Thriving WISPS Community Sees Players Rise to Challenge of National Representation

With another bumper season of squash almost over, the WISPS (Women In Scotland Playing Squash) community has gone from strength to strength in its second full season. With regular tournaments throughout Scotland overseen by Edinburgh-based squash coach and coordinator Elaine Inglis, WISPS squash has provided women and girls across Scotland the opportunity to compete socially in one-day competitions, while developing friendships and increasing the accessibility of squash for all age groups. Scottish Squash caught up with Elaine and some of the thriving WISPS players to check in on the progression of this vibrant squash community.

“WISPS is an idea I came up with to try and get more women and girls playing squash,” said Elaine. “The fundamental premise was to create a relaxed and sociable environment where all squash abilities, from Masters to beginners, could be embraced, celebrated and grown. Since the first session at Whitecraigs in 2022, the last two years have seen over 100 different women and girls playing in WISPS tournaments, and it is encouraging to see the presence of new faces each time.”

With the growing popularity of the tournaments and wide demographic of the community, Elaine made sure to innovate and focus on the positive health benefits of squash for all.

“This season saw the first WISPS team event take place in Aberdeen at ASRC, where teams were made up of mixed abilities and each game won counted towards your team’s overall score. The feedback I received from everyone was really positive, and great interest was shown in doing more of these events.

“I am continually working to try and get more ladies and clubs interested in WISPS and drive more female involvement. I believe squash and the WISPS environment is a fun and social setting to keep active but is also hugely beneficial for anyone who struggles with mental health, and I would like to thank Jennifer Broadley and Healthy Chat for sponsorship and support. Healthy Chat is there to help anyone who is suffering with anxiety, depression, trauma or grief, just to list some of the things Jennifer can assist with.” Visit https://healthychat.co.uk/ to learn more.

Thriving Players

A wide group of players are making the most of competitive squash opportunities in Scotland, with WISPS tournaments providing a springboard for many. Making the leap into Masters squash, Max Thomson and Joanne O’Leary competed in the Masters Home Internationals for Scotland in 2024 after a run of WISPS events.

“Elaine has created the most fun and yet at the same time challenging day of squash!” said Max. “It really does allow everyone to come together and play with the same level players and higher. This started improving my game massively. I cannot tell you how proud I was to be selected for the MHI team, mixed with excitement and a bucket full of nerves!

“I trained hard and headed to Nottingham for the Home Internationals, and can honestly say I had the best ever weekend away with these ladies! I found that my nerves got the better of me in some respects as this was my first time and it’s pretty daunting, but I played my heart out and was so delighted to be involved in playing for my country (a couple of weeks before I turned 50!). I shall continue my training and hopefully next year brings more of the same and better results. Thanks to WISPS for encouraging my confidence to grow and to the Scottish team, led by captain Katy Temple, for the most incredible experience playing for my country!”

For Joanne, squash was an entirely new sport when she took to court a few years ago. “WISPS has been a fantastic opportunity to build my confidence on the court, learn more about the sport generally and have fun at the same time. The tournament structure and culture that WISPS has created is one that is engaging, fun and above all encouraging,” she said.

“WISPS also gave me the confidence to break into the Masters squash circuit and further competitive squash,” continued Joanne. “The MHI weekend in Dublin was an unforgettable experience. From start to end, the collective team spirit across all nations was incredible. The energy across team Scotland was inspiring, as was the support amongst players who were there to cheer you on and provide encouragement and guidance during and after each game.”

“WISPS is a family, and we welcome new people with open arms”

WISPS Look Ahead to 2024-25

Season 2024-25 is shaping up to be another progressive year of competitive squash in Scotland [check out the latest competitions calendar update], with WISPS set to be a cornerstone of the social competitions scene yet again. “WISPS is a family, and we welcome new people with open arms,” said Elaine. “It also means so much to me that so many players are interested and keep coming back to play. There are 11 competitions in the pipeline for next season and I am happy to share information on several exciting developments.”

  • A WISPS workshop with former World Number 1, Laura Massaro, on the 26th – 27th October – details to follow.
  • The second WISPS team event on the 24th November 2024
  • WISPS Squash Clinics
  • Plus, plans to run smaller events in the quieter months – Wee WISPS! Watch this space.

Getting involved with WISPS is as easy as entering a competition (next up: Watsonian SRC), or simply getting in touch beforehand. If you are interested in either playing or hosting a WISPS event, you can contact Elaine at wispsquash@gmail.com. You can also keep track of all the fun via the community Facebook and Instagram pages and benefit from advice and encouragement from other players.

“Whether you have played from an early age and then had a break, or if like me squash was an entirely new sport which I have had to learn from the very beginning, my advice would be everyone needs to start somewhere,” said Joanne O’Leary. “Keep playing people who are better than you, even if that means you struggle to win a game. Stay confident, consider having a few lessons or joining a club/entering regular tournaments like the WISPS – it’s a brilliant way to meet other women across Scotland who all love playing squash!”

The next WISPS competition takes place at Watsonian SRC in Edinburgh on 23rd June. You can enter until 16th June via SportyHQ.