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Squash: not just for Muffy & Biff

Those of us who still harbor the image of squash as a fancy prep-school sport, one step down from polo, should take a look at the Wall Street Journal's recent article about the US Junior Squash Championships, held this weekend at Yale.

Under the headline "How Squash Got Serious," the Journal reports that "kids and parents [. . .] see the sport as a ticket to a top school":

At tournaments, parents pace about, dropping the names of Ivy League coaches and discussing the "academic index"—a calculation of grades and SAT scores that Ivy League admissions offices use for student athletes. Most players at high-level tournaments now arrive with private coaches—some of whom are former world champions who charge up to $25,000 a year per child. Those who can afford it ferry their kids to tournaments all over the country, send them to Europe in the summers for training and build private squash courts at their houses.

Competition is fierce, and recruiting is broad-based. "This past season, only one of the top nine men's players at Yale was an American," the Journal reports. As a result, students and parents have "unrealistic expectations" about their admissions prospects, Yale squash coach Dave Talbott tells the newspaper.

As you might expect, the high stakes sometimes bring out the worst in the young athletes. US Squash CEO Kevin Klipstein went out of his way to praise "the levels of sportsmanship" at this weekend's tournament. Better than you can say for some top-level college players.

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