BU Alumni Web

New Hope for an Old Game

Alum lures squash champs to Boston-area contest

| By Art Jahnke

Joe McManus (left) and David Palmer

No, the game of squash did not make the recent IOC cut of sports to be included in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Nor did it make the list of contenders for the 2016 Olympics. But those rejections have not dissuaded Joe McManus (CFA’95) from pursuing big plans for the small-popularity game.

McManus, founder of the organization U.S. ProSquash, hopes to create a new circuit for championship-level play, the type of play that is currently organized with some success by the Professional Squash Association (PSA). The sports impresario, who has worked as a political consultant and served as executive director of the American Diabetes Association, got into squash when he was the director of instrumental music at Groton School. He’s convinced that running a squash tournament is a lot like running a political campaign.

McManus’ first tournament, to be played at Cross Courts, a three-year-old squash club in Natick, Massachusetts, on three evenings from September 17 to September 19, has lured eight national squash champions from seven countries. The Cross Courts Invitational roster includes David Palmer, once ranked number one in the world (now ranked sixth), John White, another former world number-one, current U.S. champ Julian Illingworth, and five others known to serious squash players around the world.

The event is the first of many that McManus hopes to host.

“In the coming year, we’ll do five or six events in the major northeastern cities,” he says. “We think ten to twelve cities is our saturation point, and it will take two or three years to get to that level.”

And McManus has ideas about more than how to promote the game: he’d like to improve the game.

“I’m going to get rid of lets,” he says, referring to the practice of replaying a point if one player prevents another from getting to the ball. “The audience doesn’t like lets, and they don’t really understand what’s going on.”

To learn more about the Cross Courts Invitational, visit the U.S. ProSquash Web site.

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Comments

On 10 September 2009 at 6:41 PM, Beth Rasin (LAW'84) wrote:

It is great to see new promoters to the sport of squash.

Joe McManus is not the first BU alum to promote professional squash in the US. Squash already has a thriving pro tour in the US. I serve as Associate Director of one of the the world's premiere squash championships, the Tournament of Champions. The ToC features the top 32 players in the game and is played annually in Grand Central Terminal in New York City on a four walled glass court with tens of thousands of spectators taking in the action during tournament week. www.tocsquash.com

I also work with Zafi Levy, the head squash coach at Williams College who presents the Berkshire Open in March. The US squash circuit also has stops in Richmond, Chicago, St. Louis, Charleston, Rochester, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Newport,RI.

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