, it was her passion for the game that was such an added asset. As an England over 35 International she knows what it's like to play at a high level and could relate to the girls on the tour. This gave her a great working relationship with all the players and gave them the confidence that as well as looking at things from an administrator point of view she would also understand a player’s!

Having got WISPA in to a position where it is well equipped to deal with the demands of being a modern association she has decided to move on and invest some time in other ventures. As well as being an active player on the International Vets circuit, she is building up a busy coaching schedule in Buckinghamshire helping to develop junior players and encouraging new players.

As Chairman on behalf of the Board and all at WISPA we would like to thank Sam for all her hard work and we wish her all the best in the future, no doubt she will be successful in whatever she decides to take on.

“It has been great working with Sam during the transition from the previous structure to a more fluid and versatile set-up. Whilst she will be a massive loss, I am sure that the changes she has made and the procedures she has put in place will help WISPA go from strength to strength. I am sure she will be successful in whatever she turns her hand to and wish her the best of luck on and off the court.”

WISPA Tour Director
“On behalf of the players I would like to thank Sam for all her hard work over the past 18 months. I wish her the best of luck with all her future endeavours."

Acting WISPA President
Howard Harding steps down from WISPA

After 15 years as the World Media Director for WISPA, Howard Harding will be stepping down as they move PR and media services 'in-house'. Howard will continue to provide the regular 'World Squash News' service on behalf of WSF and PSA.

Howard has provided a high level of service and media expertise since 1996 and has done a great deal to raise the profile of women’s squash in the press and the world wide media.

WISPA Chairman and acting CEO Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer said “I would like to thank Howard for all his effort and hard work, as well as helping Elliot settling into his position at WISPA. His passion for the game has been evident throughout his work and on behalf of the Board - and personally - I wish him every success for his future endeavors.”

WISPA President Jaclyn Hawkes also had this to say “On behalf of the players I would like to thank Howard for all his hard work and many entertaining reports over the past 15 years.”
Malaysian Open becomes
World Series Event

WISPA is pleased to announce that the 2011 CIMB Malaysian Open will this year become part of the WISPA World Series and boast the biggest prize fund in the event's history.

The move sees the prize fund move up to $60,000 and the event becomes the seventh tournament to join the prestigious group of tournaments on the rebranded WISPA World Series, the top tier of Women’s Squash.

The Malaysian National Squash Centre in Kuala Lumpur will once again play host, from 18th-23rd July. The Quarter Finals onwards will be played on the all glass court at the Curve Shopping Mall.

"We are delighted that the CIMB Malaysian Open has upgraded to join the WISPA World Series," said WISPA Tour Director Tim Garner.

"We always hoped that the country that has produced the WISPA’s premier player in the form of Nicol David would join the elite band of events that make up the WISPA World Series. We appreciate the efforts from SRAM and the additional commitment of squash supporter CIMB to make this happen and know the women will put on an event to remember.” 

After claiming her sixth successive title at the event last year, world number one Nicol David will be aiming for her seventh title at the upgraded event.

The Malaysian superstar was delighted with the news: "This upgrade for the CIMB Malaysian Open going into the World Series tier is just fantastic. Thanks to CIMB Bank for being such a true supporter of squash in Malaysia and I'm also fortunate that they continue to give me a constant boost being my core sponsor in raising this tournament up to the next bracket. I'm certain that this will attract all the top 20 WISPA players to come to Malaysia to compete in this event.”

WISPA Appoints Chairman Lofdahl-Bentzer As Acting CEO

The board of the Women's International Squash Players' Association has appointed its Chairman Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer to the position of Acting CEO with immediate effect.

The decision follows the recent resignation of WISPA's President Natalie Grainger, the former world number one from the USA who also represented the Association in the capacity of Principal.

Lofdahl-Bentzer, a former Swedish tennis number one, joined the WISPA Board in 2005. Head of Women's Professional Tennis at the ITF from 1995-99, the ex-world No14 went on to become the International Sponsoring Director for Sanex Tennis, sponsors of the WTA Tour, before becoming an advisor to the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters.

"We are so excited at WISPA to have someone with Ingrid's credentials and experience taking over as Acting CEO," said President Jaclyn Hawkes. "We are at an important juncture with the launch of the new World Series and the Board is confident that Ingrid is the person to help take WISPA to the next level.

"Ingrid has been acting above and beyond her role as Chairman of the Board of WISPA so the Board felt it was a natural appointment to Acting CEO," added the world No16 from New Zealand.

Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer told the board: "Thank you for trusting me and appointing me! With your help, I'll do my level best to protect, improve and advance squash in general and women's squash in particular!

"And, I'll do it with great pleasure and pride!"
WISPA President Natalie Grainger To Stand Down

Natalie Grainger's resignation letter

Natalie Grainger, the recently married former world number one who retired from the WISPA World Tour in December, is standing down as President of WISPA (Women's International Squash Players' Association) with immediate effect.

