District Spotlight Pittsburgh

Squash in Pittsburgh? You’re probably thinking, sure, don’t they play with wooden racquets, wear racquetball gloves, Converse All-Stars and tinted goggles?

While many players in the Burgh are not afraid to break out a racquetball shot in a pinch, we’re a dedicated community of more than 300 athletes and Pittsburgh’s squash scene is blossoming. We’re privileged to have 25 singles courts and two doubles courts in town, in seven athletic clubs and three schools, all in great demand.

(L-R) Dave Kodrin (Pittsburgh Squash Past President), Amy Gillezeau (Girls U-19 Winner), Rosemary O’Connor (Girls U-19 Finalist), Lafe Metz (Pittsburgh Squash President)
(L-R) Dave Kodrin (Pittsburgh Squash Past President), Amy Gillezeau (Girls U-19 Winner), Rosemary O’Connor (Girls U-19 Finalist), Lafe Metz (Pittsburgh Squash President)

Starting every October, about 100 players participate in Pittsburgh Squash’s two team leagues—an A/B league and a C league—culminating in playoffs and a championship match in March. We have former college squash players from Harvard, Princeton, and Yale and a lot of great athletes who played college basketball, baseball, or football, and later fell in love with squash.

Pittsburgh Squash also launched a Box League almost four years ago, in which 60-70 players regularly compete. This has been a great way to introduce our beginning and intermediate players to competitive play and strengthen the community by helping players find matches with new opponents at their skill level.

We run two singles tournaments each season, one in the fall and one in the spring. We’ve enjoyed hosting players from Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Chatauqua, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Harrisburg, Morgantown, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In recent events, we’ve been fortunate to compete against Seif and Ali Eleinen from Egypt, Rod and Connie Barnes (and their kids Jacqueline and Jeremy) from Bethesda, and Will Carlin from NYC, and look forward to seeing them all back in Pittsburgh soon.

Pittsburgh also has a vibrant doubles community that sponsors a number of annual tournaments, including the Grum Cup and the Pittsburgh Doubles Invitational. Last year, Taylor Abbett organized the inaugural Pittsburgh Open men’s professional doubles tournament, which we hope will be bigger and better this year.

We always enjoy seeing young players develop and grow to love the game. With three international singles courts, local prep school Shadyside Academy is the hub of Pittsburgh junior squash and participates in a host of junior tournaments and matches under the guidance of Coach Mike Smith. Recently, we’ve been thrilled to watch the great strides made by local player Alex Reynolds, currently ranked 9th in the nation in Boys Under 17. His younger brother Andrew has all the makings of a squash prodigy too. And Amy Gillezeau has energized girl’s squash in Pittsburgh, since arriving from Trinidad where she is the reigning Girls Under 19 National Champion.

On the horizon for Pittsburgh Squash? We’re taking the first steps to explore organizing an urban youth squash program, in the proud tradition of SquashSmarts and StreetSquash. Our own Beth Fedorowich, an exceptional women’s player who will spend the fall trying to qualify for the pro women’s doubles tour, is spearheading the urban youth squash initiative. We’re also considering reviving the Pittsburgh Open, a pro singles event that ran for many years in the 90s and earlier this decade, and contemplating a pro women’s doubles tournament.

No discussion of Pittsburgh Squash would be complete without recognizing Duilio Costa, our local pro, who has introduced hundreds, perhaps thousands, of local players to the game, sharing his passion for the sport and nurturing Pittsburgh Squash for more than 20 years.