Feb 21, 2024 - Sports

World squash champs swing into Chicago for Windy City Open

men playing squash

Youssef Ibrahim of Egypt (left) and Paul Coll of New Zealand compete for the 2022 Windy City Open title in Cathedral Hall. Photo: Courtesy of the Professional Squash Association.

The world's top squash athletes are gathering in Chicago this week for the Windy City Open, celebrating its 40th anniversary.

The big picture: The Open and the squash World Championship — held here in even and odd years respectively — have turned our city into a mecca for the sport.

Why it matters: The Open offers a rare opportunity for Chicagoans to inexpensively watch world-class athletes compete up close — inside the University Club's ornate Cathedral Hall.

By the numbers: Chicago's Walter family (led by Mark and Kimbra Walter) funds a $500,000 purse for the Open and a $1 million prize for the World Championship.

  • Over the next eight days, 96 athletes will play dozens of matches culminating in the men's and women's finals on Feb. 28.

How it works: A squash match consists of five games that go up to 11 points.

  • Players earn one point — regardless of who serves — if their opponent fails to hit the ball before it bounces twice.

The intrigue: Though most squash champions hail from abroad, especially from Egypt, 16-year-old Chicagoan Ava Lin has drawn the women's wild card slot to play in the tournament.

What's ahead: Squash will make its Olympic debut in 2028.

If you go: Tickets start at $20.

squash court in cathedral
The glass court in Cathedral Hall at the University Club. Photo: Courtesy of the Professional Squash Association
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