2019 AGM

I’d like to start by acknowledging the SSRA Board who continue to volunteer their time to promote and support squash in our region. It isn’t always easy being on a committee, but I hope overall the impact we help to create in our squash community makes it worth it, and I thank them sincerely for their enduring efforts.

Winter League
This past season, we had 6 teams in Div 1, 10 teams in Division 2 and 6 teams in Division 3. A new women’s division was created which fielded 6 multi-level teams for a combined total of 28 teams and over 180 players. This represents year-over-year growth of 5 teams for our Winter league and it’s certainly great to see the continued support of squash players in our region. 

I’d like to congratulate the winner from this season:

  • Division I: Team Sedky
  • Division II: Butternuts
  • Division III: U Double Dots
  • Women's Division: Toast 'n Boast

I’d also like to express sincere gratitude to the clubs that participated in the league: PRO Club, Seattle Athletic Club (Downtown and Northgate); Washington Athletic Club; University of Washington; and Columbia Athletic Club. We very much look forward to their continued support and hope that we can field new teams from other clubs that weren’t able to participate this past season.

We also need to acknowledge the efforts of Imran Aziz, the league coordinator for the past season. It can be a tough job and overall the league ran very smoothly. Thank you, Imran. I’d also like to acknowledge Brandi Conforth for her help in creating our league t-shirts, and the others on the board who supported the league throughout the season.

Summer League
This year we were able to run our third Summer League, something that I hope will remain on the calendar for many years to come. As usual, we fielded 8 teams that were formed based on ratings, rather than club affiliation. All teams played out of the same venue each week, alternating between SAC and PRO Club. This year, Team Garg (captained by Naveen Garg) narrowly won the league, being tied on matches, but ahead on games. Congratulations to them for coming out on top. 

Again, I’d like to thank the clubs for their support, Karen Arango for helping to manage the league, and Brandi Conforth for designing and organizing the league t-shirts. A big thank you to Eric Williams as well for helping with the finals, getting all of the food and drinks coordinated!

Yusuf Khan
Sadly, this year we did lose Seattle’s Father of Squash Yusuf Khan, who was laid to rest in October (2018). Without Yusef, it’s likely we wouldn’t be sitting here now without his commitment to growing squash in the region, and he leaves behind a legacy that we all should be grateful for and committed to continue to nurture and grow. While I only knew him for a short while, I think we can all relate to his big smile and booming voice when he saw you walking past. “How are you young man?”, he would typically say to me. I hope the SSRA will find a way to honor Yusef, in our own way, so that the impact he made on squash in our region will be recognized for many years to come. I’m attaching his official obituary to this report and may Yusef rest in peace. 

We also lost squash league warrior Alan Michael after a courageous battle with cancer, and our squash community remembered him at the Seattle Athletic Club in May. May he also rest in peace.

Women’s Squash in Seattle
Seattle Squash started a women’s program this year, with approximately 31 women participating, of all levels. The program started in October, with players represented from Habor Square, PRO Club, Northgate and Seattle Athletic Club Downtown. In the fall, the program focused on teaching rules to new players, how to referee and introduction to match play. In addition, they formed a team competition as part of our Winter League, with 6 multi-level teams and 5 playing positions. Thank you to Karen Arango for her love for the game and continued hard work to make this program possible. 

Tournaments
This year in February, the Seattle Athletic Club hosted an exhibition event with Ramy Ashour, Amr Shabana, Miguel Rodriguez and Paul Coll. This coincided with the Seattle Open Pro event (of which the SSRA was a sponsor), as well as the regular Seattle Open. It was a fantastic event all around, and special thanks to Tatu, Annelize and the team at SAC for their dedication to squash to facilitate this, and for all they do to help squash in our region. 

