Squash courts: although they seem to take up a third of Dodge, most Columbians will only ever set foot on them in search of a convertible workout space, or perhaps to attend a meeting for a club sport. However, there are a group of dedicated Columbians who traverse the courts all the time, and pretty well at that. Racquet-rocker Brit Byrd continues our Spotlight on Sports series with a guide to what squash is, and how it’s done.

First and foremost, know that Squash is not at all the same as the Hobbesian hyperspace that is Racquetball. As Walter says in The Big Lebowski, “This isn’t ‘Nam, … there are rules.”

The Court

Not this kind, silly!

The standard court is encased by four walls, one of which is the playing surface. This front wall has three lines: the highest one, at around five meters, is the upper limit of the playing surface. At no point can the ball be hit above this line. The bottom line on the front wall marks the top of the “tin,” a metal area that when struck makes a discernible noise, and is also out of bounds. In this way, the tin is somewhat analogous to the net in tennis. The middle line, as well as the lines on the floor of the court, are only relevant during serves.

The Objective

Akin to tennis, the main objective is to prevent the ball from bouncing twice on your volley, while keeping the ball in bounds. If a player fails to do so, their opponent scores a point.


Similar to volleyball, Squash has varying systems of keeping score. The older, more traditional system dictated that a player could only score on his or her own serve. If you have ever played against your dad, this is probably the system he tried to shove down your throat, claiming that it was more pure. Realizing that purity is boring, players began to adopt the “point-a-rally” (PAR) system, wherein the winner of a rally gets a point regardless of who served. Matches are played to 11, and the winner must always win by two.

Squash at Columbia

In only their second year as a varsity program, the men’s squad ended their season with an impressive run in the 2012 CSA National Team Championships, finishing second in the Hoehn Cup (B division) after falling 8-1 to Penn on Sunday. Entering the tournament with a 14th overall ranking, the runner-up finish capped off a successful season for the men, who earlier in the year enjoyed their first Ivy League triumph over Brown, and who continue to garner national respect.

The women’s squad, also in the nascent stages of building a varsity program, finished their season on a high note at the CSA National Championships, beating Mount Holyoke 6-3 to win the consolation final of the Kurtz Cup (B division) on Sunday. The win pushed the Lions up to a final No. 13 ranking. This season was a breakout year for Sophomore Katie Quan, who consistently posted some of the best results and who was voted co-captain by her teammates mid-season. Women’s Coach Kelsey Engman raved, “she leads by example.” Quan, for her part, paid homage to senior co-captain Liz Chu, who finished her collegiate career on Sunday. “The team is grateful for her leadership,” said Quan, “we’re definitely sad to see her go and wish her all the best.”

Painfully obvious pun via Wikimedia Commons