Bob Falk discovered squash while fulfilling a gym requirement at Franklin & Marshall College in the mid-1960s and eventually joined the school’s first varsity team in 1966.
“Being from Lancaster County, I didn’t know what squash was other than a vegetable,” he recalls with a laugh.
While times have certainly changed over the course of the past five decades, the sport of squash still rarely gets the same attention locally as it does in more metropolitan areas. But that’s about to change this week with the inaugural Hamilton Open, the first-ever Professional Squash Association-sanctioned event in Lancaster County.
The first two rounds of the women’s pro tour event, co-hosted by F&M and the Hamilton Club, will be played at F&M on Tuesday and Wednesday, Oct. 26 and 27. The Hamilton Club will host the quarterfinal, semifinal and final matches Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Oct. 28-30.
“It’s just another feather in the cap for Lancaster hosting women’s professional sports, like the U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship,” says tournament co-chair King Knox, who is better known to Lancaster County sports fans for his prowess on the golf course than on the squash courts. While Knox didn’t play squash in college, he took up the game right after joining the Hamilton Club in 1967.
Squash is played on a four-walled court, like racquetball but with variations in the rules.
“It’s a wonderful game,” Knox says. “It’s a very fast-paced game that requires agility and speed. It’s a great workout … probably none better. If you watch it at the professional level, it is so fast that unless you really know the game sometimes you can’t even see the ball. It moves that quickly.”
For fans of squash or those who simply want to learn more, the Hamilton Open should be a real treat. It may not be the top sport in Lancaster County, but its international popularity is unmistakable.
“It’s got a huge following,” Falk says.
The 24 professional women players competing here this week represent 18 different countries, including Hong Kong, Ukraine, Finland, Latvia, Mexico, Norway, Pakistan, England, France, Spain, Guyana and the U.S.
Squash is unique among professional sports in that the prize purses are equal …….