In August 2019, YSK Events also hosted the newly named Yusuf Khan Invitational, presented by PMI and Dave Cutler. This year, we had 6 men and 6 women, including our local Reeham Sedky, competing over 5 nights. The SSRA bought and raffled tickets to this event and it was great to see some incredible squash and large crowds each night. Jahangir Khan attended the event all week, and gave a moving tribute to his close friend Yusef Khan. Rob Harris (from PMI) and Dave Cutler also made a commitment to support the event for three more years, so we can look forward to more top level squash in Bellevue for many more years!

PRO Club also hosted the 3 person teams event in January, always a fun event and lots of squash over a 2-day tournament. I believe it’s already on the calendar for next year and I’d encourage everyone to play!

In May, the SSRA also held a 1-day Invitational Individual League Tournament, which let each Winter league team choose a player from the team to represent them. This was free for our members, and was a fun twist on a regular multi-day tournament. Thank you to Fawad Abbas and Therese Tuppeny for their help in organizing this event. [winner?]

In addition, here were some other highlights:

  • In September (2018) Women’s Squash Week events were held at both SAC and PRO Club.
  • We again had Seattle teams compete in the Howe Cup women’s tournament, and we’re excited to see this event come to Seattle to 2019.
  • We held free referee clinics at Seattle Athletic Club (Northgate and Downtown) and PRO Club.

End of Year Party
This year, we held our end of year party in conjunction with our Invitational Individual League Tournament. As always, we gave out our end of year awards to recognize those individuals who have made a special contribution to squash. They were: 

  • Player of the Year Award: Zane McGee
  • Most Improved: Abhi Redihoop
  • Service Award: Steve Jamieson
  • Sportsmanship Award: Rayhan Khanna

Thanks to those as well who helped to organize the end year party, and for SAC for hosting us on the night.

The Year Ahead
This coming season is already looking to be very busy on the squash courts! The SSRA will be hosting the Washington State Open in October. We’ll of course be running the Winter League, and there are many events planned already for the new year. 

I’d like to again thank the members of the board for volunteering their time for our cause. But most importantly, I want to finish by thanking our community for getting on court, playing squash and ensuring that squash continues to have a bright future in our region. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions and we look forward to another great season ahead.

Henry Weber

 

Yusuf Khan Obituary
Yusuf Khan of Seattle was laid to rest on Saturday, October 13, 2018. He leaves behind a large loving family and an immense footprint in the US squash community, particularly in the Pacific Northwest. His contribution to squash in the USA was ground-breaking, deep rooted, and massive.

From humble origins in India, Yusuf was always a visionary - a barefoot ball boy who became a ten consecutive year East India Champion in both squash and tennis (1958-1968). His athletic accomplishments are too many to list and include a #3 world ranking in squash and the prestigious tennis degree of British Certified LTA Coach. In 1968, Yusuf's skills drew attention from the then-Seattle Tennis Club coach, who offered him a position, and he moved his family to Seattle with hopes of a better education for the children.

Yusuf's children were coached by him and eventually taught with him, expanding his impact to younger generations and to a growing number of women players. Two daughters reigned as US champions for years, and Yusuf catapulted women's squash into the limelight by hosting the first Women's World Championships on US soil in 1999. Nearly a decade and a half later, he encouraged his family, spearheaded by daughter Shabana, to carry the torch by bringing the Men's World Championships to Bellevue in 2015.

An avid promoter of his sport, Yusuf ensured that the Northwest squash community enjoyed a staple of tournaments and exhibitions previously reserved for East Coast audiences - notably, the US Open, SL Green US Nationals, US Junior Open, Women's World Squash Championships, Howe Cup, among others. His venues, The Seattle Tennis Club, Tennis World, Seattle Racquets Club, Central Park, SAC, Bellevue Club, and The Pro Sports Club were all beneficiaries of the magical influence of Yusuf.

Thank you, Yusuf, for your pioneering contribution. Squash would scarcely exist in the Northwest without you. The important moments - tournaments and big matches - will never be the same without your watchful presence.

