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#1 - Road to Paris Squash 2024

Here we go again

After a very successful inaugural event at the Palais de Tokyo last year, the Paris Squash will be back from September 15 to 21. This time, the best players in the world will be competing at the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione, and we can’t wait to be there.

When you run a yearly event, such as a squash tournament, the job is not finished once the last rally is over. The day after the ending of the Paris Squash 2023, the organizers rolled up their sleeves to take down the glass court which Egyptians Nour El Sherbini and Ali Farag had triumphed on a few hours earlier. “We must admit that the following weeks, we were exhausted!” say tournament director Philippe Signoret and his comrade Pierre Vauzelle, one of the most involved people within the Paris Squash Project (PSP) association led by Éric Nizard. “During the event, you’re running on fumes and fully focused on checking that nothing goes wrong, but when it’s all over there’s a big aftermath...” 

A few days ago, the Paris Squash Project team presented the 2024 tournament to the media at Front de Seine (Photo credit: Front de Seine)

When asked to look back on the 2023 event, the two friends swing between being satisfied and wanting more. “As far as we are concerned, we tend to see all the things that need to be improved, such as hospitality,” says Pierre Vauzelle. “On the other hand, we got a lot of very positive feedback, whether from players, spectators or media,” adds Philippe Signoret. “The satisfaction, you get it when you see people’s eyes shine watching matches. There was a sense of communion at the event. Of course, there’ve been great tournaments in France in recent years, first and foremost in Nantes. But I think there was some frustration among squash fans that we didn't have a Platinum one, and we responded to that frustration by gathering all the best players in the world in Paris. Besides, when we talk to the PSA we get the feeling it’s important for them to have a big tournament in Paris year in and year out.”

The crowd was very enthusiastic during the first edition of the Paris Squash tournament (Photo credit: Paris Squash Project)

On another note, the organizers believe that the Paris Squash can be a way of responding to the alleged decline of the sport in France. “Hiding from the truth is not what we do, there is not as much hype around squash that in the 80s,” concedes Philippe Signoret. “I hear some people saying, squash is done. Does that mean we should give up? Surely not, we need to do everything in our power to change the course of things. Some club owners told us that there was a momentum after the tournament and that the season has been the best one for a while in terms of attendance, such as Avon Fontainebleau and Montmartre, and that makes us very happy. I believe we’ve helped squash players be proud of their sport again.” From the start of the project, Éric Nizard and his team had pictured a first edition with the Eiffel Tower in the background, but not necessarily the following ones. “There were logistical issues to being outdoors, as well as significant costs related to the venue,” highlights Philippe Signoret. “There are a lot of other places in Paris, but you need an entry door (he laughs).” Next week, we’ll tell you all about the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione, which will host the Paris Squash 2024 from September 15 to 21.

The 2024 tournament will take place at the Cirque d’Hiver Bouglione, an iconic site of the French capital (Photo credit: Paris Squash Project)

The venue will not be the only new thing. Next season, the 48-player draws in Platinum events will be replaced with 32-player draws, to match what the Olympic format is likely to be in Los Angeles in 2028. As a result there will be fewer spots, especially for local players, nevertheless there are four wildcards available for the French contingent. Two of them have already been awarded to the promising Lauren Baltayan and Melvil Scianimanico, and the other two will go to the winners of the qualifying tournament which will be held from the 11th to the 13th of September at Squash Horizon for the men and Squash Montmartre for the women. Both clubs will be the two other venues to host first round matches, and from the second day onwards all matches will be played at the Cirque d’Hiver. Camille Serme, who recently announced her comeback to the PSA World Tour, will be the star of the show in these qualifiers.

Lauren Baltayan (on the right) has been awarded a wildcard in the main draw, while Camille Serme will try and win the qualifying event to join her (Photo credit: FFSquash)

With just under 3 months to go, there is obviously still work to do for the organizers, especially when it comes to securing new sponsors. “Some of our partners were already committed last year - Machefert, VHP, TTK or Annette K - while others have embarked in the adventure, such as Coface, Evole Énergies, Tailor Asset Management or Necker Finance. Most of them being business owners who play squash and have heard about us through our communications,” says Philippe Signoret. The media coverage, which was very thorough in 2023, is one of the reasons behind this. Nonetheless, the PSP team is working tirelessly to reach even more people. “After last year’s edition, a member of the team went kitesurfing in Brazil, and unexpectedly met a bunch of guys who play recreationally in Paris and were not aware of the tournament at all,” says Philippe Signoret. “Therefore our challenge is to reach out to this part of the squash community, and that can be achieved through communications.” 

Feel free to spread the word about the Paris Squash 2024! Tickets are available on the dedicated section of our website.

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