Squash courts more fans

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

As heated rivalries go, Canada versus the U.S. should be able to get the blood boiling. On the squash court for the Lapham-Grant Trophy Matches, set for Feb. 18-20 at the Bow Valley Club, team captains are a little less malicious in their attempt to win.

Players range in age from early 20s to 70s, so making the schedule even is imperative to fair play.

"The idea is to match them and if it works really well, it should come down to the final match," said tournament organizer Dale Lucas at the club yesterday.

"It doesn't always work that way. Last February in San Francisco, Canadians won the singles 11-4. On the doubles side, it was 7-7 going into the final match. You could cut the air with a knife there was so much tension."

Lucas is hoping for the same sort of excitement for the 2005 version of the event, which is one of the oldest in North America and has just as ancient trophies.

The Lapham Cup was first awarded in 1922 to the country winning the singles matches, while the Grant Cup came on the scene in 1944.

Both trophies are enormous, with the Grant Cup about four feet in height.

Each Cup is on display at the Bow Valley Club and has the names of all the winners of the previous 83 tournaments.

So there will be plenty of motivation for amateur players from across Canada.

"If they win, they will get their names on those big trophies," Lucas said. "Those are monuments, as somebody said, because they are huge.

"This has gone on non-stop since 1922, yet hardly anybody knows about it.

"One of the reasons squash isn't more popular is you can't put a lot of people in the seating. It's not conducive to TV because the ball moves so fast. With the advent of high definition television, this game should take off."

The viewing area at the club will only seat a few hundred spectators for the prestigious event, so Lucas is aiming at setting up another area for fans to watch on closed-circuit TV.

"We're trying to get a hi-def TV and set up a screening area in another area of the complex," Lucas said. "I saw a similar setup in Sante Fe three weeks ago at a tournament.

"With everybody getting those sets, it should take off."


Videos

Photos