SQUASH is undergoing a national revival and it is only a matter of time before Ipswich catches on.
For the first time in decades, new courts are being built across Australia instead of being replaced by apartments, car parks, gymnasiums and shopping centres.
"There's definitely a revival," says triple world champion Michelle Martin.
"Ten centres went up around Australia last year and there's more on the horizon."
Squash Australia is delighted to report that dozens of courts are going up in Darwin, Townsville, Bowen, Innisfail, the Barossa Valley, western Sydney, Port Headland, the Mornington Peninsula, the Gold Coast for the 2018 Commonwealth Games and elsewhere.
"The sport is entering a new era where most courts will no longer be housed in stand-alone centres, but rather in multi-sport complexes run by local councils and not-for-profit organisations," SA boss Gary O'Donnell said.
"We may never get back to the number of courts we had in the 70s and 80s, but we believe the downward trend has at least been halted."
Squash Australia media liaison Andrew Dent is unsure about the number of adults playing squash in Ipswich, but he knows the sport is enjoying a renaissance amongst youngsters, thanks to the junior program at Healthworks Fitness Centre, Brassall he helped set up.
"It's certainly growing," Dent said.
"We can't expand the program any more because we haven't got enough equipment.
"We'd need to get some sponsorship to buy new equipment and get another professional coach."
Currently, professional coach Robyn Prentice has a squad of 15 under her care.
If and when they do get another coach, Dent has no doubt the numbers will grow, such is the enthusiasm of those already involved.
"We've kept all our juniors and have 15 kids come every week," Dent said.
"The youngest is seven and the oldest 13."
The fruits of the program are now being reaped with Ipswich's Kaitlyn Morris winning the Rod Eyles under-13 squash tournament Palm Beach, on the Gold Coast on December 10-11, while nine-year-old Andrew Cook finishing runner-up in his division.
"It had definitely been declining over the years but I think it has bottomed out," Dent said of squash's popularity.
"People realise you can burn more calories playing squash than any other sport."
Leading US business magazine, Forbes, in 2010 declared squash the healthiest sport of all.
Forbes asked fitness experts to score a selection of sports in four areas - cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility, and also incorporated scoring on calories burned and injury risk. Squash won.
- Rowing and rock climbing
- Cross-country skiing
NB: In 2010, Forbes asked fitness experts to score a selection of sports in four areas - cardiorespiratory endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance and flexibility, and also incorporated scoring on calories burned and injury risk.