40th Windy City Open squash tournament kicks off at University Club of Chicago

ByRob Hughes WLS logo
Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Squash tournament kicks off in Downtown Chicago
What is squash sport? The 40th annual Windy City Open tournament for the popular racquet sport kicked off Wednesday in Downtown Chicago.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The 40th Windy City Open kicked off in downtown Chicago Wednesday afternoon.

The best squash players in the world took to the court at the University Club of Chicago.

The University Club of Chicago served as the backdrop for one of the biggest events in the sport of squash.

"It's just a magnificent venue," Windy City Open Tournament Director John Flanigan said. "You're not going to see elite sports at a venue like this typically."

A quarter-million dollars are on the line for each of the men and women competing, and 48 of the best players in the world are vying for one of the most lucrative prizes in the sport.

"The stakes keep going up, the spectator group keeps going up and the game is growing as well at the amateur level," Flanigan said.

According to U.S. Squash, more than 25 million people play worldwide. Squash has finally earned the nod from the International Olympic Committee, and the sport will make it's Olympic debut in the 2028 games in Los Angeles.

"The fact that it's going to be in LA in 2028 means more funding for the sport in almost every country," Flanigan said. "It raises the profile of the sport, it'll be on the world stage."

The top American on the men's side is Timothy Brownell, and he is quickly moving up the world rankings. He hopes to be at the Olympics.

"What a cool thing to have our sights on," Brownell said.

He moved forward Wednesday after a round-one win in his first appearance at the Windy City Open.

"This venue is amazing," Brownell said. "I've seen it on Squash TV before, but to be here the ceiling is a bit big. The glass is a bit bright, so obviously there are a lot of things to get used to at first but what a cool city to be in, and it's one of the biggest tournaments on the calendar."

The venue can squeeze in more than 250 spectators at Cathedral Hall, and for Wednesday night's matches of the Windy City Open, they are expecting a sellout crowd.

Information on how to but tickets and attend can be found on the Windy City Open website.