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About NSW Masters Squash

The following may be of interest, it is a brief history of Masters Squash here in NSW and for that matter, Australia.


The squash boom began in Australia in the early 1960s when private investors built small (2, 3 & 4 court) centres.  A waiting Australian generation who had been weaned on tennis took to the sport like ducks to water.

Within five years, our Australian team had beaten the previously dominant British, Pakistani, and Egyptian players, and legendary invincibles like Ken Hiscoe, Geoff Hunt, Dick Carter and Heather McKay became squash heroes.  Weekly pennant competitions flourished, and squash was rapidly becoming a major participant sport.

In the seventies the second boom took place with larger centres being built and the advent of glass back courts improved spectator viewing and created a better social atmosphere.  This attracted increasing numbers of women and junior players.  The Amateur Squash Associations established to administer the sport ran efficient pennant competitions, state and national championships and international tours but were considered poor entrepreneurs for new concepts.  As a result, individual Squash court owners began promoting and running weekend tournaments, which attracted players of all grades.  The Squash Court Owners Association of NSW also ran a variety of competitions including weekend metropolitan pennant competition supplementing those competitions already on offer.

Some involved could see the writing on the wall where younger players would outstrip the older players and therefore the concept was developed that would limit those younger players in competition until they, too, were constrained by aging bodies.


Following a visit to Brisbane, where Bert Barwick (co-proprietor of Erina Squash and Fitness Club) saw a tournament for a small number of older players at Jindalee squash centre.  Bert Barwick was involved in both the Australian and NSW Squash Court Owners Associations.  As a result, while the concept of Mature Age squash had been initiated at the Australian S.C.O.A, meeting in early 1979, determined the promotion was to be further developed by NSW S.C.O.A.  This was viewed as an important squash development.

For a number of years Erina Squash and Fitness Club had been staging The Sun Alliance Erina Easter Open, which many believed to be NSW's premier squash event.  The event had been fortunate in obtaining sponsorship from Sun Alliance Insurance Co., thanks to their manager Ron Ansell, who, when told of the Mature Age idea saw an opportunity and offered sponsorship for the movement not only in NSW but Australia wide with even some international involvement.  Ron was a squash enthusiast and apart from the welcome sponsorship, offered his administrative skills and facilities to help implement and develop the concept around Australia.

Accordingly it was decided to hold the first Mature Age Squash tournament (1979 NSW Mature Age Squash Championships) at the Erina Squash and Fitness club in November 1979 with events being divided into 5-year age bands commencing at Over 35 for men, and Over 30 for women.

Joe Dunnage introduced the triple Plate system, which he had been shown by New Zealanders, and this became the preferred knockout draw method which guaranteed players three matches at tournaments.

More than 80 participants entered the competition and the weekend was an outstanding success with intense but friendly competition and a unique social atmosphere for a squash event.

An inaugural meeting was held with fiery debate over one issue, the different age groups for men and women.  A rapid correction was arrived at due to a persuasive Nola Kadwell.  A steering committee was formed to introduce a NSW Mature Age Squash Association (which was shortly renamed NSW Masters Squash Association) with the object of promoting squash tournaments and competitions for players over 35yrs of age.  Competitions to be played in the finest sporting traditions without over-aggression was established.  A tournament circuit for 1980 was determined with initial tournaments to be held at Canberra (which kick started the ACT Masters Association) Newcastle, Tamworth, Lismore and Jannali.  All were greatly successful and the famous Saturday night dinner dances were born.

The “Steering Committee” appointed at the 1979 Erina tournament under Chairman Haydn Daly reported progress to the second meeting, held at the Canberra tournament (Deakin Squash Centre ACT) on Sunday 2nd March 1980, on developing a calendar for Mature Age Squash players.

At the meeting, Joe Dunnage moved, seconded Fred Green, NSW S C O A Mature Age Squash Association be formed.

The following persons were elected to hold office:-

Patrons: Ron Ansell, Bert Barwick, Senator John Knight and Barry Cohen M.H.A.
President Haydn Daly
Vice President Malcolm Buck
Secretary Terry Van Hassel
Assistant Secretary / Publicity Officer Joe Dunnage
Treasurer Fred Green
Registrar Mike Kadwell
General Committee Pauline Batho, Terry McKeon, Gerry Urwin, Phil Slaven, Flora Elliott and
Ron Simcock

Ron Ansell was able to contact influential people in all states of Australia and New Zealand and as a consequence “Masters Squash Associations” were formed in all states of Australia, much to the amazement of the established associations who had only managed to stage veteran's events at state championships with handfuls of competitors.

At the time, Masters Squash did not have a national association therefore the Australian Amateur Association ran Australian Masters events at the Australian Championships, firstly in Queensland on the Gold Coast and then in Adelaide, but there was a problem.  Masters participation was growing bigger than the rest of the Tournament so it was decided to form the Australian Masters Association and affiliate directly with the Australian Squash Rackets Association.  A steering committee comprising Haydn Daly and Joe Dunnage from NSW, Joe Shaw from Queensland and Edna Beech met at a secret motel location (perhaps setting the forerunner for many other secret motel assignations?) and developed a draft constitution, which took nearly two years of presenting and rewriting before Masters was accepted as an Associate Member of the Australian Squash Association.

Addendum: Ron Ansell passed away in 2006

Source :-
1) Haydn Daly – history of AMSA
2) NSW MSA Committee Minutes

If you are interested in the overall history of Squash, go to this link ( and read some interesting facts about our great game.


Squash players of all ages know that this game has great advantages.  We know that practicing physical activity, in addition to being of great benefit to ourselves, is a great role model for children and grandchildren.  It promotes family fun, provides for healthy living, helps create positive mental well-being and has the opportunity for establishing new and lasting friendships.

Why then, do many women stop playing squash often during their late forties?  With changing hormones and empty nests, this is certainly the time to stick with the game.

Women squash players would do well to look to Heather McKay and Barbara Cooper.  Heather McKay was undefeated in international competition for an astounding 19 years.  She took up squash to improve her fitness for field hockey.  A year later she won the Australian National Championship and retained the title for the next 14 years.  Barbara Cooper is the Pro at the Mayfair Lakeshore Club in Toronto.  Barb still maintains an extremely high fitness level, with dedicated off-court training, combined with competing in local and Canadian tournaments, both doubles and singles.  Another name that comes to mind is Heather Wallace, an icon in the women’s game.  These women are outstanding role models.  While we can’t all be international champions or dedicated squash pros, we could all do well to learn from them that we can play squash well past middle age.


The aim of Master’s squash is to keep mature age players playing squash.  The competition through national and provincial tournaments, regional leagues, house leagues and other social leagues are ways where all players can enjoy themselves on and off the court in a more competitive and social environment.

On the social level many clubs organize various social events including dinner, parties, etc., with participation from all levels of squash players.  Many players have become firm friends and socialize together away from the squash environment.  A strong bond exists amongst the Master’s squash fraternity and many close friendships are renewed annually when players meet.  Squash has a global reach and suits business travellers as well.


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