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City news, 14.10.2005 13:01

Local Enthusiasts Gather For Unique Squash Tournament

squash The 7th St. Petersburg Squash Open, the most prestigious squash tournament in Russia, is being held in St. Petersburg on Friday through Sunday.

During the three days of the tournament 75 participants from Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Belarus, Croatia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Finland and Ireland will compete at the Hypersquash Sporting club courts.

This year, 53 men, 10 women and 12 junior rackets will vie for the $3,000 prize. As an amateur tournament, the St. Petersburg Squash Open provides sportsmen of different levels with a good chance to practice and demonstrate their skills at the championship.

“It’s a real holiday for squash lovers,” Irina Poddubnaya, vice president of the Russian Squash Federation, said. “Unlike the tournaments abroad where the Olympic knock-out system is usually used from the beginning of the tournament, this championship gives every participant the opportunity to play several matches at the qualifying stage within a group.”

Besides amateurs, the St. Petersburg Squash Open also involves a group of eight professional squash players including Russian No. 1 Alexei Severinov.

Many competitors have already taken part in the previous St. Petersburg Squash Open championships.

David Sly, a Canadian sportsman who was the winner of the tournament last year, didn’t hesitate in coming back to St. Petersburg. Although it’s his fourth time in the city, he still enjoys it and is always happy to be here.

“I love to play squash and travel. This tournament is a good reason to come back to my favourite city,” Sly said.

Although squash only started developing in Russia about 10 years ago, Sly thinks that it has good prospects in the country.

“It’s the first generation of players in Russia now,” Sly said. “When children who take up squash now grow up they will have good instructors.”

The international success of Russian tennis players should positively influence Russian squash players, he said.

Sly distinguishes squash from tennis as a very social sport that different people feel free to play. He says that unlike celebrities among tennis players who just play their matches and then go home, squash players often go out together to discuss the tournament they have competed over a beer.

The St. Petersburg Squash Open is taking place at the Hypersquash Sporting club at the Pallada business center at 2 Krasnogvardeiskaya Ploshchad and entry is free.

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