John Orr (left) and Barry Benner put ball to racquet on the Trail squash court Monday afternoon. The current space is not regulation size and can’t be used for tournaments. The Evening Squash Program was recently allotted a $20

John Orr (left) and Barry Benner put ball to racquet on the Trail squash court Monday afternoon. The current space is not regulation size and can’t be used for tournaments. The Evening Squash Program was recently allotted a $20

Grant will help squash court makeover

The money was allotted by the City of Trail through Columbia Basin Trust’s 2015 Community Initiatives and Affected Areas program.

Winning a game of squash is more about brains than brawn.

“Sure it helps to be 30 years old, but we have players who are in their 60s who can regularly kick younger one’s butts on the court,” says Mike Piva, volunteer organizer for Trail’s Evening Squash Program. “Usually it is the smarter players who win, regardless of age, sex or body type. With each opponent you play, you enjoy an entirely new experience on the court as no two players are alike.”

Piva’s passion for the racquet sport and drive to revitalize Greater Trail with the game, recently paid off with a $20,000 grant to reconfigure a court in the Trail Memorial Centre (TMC).

The money was allotted by the City of Trail through Columbia Basin Trust’s 2015 Community Initiatives and Affected Areas program.

The city currently has one squash court, but it is undersized, therefore not suited for competitive play.

So growing local interest and welcoming higher level squash players to the Trail facility is moot without regulation sized spaces.

Piva’s proposal includes converting one of the racquetball courts, located on the TMC’s top floor, into a 21 foot wide by 32 foot long squash court.

The racquetball courts are underused as that sport popularity has dwindled, says Piva, adding that the court space is smaller than regulation squash, or 20-feet wide by 40-feet long.

“The idea is to install a tempered glass back wall at the 32-foot mark in one of the two existing racquetball courts,” he explained.

“And sand the floors, put line markings on the floor and walls and install a tell-tale tin at the front wall.”

He mentioned two club members, Kevin and Steve Limbert, who participated in the Nelson Spring Squash Tournament, with Kevin winning the Men’s B+ Consolation Division, and Steve’s win in the Men’s B Division. Last year, Mike Amantea, another club member, competed in Revelstoke’s annual Bear’s Den Classic Squash tournament and won the Men’s C Division.

“The calibre of squash is expected to increase in the coming years with the court conversion,” Piva noted. “And soon when (hoping) we get a second regulation court to play on, we too can start hosting squash tournaments and even create a junior program for kids.”

He said squash is easy to learn, considered the world’s healthiest sport, and played year round in over 175 countries by 20 million people.

Within two to three years of having multiple regulation-size squash courts, the level of play in Trail can increase enough to allow competitive “A” competitions, says Piva.

“In turn, Trail will be in a position to host regional squash tournaments with it’s Kootenay and Okanagan neighbours,” he added.

Nelson has already converted unused racquetball courts, and is currently finishing renovations on four additional squash courts in advance of its spring tournament, he continued, noting competitive players travel to Castlegar for games and recently, Kamloops opened up a new private squash club prior to its inaugural spring tournament.

“I presume the new outlook on squash will form part of the ‘rebranding of the Trail Memorial Centre’ in the coming years,” he told the Trail Times. “Creating more traffic flow to the centre, as well as bring more business to the downtown core and of course, to continue the long tradition of Trail being the Home of Champions.”

Partnering with Trail Recreation and the squash membership is Austin Engineering and Redwood Engineering.

Phase 1 construction is expected to begin before year end, and includes new wall panelling on the front and side walls of the racquetball court to cover the cracked, uneven wall surface.

New members are welcome to the Evening Squash. The program runs quarterly through Trail Parks and Recreation and beginner workshops are offered each new session. For information, contact Trail recreation at 368.6484 or to book a court time, 364.0888.

Additionally, Teck has sponsored employees for Evening Squash through the company’s wellness program. For information, contact Mary Lynn Manwell at 364.7202.

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