The U.S. Open is the most prestigious squash tournament in the United States and one of the most significant in the world. It is a major international display of supreme talent in squash, showcasing the top players from around the world, and bringing fanatical visitors from across the globe to witness elite competition.
The event forms part of the professional World Series tour for the Professional Squash Association (PSA). It is especially unique as it is one of only a few combined World Series stops for both Men and Women.
Starting in 1954, the U.S. Open has a tradition of intense competition in a dynamic atmosphere. It has previously been held in iconic locations such as Michigan Avenue and Millennium Park in Chicago and Symphony Hall in Boston.
Since 2011, the U.S. Open has been held in Philadelphia, at the heart of the squash community, where the Daskalakis Athletic center at Drexel University is transformed into a world-class showcase venue to host the prominent event.
The U.S. Open Squash Championship began on New Year’s Day, 1954, at the University Club of New York City, and literally changed the sport of squash overnight. The event, first run as a hardball tournament for the top amateur and professional players in the world, crowned its first champion, Henri Salaun, a French-American amateur player. At the end of the four-day event, Open director Ned Bigelow presented Salaun the $500 grand prize. Salaun’s victory over Hashim Khan in the finals graced the front pages of major newspapers, including the New York Times, the New York Herald Tribune, and the Washington Post, all of which were filled with photographs of the Open. New York was abuzz with the excitement.
The Open remained in New York for the next two years but, from 1957 to 1965, the event crisscrossed the country, quickly becoming a prominent tournament in the world of professional squash. It was hosted in Detroit, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Indianapolis, and Atlantic City, and returned to the University Club of New York in 1963, only to be shuttled off to Buffalo and then Wilmington the following years. During these early years, the Open was dominated by the presence of the Khan family. Hashim Khan won three titles between 1956 and 1963, while his relative, Roshan Khan, also won three titles in the same decade.
In 1966 the U.S. Open merged with the Canadian Open, forming the North American Open, which remained a hardball event. In the 1970s and 80s the Khans continued to overwhelm the squash scene. Sharif Khan made fifteen straight North American finals appearances from 1968 to 1982, winning twelve of those titles. All in all, the Khan family owns a combined twenty-nine U.S. Open and North American Open Championships. The U.S. Open was reborn, once again as a hardball event (while the North American Open ran separately), in 1983 when Howie Rosenthal promoted the event. Both the 1983 and 1984 U.S. Opens were held at the Yale Club of New York with American great Mark Talbott winning in 1983 and falling to Jahangir Khan in the 1984 final.
In 1985, Tom and Hazel Jones, who were managing the title at that time, made the decision to switch the event from a hardball to a softball tournament. Jones moved the Open out to San Francisco and was one of the first to experiment with the 17-inch tin and 15-point scoring format (which was later adopted world-wide for softball events in 1989), where the Open was received very well.
In 1986, Jones moved the Open to Houston, and the following year the venue was switched to the Palladium Night Club in New York City where a brand new, imported portable court from Europe was set up on the dance floor. The Open achieved enormous success that year and has continued to thrive amongst an eager American audience, where players from across the world, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Pakistan, and France have all claimed championships.
In the late 1990s, US SQUASH acquired the rights to the trademark and has been managing the championship into a world-class event ever since.