It all started in the late eighties where the Penang Sports Club (PSC) squash group hosted a visit from the late Rex Guppy, a renowned UK Squash entrepreneur, who was here to promote his squash complex and courts in the UK. Rex Guppy founded clubkingswood in October 1967 and since then the club had grown and had gained top honours in the fitness health industry in UK. It was voted as “UK Health and Fitness Club of the Year” by the Fitness Industry Association in UK.
In response to the Americans “sabotaging” and changing the nature of squash with their Racquetball, Rex promoted this game of Racketball (RB) (note the difference in spelling) as the British answer of a version that uses same racket, different ball and played in a squash court instead of a racquetball court. The objective was then to promote the versatility of the squash courts for use in both squash and racketball.
The PSC pioneers who picked up this game after Rex Visit, namely ST Oh, Gitu Chakravarthy and Oh How Tat, continued to promote this game with whatever rackets that were procured from Singapore and balls from UK and Australia. As more squash members (aging ones) got hooked on the game, rackets were sourced directly from the US through regular travelers and on-line orders while balls were ordered on-line from UK.
The game eventually attracted enough players in Penang that the Squash Racket Association of Penang (SRAP) started to organize Racketball tournaments and leagues.
Since 2007, PSC took the initiative and challenge to promote this game beyond the state of Penang by organizing an annual invitational tournament for Masters (above 35 years)) with invites to other clubs in Malaysia and other international clubs. The rules used are aligned with the England Squash & Racketball – Racketball rules. The tournament typically attracts around 10-12 teams comprising 4 players per team. Beginning 2015, Royal Lake Club joined the fray to organize similar tournament in Kuala Lumpur offering different venue and playing format as part of a broader initiative to promote and increase awareness to the game. At the moment, the number of competitive RB players in Malaysia who participated in these events is around 50 players.
Effective 1st October 2016, RB will be rebranded as Squash57 in an initiative spearheaded by the World Squash Federation (WSF). The new name focuses on the size of the ball. RB uses a larger ball, which has a maximum diameter of 57mm (compared to 40mm for a squash ball). In countries like United Kingdom and Australia, the game is a popular introduction and alternative to the game of squash and allows generations of players that are still fit and active to keep playing well into their senior years, which otherwise, would have retired from playing squash or moved to other less demanding sports.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SQUASH AND SQUASH57
- Different type of rackets
- Squash57 rackets are shorter, with a maximum length of 22 inches. Squash rackets have a maximum length of 27 inches.
- Different type of balls
- A Squash ball is significantly smaller than a Squash57 ball (40mm versus 57mm). The Squash57 ball is bouncier.
- Different service rules
- Squash57 uses a drop serve where the ball, before being struck, shall be dropped or thrown on to the floor, without touching the wall.
- The Service Line in the squash court is not in used for Squash57 and the Server is given two service opportunities to serve a “good service” according to the rules. In Squash, a good serve must be over the Service Line and there is only one service opportunity given which means any service fault will be a lost point to the Server.
- Squash57 appeals to players who feel the game of Squash is too fast for them and does not allow for more rallies. Squash57 ball is bouncier and more difficult to “kill”, hence creating more rallies and providing a great aerobic workout for all ages. Squash57 is also easier to master for the beginner as compared to Squash due to the length of the racket, and can be used as an introductory game for juniors prior to them starting Squash.