Squash is often considered the sport of prep schools and Ivy League colleges, but four squash enthusiasts are changing that, one court at a time. The NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver officially opened the first-of-its-kind in the world outdoor squash court at Hamilton Fish Park on the Lower East Side. This amazingly cool court looks more like an Apple Store glass cube than a fitness facility. Even cooler, it’s funded by the nonprofit Public Squash and is free to the public and will offer free clinics throughout the summer.
The court is a U.S. Open-quality, pro, glass squash court modified for the outdoors. It stands 18.5’ tall, nearly 32’ long and 20’ wide. It has an elastic floor with drainage capabilities and no roof, providing for open-air play. The court was installed on one of four of Hamilton Fish Park’s handball courts and has been permitted through NYC Parks’ Adopt-a-Park program. It will stand for six months.
Ryan Wall, the director of Public Squash, is super excited about their future. Although stymied by the atrocious weather while constructing the court, it took seven days to assemble. But Wall expects it to be even quicker the next time around. “We hope there will be hundreds of courts in the next few years.” Wall says the city will be assessing the usage of the courts, but he has high hopes. Public Squash, in partnership with the City Park Foundation’s tennis programs, will be offering a five-week kids’ clinic starting the second week of May. Registration will be on the Public Squash site. Omar Durrani, a squash and tennis coach from Brooklyn, will be the pro teaching the clinics. “Even though a lot of people have not even heard of the sport, when they see the court all they want to do is get on and play,” says Wall. Rackets and balls are currently available from Public Squash and will eventually be available through a free rental program from the tennis facilities.
Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) stated, “I am excited any time we can encourage more physical activity and exercise among our young people and the opening of this court offers a valuable new outlet for our community. I look forward to seeing the recreational opportunities this new project affords our neighborhood!”
All photos and renderings courtesy of Public Squash
Neighborhoods : Lower East Side