Shrewsbury Squash & Racketball Club celebrates 40th anniversary with open day on September 20th

Shrewsbury Squash and Racketball Club is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a public open day where visitors can join free coaching sessions and see England international Courtney Downing and other top county players in action.

Training sessions, available to both juniors and adults of all ages and abilities, will run from 10am to 7pm on Saturday September 20.

Exhibition matches will also be held throughout the day, featuring England over 40s international and 10-times Shropshire county squash champion Downing and reigning county racketball and former county squash champion Mervyn Davies.

The club, based nextdoor to Shrewsbury Rugby Club at Sundorne Castle, off Newport Road, is currently enjoying record membership levels thanks to a resurging interest in squash and the growing popularity of its slower-paced sister game racketball.

“The idea of the open day is to give people, who may not have tried the sport before, an introduction and the opportunity to see it being played competitively,” said Downing, a club member since 2002.

“We’re encouraging people of all ages and abilities to try for free a great sport that is excellent for fitness and can be played all year round.”

The club, one of the few independent squash clubs in the UK, was founded in 1974 by four stalwarts of the rugby club with the purpose of providing indoor sport facilities to help rugby players maintain their fitness levels over winter.

It has grown over the years to provide three courts and now has 154 members. A new £120,000 extension opened last year, adding a glass-backed court to provide tournament match facilities.

 

Downing, who began playing squash at the age of eight, was selected in March to represent the England men’s over 40s team at home internationals for the 2014/15 tournament season. 

Eighteen months ago the club established a thriving junior section and is now at the vanguard of forming a countywide junior league. More women are also members than ever before – four of them crowned past county squash champions. Annual membership for under-21s is free.

“It’s the intensity and adrenalin of squash that makes it such an attractive sport,” said Davies, the Shropshire county racketball champion for the last four years and a two-times county squash champion.

“It’s not elitist, it’s for everyone, particularly racketball because it’s a bit easier and less stressful on the body, certainly as an introduction to squash and for older players.

“The club has a very good set up with a pro-active committee. It’s very member focussed and all the money it makes is ploughed back into the club. It’s one of the few squash clubs in the area that has been fortunate to progress.”

Shrewsbury had five squash clubs in 1974 but squash declined in popularity with the growth of large gym chains in the 1980s and ‘90s. Today Shrewsbury Squash and Racketball Club is one of just two squash clubs remaining in Shrewsbury – the other being Shrewsbury School and Racquets Club.

Originating in America, racketball is a similar game to squash but is a slower-paced game played with a larger racket and ball.

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