Cavalier Corner

October 2017

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24 CAVALIER CORNER BY MIKE SCANDURA V IRGINIA SQUASH HEAD coach Mark Allen has a favor- ite analogy he imparts when discussing the newest varsity sport added by the university. "A good analogy is racquetball and squash are like checkers and chess," said Allen, who has coached UVA's men's and women's club teams since 2013 and also was the Boars Head Sports Club's squash director from 2013-17. "It's a very stra- tegic game and can be played at 80 miles an hour." Given the Cavaliers' success at the club level, in the opinion of fourth-year men's captain Mason Blake, UVA eventually — to use a chess metaphor — might attain the title of Grandmaster. "This season, I think we'll be much improved," Blake said. "It will be a ma- jor challenge to contest for the national championship. We'll be around the top 15 in the nation. "The trajectory is very high. Given UVA's reputation with academics and Mark being a great coach, we'll be a top- five program in about seven years." Last season, for example, the men's team compiled a 14-7 record and ranked 18th in the nation, while the women's team was 16-6 and ranked 13th. Under Allen's guidance, the men's and women's teams have consistently been ranked among the country's top 50, and both teams at one time were ranked No. 1 nationally during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. After the official addition of the team, UVA now has 14 women's varsity sports and 13 for men. Squash isn't sanctioned by the NCAA and instead is governed by the Collegiate Squash Association (CSA). Virginia is the first Power Five school (the group is made up of the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) to add men's squash, while Stanford is the only other Power Five program to have a women's squash team. "Varsity status wasn't promised [when he was hired], but I looked at what was be- ing built and was excited," said Allen, who was the 2005 U.S. National Squash Coach of the Year. "At the same time, I knew the facility was going to be put in place and the investment in the sport was bright and people were in it for the long haul." The facility to which Allen refers is the McArthur Squash Center at the Boars Head Club, which contains eight singles courts. UVA's Board of Directors ap- proved a $9 million expansion project that adds five singles courts, locker rooms, coaches' offices and a media room. With this number of courts, UVA eventually will be able to host national tournaments. STARTING FROM SCRATCH UVA's Board of Directors approved a $9 million expansion project at the McArthur Squash Center that will add five singles courts, locker rooms, coaches' offices and a media room, allowing the venue to host the national championships. PHOTO COURTESY UVA Virginia's Squash Program Is The Newest Varsity Sport

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