"WISPA has been part of my life for so long, fifteen years as a touring player, thirteen as a board member and eight years as WISPA President," said the US-based 33-year-old in her resignation letter to the Association's members.

"But I have a fantastic opportunity awaiting me. I have begun work on a project for Chelsea Piers New York. Chelsea Piers is opening a huge facility in Stamford, CT, which will include two ice rinks, an Olympic pool, gymnastics arena, batting cages, basketball courts, a full-sized soccer field, trampoline area and climbing wall, seven tennis courts and - the most exciting part - eleven squash courts and a hardball doubles court.

"Chelsea Piers has also agreed to purchase an all-glass court, which we can erect for major championships - so perhaps many of you will be passing through my doors in the near future," added Grainger, who won 23 WISPA World Tour titles throughout her illustrious career - and clinched her fifth successive US national title this weekend!

In paying tribute to the outstanding contribution Grainger has made to WISPA, Chairman Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer said: "WISPA has been incredibly lucky to have profited from Natalie's enthusiasm, energy and love for the game of squash during such a long time.

"Her willingness and enthusiasm to work relentlessly to help WISPA reach a level of professionalism and recognition has been pivotal and she is leaving a great legacy.

"She will be sorely missed, both on and off court, by her fans, of which I am one of the many. The Board wishes her all the best of luck in whatever she chooses to lend her numerous talents to."

Vice-President Jaclyn Hawkes will be acting President during the interim period.

"It has been and is a privilege to be a Board member as well as the WISPA Vice-President during Natalie's tenure," said the world No15 from New Zealand. "She has worked unbelievably hard for our organisation and hers will be very tough shoes to fill.

"It is an honour to be the acting President, a position which I will embrace."
WISPA Align With PSA In World Series Launch

The Women's International Squash Players' Association (WISPA) is announcing exciting plans to re-brand its top tier championships as WISPA World Series events, leading to an annual WISPA World Series Finals.

The first new WISPA World Series event will be this week's Cedrus Investments Cayman Islands Open. The $68,500 championship, in its third year in the Cayman Islands, has attracted a star-studded field featuring eight of the world's top ten women, led by world No1 Nicol David, who will be out to defend her title.

The decision is part of a growing plan by WISPA to work more closely with the men's international players' body, the Professional Squash Association (PSA), in order to maximise the resources and exposure available to both bodies.

"The new initiative will have a number of benefits," said WISPA Tour Director Tim Garner. "Not only will there be increased profile and prestige of those specific events, but it will also ensure seamless branding at tournaments that host both men's & women's World Series events.

"Furthermore, there will be the opportunity for the top players to earn the levels of money that their efforts warrant - and the combined resources of WISPA and PSA will bring improved television and other media coverage that can only benefit the sport as a whole," Garner continued.

PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough added: "This is an exciting time for squash. We have been in discussions with WISPA for a while now on the alignment of the top tier of the game and this is a big step towards this. PSA has been working hard on its media output and we look forward to helping promote the women's game with the same TV production team.

"We are also looking forward to showing the WISPA World Series events through the online channel Squash TV starting next week from the Cedrus Investments Cayman Islands Open."

The following events will make up the 2011 WISPA World Series:
  • Cayman Islands Open
  • Australian Open
  • Qatar International
  • Hong Kong Open
  • World Open

"We are also in discussions with a couple of other potential events which have expressed an interest in joining this elite group," added Garner. "We will be looking to grow the WISPA World Series to eight events, plus the World Open, in the near future."


WISPA Board Announces New Beginning

The Women's International Squash Players' Association (WISPA) today announced the following new executive team to lead WISPA with immediate effect:

1. Samantha Mueller - Chief Administration Officer
2. Tim Garner - Tour Director
3. Stewart Binns - Broadcast & Development Consultant
4. Ian Robinson - Special Projects

Co-opted Board Members: Jenny Denyer (nee Tranfield) and Peter Goodman.

WISPA is extremely delighted to be able to count on the services of such a talented group of individuals, many of whom have had significant involvement in the world of squash, in addition to being experts in their field.

"We have been very fortunate to have had such strong interest shown during our search for a talented team," said Natalie Grainger, the Association's President. "I feel more confident than ever that we are now in a position to build on WISPA's past success and lead Women's Squash to new heights."

In order to ensure a smooth transition to the new structure, the team will report into WISPA Chairman Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer to ensure continuity.

In addition to the new team, WISPA will also be moving offices to a prestigious new address in London at the famous Queen's Club.

"This represents a significant milestone in WISPA's history," added Lofdahl-Bentzer. "We are excited about the new team and the new beginning at Queen's Club and we look forward to welcoming all the WISPA family and friends to our new home in London."

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