By Kristi Maroc
The world’s first all-glass hardball doubles court was officially given the nod of approval by the world’s top players during the first-ever professional event to be held on the court and simultaneously live streamed to fans watching from afar.
The Elmaleh Classic invitational pro event was contested on the new court at the National Squash Academy (NSA) in Toronto, Canada, alongside the pro-am event (the Hogtown Rumble), drawing some of the biggest names in doubles including the World No. 1 team and recent World Doubles winners Ben Gould and Damien Mudge.
“The completion of the first glass doubles court in Toronto is very exciting for the SDA,” said Gould, who is also a board member of the Squash Doubles Association (SDA).
“Our ultimate goal is to fund and build a portable glass doubles court for the tour.”
“I dream of the day that we can set up a court and play alongside the largest Professional Squash Association events worldwide, with our matches streamed live on Squash TV. It’s ultimately what I want for the game, and the NSA court is the first huge step forward towards that dream.”
Initiative driver and Principal of the National Squash Academy (NSA), Gary Waite, says he was inspired to develop the new court to increase awareness and allow the opportunity for filming the game.
“I’ve personally been thinking of the idea of an all-glass doubles court for well over a decade,” said Waite.
“We really felt the next step was to film the game and see if we could film it properly.
“Singles has been making huge inroads with filming and doing a great job, and better and better networks want to carry it, so we really felt that doubles had at least as good an opportunity.
“It plays true. It plays arguably nicer than a regular court, and there’s a sense of space that you’re almost outside, you’re not confined.
“I know when I go and play on other courts now I feel a little bit confined, a little bit trapped. I just want to go outside, and I really feel like our court is very much outside.”
The court has been named after Waite’s close friend, avid supporter of squash doubles and former professional player Victor Elmaleh, who at 94 years old is still incredibly passionate about the game that he has played most of his life.
In 2001, at 81 years old, Elmaleh won the Heights Casino Pro-Am tournament in doubles in Brooklyn with Waite, then the top-ranked player in the world.
“I think he’s the greatest doubles player that I’ve ever seen,” said Elmaleh of Waite.
“I’ve been at it a long time, I’ve been playing since the 1950s. I love the game and I’ve tried to promote an interest in doubles.
It is relatively successful, not nearly as much as I would like it to be,” he added.
“I played singles when I first started until there was a doubles court available and then I started playing doubles. I’ve always been more interested in doubles.”
Elmaleh says that it’s flattering to have the court named after him.
“That’s nice of them to do that. It’s very hard to describe how you feel; I’m very flattered naturally. I seem to be getting a lot of compliments, and I don’t know how to absorb it,” he chuckled.
“I’m very pleased with the whole facility. Since I used to be an architect, I saw the possibility of sinking the court and creating a little amphitheater. You can watch on four sides, whereas ordinarily you’d watch only from the back.”
The official launch of the new Victor Elmaleh all-glass court and the professional and pro-am events attracted hundreds of spectators to the NSW on May 10 and 11.
The Elmaleh Classic was won by Mudge and Gould, who defeated Paul Price and Clive Leach in five games. The Hogtown Rumble was won by Imran Khan and Wil Mariani who defeated Matt Jensen and Graham Ryding in two games, in a best of three match.