Hong Kong takes squash to the masses
Hong Kong squash is committed to bringing the world’s best
players to Hong Kong for the annual festival of squash that is
the Hong Kong Open, but also to bringing the sport to the
masses, by ensuring the greatest possible exposure not only in
the period surrounding the Open and throughout the year.
All Glass Court
The Hong Kong Open naturally provides a great opportunity for
promoting the sport to a wider audience, particularly in the
later stages when the tournament moves to the all-glass portable
Plaza Hollywood shopping mall has hosted the event four
times, its three-tier atrium providing access for thousands of
shoppers and passers-by to witness world class sport first hand
and close up.
And of course, the iconic harbour front alongside the
Cultural Centre, venue for this year’s event, provides an
even more splendid opportunity for residents and visitors to
catch some of the action.
At both venues ample free
viewing areas are provided, and many hundreds of spectators take
the opportunity of watching some of the action during the
semi-final and finals.
first time we took the tournament to the Plaza Hollywood, in
2006, it was a bit of an experiment for us,” said Karl Mak,
Executive Director of HK Squash, “but it seemed to create a real
buzz with the visitors, and the viewing at all of the levels was
packed out during every match.
“The players really appreciate playing in front of such a large,
and increasingly knowledgeable crowd, at the Plaza and on the
Harbour,” added Mak.
And some of those who see the sport for the first time in one of
these iconic locations are surely destined to become part of the
future of squash as they are drawn into Hong Kong’s extensive
Nurturing young stars
While the Hong Kong Open is one of the regular stops for all of
the world’s best senior squash players, HK Squash also prides
itself on its commitment to developing future top echelon
players through its own renowned junior development programme
and a host of other activities aimed at nurturing the future
generation of players.
programme started in its present form in late nineties, and it
has since grown exponentially, currently featuring mini-squash,
a feeder system, school and community programmes and award
schemes encompassing 10,000 junior players.
The most significant fruits of the programme can be seen in the
success of the Junior Girls team, who were World
Champions in 2005 and medallists in 2009 and 2011. In individual
terms, Annie Au and Joey Chan are the most
prominent products of the programme, currently ranked #6 and #18
in the senior world rankings.
so pleased with the success of the junior programme,” said Head
Coach Tony Choi. “We now travel to major junior events
across the world with realistic hopes of success in most
categories, and our strength in depth is such that we often have
to leave players at home who could do well, simply because of
limits on numbers.”
“And of course we’re all so proud of Annie who reached the
semi-finals of last year’s Hong Kong Open and of course Joey
Chan, Max Lee and Leo Au, Annie’s younger brother, also
products of the development programme who are performing well on
the World Tour.”
more where they came from too - one of the most popular junior
squash events in the world, the
Hong Kong Junior Open
has just completed its 44th year, with a record 560 entries
from all over the world.
It’s a fun event, as reflected in the innovative poster designs,
but also a valuable training and proving ground for many local
This year’s event saw home players take four of the ten
available titles, with Malaysia collecting five and India one.
World Squash Day
whole squash community gets involved too - Sat 20th October,
World Squash Day aiming to demonstrate global support
for the sport’s 2020 Olympic Bid by staging ‘the biggest squash
match in history’.
Hong Kong was naturally at the forefront of this initiative as
hundreds of players at all of its squash centres took the side
of “Team Squash” or “Team 2020”, each result counting towards
the overall global total, expected to be around 20,000 players a
“We had a great time for the last World Squash Day which had an
Olympic theme,” said Heather Deayton, Vice-President of
the World Squash Federation and the former Executive Director of
Hong Kong Squash -
pictured here during this year's "FlashMob".
“This year’s theme had really struck a chord with the local
squash community and we saw some fun events at many of the
the time the IOC inspectors arrive for this year’s Hong Kong
Open, many more people will have been exposed to the game
through the various activities and programmes surrounding the
And who knows, perhaps some of them will be competing for squash
medals in the 2020 Olympics.
We can but dream...