Squash will take over London this week as the 11th annual Nash Cup takes place.
The tournament aims to raise money to support squash organizations across Ontario. Originally created to raise funds for Western’s squash program, the event has since expanded to support a number of other organizations and programs across the province.
“One of our sponsors offered a sponsorship back in 2008 for a club event, and we had been running exhibition matches up until then but then decided we should try something different and what would happen if we put up a $5,000 purse on the pro level," said tournament founder Jay Nash. "Their response to that was far better than we ever hoped.”
The event runs for one week and includes a combined purse of $30,000 between the men’s and women’s categories. The women’s division was added to the tournament in 2013 and has remained part of the event ever since. Since 2008, the event has shown great growth, including 12 of the top 100 male players in the world and 14 of the top 100 female players.
The Nash Cup has a particularly strong relationship with Western’s squash team and legendary coach Jack Fairs.
“They had won 24 consecutive years, and we knew at some point there was going to be a change in leadership," said Nash, “When we saw the pro tour, we knew we could have four local spots, and exposing the new Western players and top Western players to competition that is so far above what they are used to seeing during the season. We thought that’ll be a good way to help Jack and the coaches show the [players] they have more to learn.”
A large percentage of the tournament's proceeds go towards the Jesters University Squash League, which supports university squash programs in Ontario.
“We also do fundraising throughout the week for the men’s and women’s programs at Western," said Nash. "So beyond the exposure on the court and the opportunity for Western to play and practice against some the world’s best players, we are now trying to help fund the teams as well.”
This will be the first official Professional Squash Association tournament for Western’s very own David Mill. Mill just finished competing for Canada at the World University Championships in England last week.
Mill will have the opportunity to compete alongside a number of the world's top squash players, including World Junior champion Mostafa Asal.
“We have the top junior player in the world coming; his name is Mostafa Asal," said Nash. "He’s from Egypt and he won the [championship] back in June. He's going to be something to watch. We also have three women who are under 19 and are very strong.”
The tournament will be available to stream, free of charge, on any computer or mobile device through nashcup.polyscore.ca/.
Correction (3:37 p.m., September 19): An earlier version of the story incorrectly named Jack Fairs as Jack Ferris. The Gazette deeply apologizes for this error.