Yusuf was a devoted family man and maintained many close friendships around the world. He will be greatly missed.




2018 AGM

President’s Report, 2018
Seattle Squash Racquets Association

I’d like to start my report by acknowledging the SSRA Board and their continued support and enthusiasm in helping squash not only survive, but thrive in our region.

Winter League
This past season, we had 7 teams in Division 1, 10 teams in Division 2 and 6 teams in Division 3, for a total of 23 teams. This is one more team than in the previous season and the season ran smoothly with lots of terrific competitive play.

I’d like to congratulate the winners from this season:

  • Team Sedky in Division 1, captained by Khaled Sedky
  • Team Nemesis in Division 2, captained by Imran Aziz
  • Team Make Squash Great Again II, captained by Brandi Conforth

I’d also like to express sincere gratitude to the clubs that participated in the league: Columbia Athletic Club; PRO Sports Club; Seattle Athletic Club; University of Washington and the Washington Athletic Club. We very much look forward to their continued support and hope that we can field new teams from clubs that weren’t able to participate this past season.

As the league administrator this past season, I’d like to personally acknowledge Karen Arango and Imran Aziz for their assistance in helping to run the league, in addition to Steve Jamieson and Eric Williams for their help with the finals party and Brandi Conforth and Greg Menikoff for designing and ordering the t-shirts.

For this coming season, Imran Aziz will be taking over administration for the league, and I would like to thank him for taking on this important role.

Summer League
This past year we also hosted our second Summer League. We had similar participation to the 1st year, despite a slight increase in fees. We again constructed 8 teams that were formed based on ratings rather than club affiliation and were able to schedule all teams to play out of the same venue each week. I believe the general feedback to this short-season format has been very positive and I’d like to congratulate Frightning Fawad’s team (captained by Fawad Abbas) for winning the league. I’d also again like to acknowledge the PRO Club and Seattle Athletic Club for their support in hosting the league fixtures.

I very much hope we can continue to run the Summer League next year!

Tournaments
In tournaments this year, we’ve seen the Seattle Open run in January. Pro Club hosted the West Coast 3 Person Teams event in January. Seattle Athletic Club hosted the SAC Squash Softball Doubles Open in March and the Washington State Open is due to run later in the year at the Seattle Athletic Club.

We are yet to run the Seattle City Championships event and this would unfortunately mark the second year that we’ve been unable to run this event if we cannot find a suitable date and venue.

This year we had 10 people from our squash community travel to Charlottesville, Virginia to compete in the World Masters tournament (the 1st time this event has been held in the United States). They were among 755 participants from around the world and the SSRA was proud to support the players from our region in this event. Hopefully we’ll see even more players from Seattle compete at the next World Masters in Poland 2020.

Finally, this past year Seattle was represented by a record breaking 5 teams at the A, B and C levels at the 2017 Howe Cup, held in Washington DC. The Seattle teams reportedly had a great time both on and off the courts and the SSRA looks forward to continuing to support this important event.

End of Season Awards and Party
Our annual awards party this year was hosted at the Seattle Athletic Club. We started the event with a “King of the Courts”-style competition, followed by a lightening round event. After that, we enjoyed some food and drinks and presented our awards. I’d like to congratulate the following recipients:

  • Dick Daly Service Award: Kate Frost
  • SSRA Player of the Year Award: Rehan Luthra
  • SSRA Most Improved Player Award: Dan Amrhein
  • Brenda Wilcox Sportsmanship Award: Team Northgate, Division 2.

Thank you to Imran Aziz, Eric Williams, Annelize Naude and Tatu Murronmaa for their efforts in running this event!

PMI Dave Cutler Bellevue Invitational Tournament
In August 2018, YSK Events hosted the PMI Dave Cutler Bellevue Invitational Tournament. This again brought back world class players to our region, including Ramy Ashour (ret.), Greg Gaultier, Ali Farag, James Willstrop and Tarek Momen, but very importantly included a women’s division as well with Raneem El Welily, Nour El Tayeb, Camille Serme, Joelle King and Reeham Sedky.

