Seven things you didn’t know about… Squash

Squash has steadily evolved since its origins in 19th-century England. Will Jones shares seven unlikely facts about the sport

In the beginning

Like many modern-day racquet sports, squash has its origins in 19th-century England. Its direct precursor was the ancient sport of racquet, played on an enclosed indoor court with no net.

All about the ball

The main difference between squash and racquets is the ball, which in squash is slightly lighter (23-25 grams) and made of rubber. Amateur players can choose a ball that suits their ability – from fast and bouncy (ideal for beginners) to slow and low (as used in professional tournaments).

Score update

For decades, only the server could score points in a squash match. If the server lost the rally, the serve passed to the other player and the score remained unchanged. However in 2008, point-a-rally scoring, or PARS, was introduced, with the player who wins the rally automatically winning a point. Games are played to 11 points, and competition matches are the best of five games.

Keeping order

Since the founding of the International Squash Rackets Federation (ISRF) in 1967, the sport’s first international governing body, squash has seen a dramatic growth in its global popularity. Now known as the World Squash Federation (WSF), the organisation still runs the sport around the globe.

Record breaker

Widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the sport’s history, Pakistani player Jahangir Khan set an unbreakable record when, in 1982, he won the International Squash Players Association Championship without losing a single point.

Squash through the looking glass

The biggest revolution in squash over the last 40 years has been the arrival of portable glass courts, which have meant that tournaments can be staged in spectacular locations all over the world – from Grand Central Station in New York to the Giza pyramid complex in Egypt and, most recently, in front of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. Just as importantly, the court’s glass walls mean that spectators and TV cameras now feel much closer to the action.

Road to Dubai

First played in 1993, the PSA World Series Finals made their debut in Downtown Dubai in May 2016. The season-ending climax brings together the best eight qualified players on the men’s and women’s tours. In a revolutionary move for 2017 and 2018, the tournament will be held at the state-of-the-art Dubai Opera House.