A focus on women and girls, from those new to the game to those looking to challenge themselves at the highest level was key as Inverness Tennis and Squash Club were named Club of the Year at the Scottish Squash Annual Awards 2023.
In the last twelve months, the club started its Inverness Red Kites group for women and girls, leading to a huge increase in female participation.
During that same period, the club’s top female players won the National League – at the first time of asking – and competed at the European Club Championships in Paderborn.
Reflecting on an incredible year, Ailsa Polworth, Club Manager at ITSC said: “The success of the Red Kites and women’s squash in general has been a huge highlight for us this year.
“To have the team go and win the National League was a huge achievement, and it was perfect timing with the Red Kites too because it really showed that squash in Inverness is for everyone – from women starting something new to women that wanted to compete with other clubs.
The feelgood feeling at the club is noticeable, with a team of volunteers helping to drive the club’s success.
That was evident as the club hosted the Springfield Scottish Squash Open in September, for the second time, to huge acclaim from players and spectators alike.
Among those that have contributed to the success of the club is coach Malcolm McKay – who was nominated for the Coach of the Year award – dubbed an “encyclopaedia of squash” and a well-kent face in the Highland squash community.
Keen to recognise his contribution to the club, Ailsa said: “People at the club always say that what Malcolm doesn’t know about squash isn’t worth knowing.
“He played a big part in this award with his support for the Red Kites and the National League team.
“He just missed out on the Scottish Squash award, but some of the juniors at the club presented him with a little trophy that said he was their coach of the year, and we all recognise everything he does for squash at the club.”
In a global context of rising costs, 2023 has been challenging for sports clubs up and down the country, with ITSC no different.
Reflecting on the last year, Ailsa said: “It has been tough, we had to make the decision last year to increase membership prices by a bit more than we would normally just to combat the energy price rise.
“We’re looking at ways to be cleverer with costs, and our squash membership is on the up with a small increase in men and women, so we just need to concentrate on keeping that success going.”
The club is now in the running for the Club Sport Award at the Scottish Sport Awards 2023 – a further recognition of their success.
With a working party looking to the future of a club keen to keep innovating, the future looks bright for the Highland’s biggest squash club.