The SSRA supported this event through raffling off tickets, but I’d more generally like to thank our community for their support. The crowds were strong every night and we really are incredibly lucky to see events of this caliber in our relatively small squash community each year. On behalf of the community, I’d like to thank Shabana, Murad and the extended Khan family for their tireless support and efforts in staging these world class events. We are very much hopeful to see another event in 2019!

Our Board and the Year Ahead
The coming season holds a lot of promise for squash. Karen Arango has initiated an SSRA Women’s Squash League that will be held over the fall and winter months and we very much hope this will give women squash players a chance to play competitive squash in a friendly atmosphere, especially those who might not otherwise play in our open league.

I would mention that I believe it’s important that we uphold the traditions of our organization, and in particular that we find a way to ensure that we run the Seattle City Championships each year. While running a tournament takes a lot of time, commitment and coordination, this event has significant history in our community and I believe it should be a priority of the SSRA to ensure that it runs each year.

As a board, we’ve required that each committee member hold specific responsibilities and we’ll be holding a planning session in the coming weeks where we’ll prioritize and assign responsibilities for the year ahead with new board after the AGM. A few short-term priorities though will include supporting Imran Aziz in preparing the upcoming league season and I hope we we can modernize and remove the gender bias that exists in our current Bylaws. In addition at our upcoming planning session, I’d also like to take time to discuss our longer-term vision for the SSRA.

I’d like to again thank the members of the board for volunteering their time for our cause. I believe we’re collectively a strong representation of our squash community. But most importantly, I want to finish by thanking our community for getting on court, playing squash and ensuring that squash continues to have a bright future in our region.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions and we look forward to another great season ahead.

Sincerely,

Henry Weber
President




2017 AGM

President’s Report, 2017
Seattle Squash Racquets Association

I’d like to begin my report, my first as President of the SSRA, by acknowledging my predecessor, Greg Menikoff. Greg has served our squash community for many years and I think I speak for all of us in saying how grateful we are for his contribution to our sport. I’m personally thankful to him for the time he has given me, helping me learn the ropes, answer questions, and for helping to moderate some lively discussions at board meetings. I very much hope Greg will continue to serve on our board in the years ahead. Thank you, Greg. 

I’d like to also acknowledge the SSRA Board and their commitment to supporting and promoting squash in our region. All of them donate their time graciously and I really do thank them all for their efforts. This year Jim Jean-Francois, Karen Arango and Imran Aziz were voted on to the board, and I’d like to thank them for choosing to volunteer their time for our organization.

I’d like to run through a few main events of the past year and talk about the year ahead.

Winter League

This past season, we had 6 Division 1 teams, 10 Division 2 teams and 6 Division 3 teams, for a total of 22 teams and 181 players (which includes spares). For the most part, the league ran very smoothly, culminating in a social finals night held at the Seattle Athletic Club. Our winners for this year were:

  • Team Prince in Division 1, captained by Jay Price.
  • Team Unsquashables in Division 2, captained by Axel Luft
  • Team Make Squash Great Again in Division 3, captained by Mauricio Verna

Congratulations to them!

I’d also like to especially thank the clubs for their continued support of our league. This year Pro Club graciously allowed our league to play on Tuesday nights again and I’d like to thank Azam Khan for his help in making this happen. Thank you also to the other clubs who participated, including Seattle Athletic Club (downtown and North Gate), Columbia Athletic Club, Harbor Square, University of Washington and the Washington Athletic Club.

Seattle Athletic Club

This year has been an exciting one for the Seattle Athletic Club, most notably with the arrival of Tatu Murronmaa and Annelize Naude as the new coaches. I’ve had the pleasure of working with both of them throughout the year and it goes without saying how much love they clearly have for squash. It certainty seems like they’ve energized squash at the Seattle Athletic Club and we are thrilled to welcome them in to our community. 

