The Terrace Racquets Association is opening a new squash court in Terrace this weekend, giving players a court space for the first time in nearly one year.
But more than that, the court will be open on weekends and later in the evenings — a thrilling change for players who have never had that option in town.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” said Steve Hawyes, a local squash player who spear-headed the opening of the new court. “It will give us so much more flexibility.”
Racquets association president Jill Pimlott agreed, saying having courts open seven days a week will make a huge difference for the club.
“People just want to play a game after work, or on a Saturday morning,” she said, and now they can.
For years, squash and wally ball players have only had the Northwest Community College courts to play on, which were closed weekends and by 8 p.m. most evenings due to college schedules.
And for the past year squash players have not had anywhere to play locally due to renovations at the college trades building, where the courts are located. They have had to travel to Kitimat or Prince Rupert to play.
And when the college building closed, the club didn’t even know whether courts would re-open at all. They were on the hunt for courts in town, even considering building some, when they came across an option at Summit Square Apartments.
The southside buildings had two old racquetball courts, which hadn’t been used in more than 25 years and were stuffed with junk.
When Hawyes and Graham Palmer heard about it, they began hatching plans to clean and fix up the space.
Framing a deal with Summit Square Apartments, they rallied roughly 20 volunteers from the racquets association to clean up and renovate the courts. Pimlott estimated 15 people joined the workbees.
“The real die-hard, ‘oh my gosh, I need to play squash, I can’t drive out to Kitimat’ folks were quite involved,” she laughed, noting the Hawyes family were definitely key players. (They were highly competitive squash players in South Africa before moving here two years ago.)
The renovations included a big cleanup and fresh paint, as well as construction of an attractive little viewing area to shorten the court to squash regulation-size.
Members hit the court for a soft-opening last Sunday, Jan. 21, but they’ll mark the official opening with a doubles tournament this Saturday, Jan. 27.
Aside from that, the courts will have an online booking system and will be open to members only.
That’s because of liability and for ease of management, since the courts won’t be staffed but will just have an access code or key for members.
Hawyes says drop ins will be allowed once or twice to try out the sport, but members will have unlimited access to book the courts.
The club hopes to expand into running regular training programs, hosting tournaments, and possibly running a league in the future.
For now they’re partnering with Centennial Christian School to offer training for students.
“We love it!” said Hawyes. “We’re passionate about the game, and we really believe squash is going to take off like it does in big cities,” he said. “You just need to have it managed and organized.”
The second court at Summit Square is still full of junk, and the club plans to tackle that this summer.
“We’re learning as we go along,” said Pimlott of court management and events.
“The majority of our members, we’re all friends, so people will let us know when we’re doing things right and when we’re not. We’ll do our best to change and grow as we go.”
For more, find Terrace Racquets Association on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Jill at 250-975-1213.