Some of the world’s most promising female squash stars will be descending upon Chorley over the next four days, hoping to be crowned the first CourtCare Open champion.
The competition – to be held at the David Lloyd Leisure Centre, in Whittle-le-Woods – is the brainchild of current world No.3 Laura Massaro, who hails from the town.
She has organised the event, which has a $10,000 purse, alongside her brother Chris Lengthorn, who is the lead coach of the North West of England Performance Programme.
The event is part of the Women’s Squash Association’s world tour, although it is not graded high enough to attract the world’s best – including Massaro herself.
However, the top seed is Britain’s Sarah Kippax, who is ranked 20 in the world, and every other player holds a ranking inside the world’s top 70.
Massaro said: “This week I have definitely got my promoter’s head on rather than my playing head on.
“It’s going to be a little bit different than what I’m normally used to doing.
“But I will be basically living down at the David Lloyd Leisure Centre over the next four days organising and co-ordinating the tournament.
“We’ve got some really good players coming like Sarah Kippax, who is the top seed.
“We’ve also got some young Eygptian girls, who are in the qualifying draw because they are so young. We’ll be looking to them to bring a bit of excitement and maybe cause a few upsets.
“The event is not really big enough for me to play in because of my ranking – it would probably damage my ranking.
“Players like Nicol David, who is the world No.1, only plays in gold standard tournaments with $50,000 prize money.
“But we’re looking to build the event up over the next two years and who knows...in a few years we might be able to attract some of the top names.”
Massaro’s inspiration for bringing top-level squash to Chorley is to show her appreciation to the leisure centre and its members for all the support she has received throughout her career.
She also wants to help aid the development of young players trying to make a name for themselves.
“I just wanted to give something back to the Tour,” she said.
“My motivation is to help some of the lower ranked players earn a little bit of money.
“And I wanted to bring some good quality squash to Chorley to give something back to David Lloyd’s and its members, who have always supported me.”
Massaro is also hoping to create a lasting legacy for squash in the area and, together with her brother, has been promoting the sport in schools over the past couple of months leading up to this week’s competition.
She said: “My brother has been looking after that side of things. But this week we have had 30 kids come down to play in a tournament – most of them have never played squash before.”
The competition gets under way today, with the final scheduled for 2pm on Sunday.
There will be evening and night sessions today and tomorrow, with free admission to spectators.
The afternoon sessions begin at 12.30pm while the evening sessions start at 6.30pm.
Entry at the weekend is by ticket only.