The Seattle Athletic Club this year also bought and built a new convertible singles/doubles glass squash court. It’s great to see the club invest substantially in squash and I very much hope the SSRA can continue supporting squash at the Seattle Athletic Club.

PRO Club

This year has also been another incredible year for the PRO Club, who through the Khan family, continue to make an tremendous impact on the squash scene. In October 2016, they ran a clinic and exhibition featuring Greg Gaultier and Miguel Rodriguez. And in May, they hosted the PMI Bellevue Classic (a PSA event), which had the highest prize purse of any squash tournament in history for a 16 person draw. This was after they ran the 2015 World Squash Championships, and I think it goes without saying how lucky we are to have such incredibly high caliber squash in our relatively small squash playing community. 

The SSRA played its part in contributing to the Bellevue Classic by purchasing tickets and giving them away as prizes, in addition to promoting the event to its member base. I sincerely congratulate Shabana, Murad and the entire Khan family for their incredible efforts in running this event and for continuing to devote their lives to our sport.

I’d also like to congratulate Shabana on receiving the 2016 Brauns Award at the US Open, an acknowledgement of her outstanding contribution to the administration of Squash.

Annual Awards Party

Our annual awards party this year was a great success. It started with a fun 2 hours of squash, playing a “King of the Courts” style competition, followed by a lightening round. After that, we headed to Pike Brewery for food, drinks and our award presentations. I’d like to congratulate the winners of our awards, as follows:

  • Dick Daly Service Award: Michael Bishop
  • SSRA Player of the Year Award: Laila Sedky
  • SSRA Most Improved Player Award: Ben Vicouna
  • Brenda Wilcox Sportsmanship Award: Team Nemesis

I’d also especially like to thank Karen Arango and Imran Aziz for organizing the event.

Summer League

This year we also hosted our first ever Summer League! We had 40 regular players plus spares, which created 8 teams based on rankings, rather than club affiliation. The matches ran over a 7 round season, with one final round. Overall the feedback seems to have been very positive. I’d like to congratulate Team Butt (captained by Sherry Butt) for winning the league. Each of those team members received a free squash lesson from the coach of their choice, paid for by the SSRA.

We very much hope to continue the Summer League next year.

Tournaments

In tournaments this year, we’ve seen the Seattle Open run in January. The Washington State Open ran recently in August at the Seattle Athletic Club. We’re yet to run the Seattle City Championships, but we very much hope to run this event if at all possible.

Our Board and The Year Ahead

I am incredibly optimistic about the year ahead. The SSRA board recently held a planning session where we discussed our role, objectives, finances and goals for the year ahead. We’ll be using the great discussions we had at this meeting to help us make 2017/18 another great year for squash in our region.

Administratively, we’ve also made headway on ensuring our records are preserved for years to come. Unfortunately it appears some of our history has been lost, but moving forwards we’ve put measures in place to archive information on our shared drive. In the past year, we’ve also made a lot of effort to update our website at seattlesquash.com with all current records, photos, news and events. In addition to our website being kept up to date, we have our regular newsletter now being maintained by Karen Arango, and I’d like to thank her for her efforts in this regard. We are also updating our social media accounts on a regular basis. We hope the SSRA community are enjoying these updates.

For the year ahead, we, as a board, are going to encourage greater participation in tournaments, allow for as many people as possible to play in to our leagues, hold more social squash events and functions, support our juniors and coaches, and promote squash as best we can throughout the region.

Summary

Overall, we’re in a great place. As an organization, we remain financially stable and I know our current Board of Trustees are all committed to making this game we love continue to thrive in our region. We always welcome your comments and suggestions, and look forward to seeing you all on the court soon.

Sincerely,

Henry Weber
President
Seattle Squash Racquets Association