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Squash

Updated on March 1, 2012

Squash is the name of two indoor racquet sports, squash racquets and squash tennis.

Usually the term "squash" refers to squash racquets.

Squash racquets is played in a rectangular court by two or four players using a racquet similar in appearance to a badminton racquet but more sturdily constructed and strung with heavy gut. A hollow ball made of hard rubber is used.

Squash tennis is a related sport using the same court and scoring system but employing a modified tennis racquet and a livelier ball.

Squash Racquets

Singles, in which two players compete, is played in a court 32 by 18.5 feet (9.7 by 5.5 meters). A line marks the playing-height limit on the front and side walls. There is a line parallel to the back wall and 10 feet (3 meters) from it marking the floor into two areas, with an additional line dividing the rear part into equal sections for receiving serves. Across the front wall is a service line at 6.5 feet (2 meters) and a "tell-tale" or " tin" that extends 17 inches (43 cm) up from the floor.

Doubles is played on a larger court, 25 by 45 feet (7.6 by 13.7 meters). Teams of two players each alternate in striking the ball, and the scoring is the same as in singles. Women's play uses men's rules, and some mixed-doubles matches are played.

Singles play commences when one player, standing in a service box, hits the ball directly to the front wall above the service line, causing the ball to bounce on the floor in the opposite rear part of the court. A ball in play may be volleyed -hit before it bounces on the floor- or struck after it bounces once on the floor. A ball may hit the side or rear walls before or after bouncing, and a return may h it the rear or side walls as long as it strikes the front wall before bouncing on the floor. A ball touching the telltale or any out-of-court line results in a lost point for the striker, as does failure to make a good return. A player must give an opponent a fair chance to get to the ball. Inadvertent interference with an opponent brings a "let," and the point is replayed.

The winner of a point serves again, alternating service sides if he wins consecutive points. The first server of a match is determined by a spin or toss of the racquet. Thereafter, the winner of each game may choose to serve or receive. It usually takes 15 points to win a game. If a game is tied at 13-all or 14-all, there is a tie-breaker system, with 18 to 17 being the longest possible game. Most matches are the best of five games.

The players try to work each other out of position and to put the ball beyond reach of a return by moving the b all around the court using the walls to angle shots- and by varying the speed of each shot- using slices, chops, and top spin. Most strokes are drives parallel to the side walls or cross-court to a corner.

History of Squash

Squash racquets was introduced into the United States in the late 1800's, evolving from the British game, played widely throughout the British Empire. The larger British court and much spongier ball, unsuited to the cooler North American climate, were modified, as was the British scoring system, which has a nine-point game with only the server scoring.

Annual championships are held in singles and doubles at various age levels. The North American Open brings together the best amateurs and professionals.

Squash Tennis

Squash tennis was developed in the United States. Tennis players introduced a pressurized, tennis-type ball and a racquet an inch shorter than in tennis. The game uses squash-racquets scoring and the squash court. The two sports differ in the speed and bounciness of the ball.

The squash ball can be "dropped" with soft shots, but the squash-tennis ball rockets around the court, demanding fast reflexes and turning ability. The squash-racquets player moves to the ball, whereas the squash-tennis player finds the ball shooting toward him.

Squash tennis was very popular from the 1880's until World War II, when balls became unobtainable because of a shortage of materials.

The sport has died out except in New York City, where it is played at a few clubs that have attempted to revive interest in it.

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