squash racquets or squash, game played on a four-walled court, 16 ft (4.88 m) high by 181/2 ft (5.64 m) wide by 32 ft (9.75 m) long. The back wall, shorter than the front wall, usually measures 9 ft (2.74 m). A horizontal service line 61/2 ft (1.98 m) high is painted on the front wall, while a floor service line is marked off 10 ft (3.05 m) from, and parallel to, the back wall. The court is divided into two service zones by a line running midway between, and parallel to, the side walls. The inflated, black, hard rubber ball (1 3/4 in./3.18 cm in diameter) has a relatively "dead" bounce, and squash players must be fit and agile. Using a round-headed, strung racket that is no more than 27 in. (68.58 cm) long, the server hits the ball to the front wall above the service line (with caroms off the side walls permitted) without bouncing it on the floor, and directing it to the opposite service floor. Returning the ball before it hits the floor is permitted (even on service), and a point is scored when either player fails to return the ball before it bounces twice. All balls must strike the front wall above a tin "telltale" covering the bottom 17 in (43 cm) of the wall. Two serves are allowed a player per point. The small court usually makes doubles play inadvisable. In match play, 15 points win a game. Squash racquets, its name coming from the "squashy" ball first used, probably originated at England's Harrow School in the late 19th cent. from the older game of racquets. In the 20th cent. it became moderately popular in American colleges and universities. The U.S. Squash Racquets Association and the U.S. Women's Squash Racquets Association conduct annual national championships.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.