Representatives from the World Squash Federation, US Squash and the University of Virginia Foundation officially declared the 2018 World Masters open during a special event Monday night at the Boar’s Head Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia.
More than 400 of the 755 competitors witnessed the ceremonial commencement of the twenty-fifth World Masters Squash Championships, the first World Masters ever held on U.S. soil.
World Squash Federation Vice President and former world No. 1 Sarah Fitz-Gerald welcomed the players from fifty-nine countries.
“I really want to thank everyone for playing in this event, including the former professionals who have entered,” Fitz-Gerald said. “Having the ex-pros in the draw adds so much to the event. As an ex professional, it’s great to catch up with people I used to be on the tour with, and I know many of them are here for all the right reasons, which are fun, social and catching up with friends. Squash can be secondary at times. Thanks to Mark Allen and his entire team, US Squash and the University of Virginia, they’ve done a magnificent job organizing this event. What an amazing venue this is.”
Fitz-Gerald, who won five world titles as a professional and three World Masters titles, will represent Australia as the women’s 45+ top seed this week.
“On behalf of the World Squash Federation, I hope you all have such a wonderful week making new friends and catching up with old friends,” Fitz-Gerald said. “Have fun, good luck and may your bodies hold out until the end of the Championships.”
Dent Wilkens, US Squash Vice President and 35+ participant, and Tim Rose, Chief Executive Officer of the University of Virginia Foundation followed Fitz-Gerald’s remarks.
“Welcome everyone to the United States, we are so excited to host this event for the first time and all of you from around the world,” Wilkens said. “At US Squash we strive to foster community and build lifelong, positive engagement in the sport. There is no event that comes as close to epitomizing those ideals as the World Masters.”
The McArthur Squash Center was built five years ago and has already hosted three U.S. Championships from 2014-2016. The Boar’s Head Resort is owned and operated by the University of Virginia Foundation.
“I want to welcome you to Charlottesville, Boar’s Head and the University of Virginia,” Rose said. “I’ve been talking with the staff about what the vibe is with this group, because you guys are on fire, it’s really fun seeing you all interact—the conversations and the relationships. It’s obvious that this is a sport of relationships and having fun. We are so happy to be your host.”
While Monday marked the ceremonial commencement, it also saw the second day of match play on the McArthur Center’s fourteen courts. Four men’s divisions with 128-player draws played out the first round on Sunday, with all men’s divisions joining the fold on Monday. All nineteen divisions are involved on Tuesday as match play starts from 9am EDT at both the McArthur Squash Center and satellite venue, St. Anne’s-Belfield School.