By Michael T. Bello
Published Jul 1, 2017 at 7:00 AM ET; Updated Jul 1, 2017 at 7:37 AM ET

Charlottesville, VA — The University of Virginia announced yesterday that it is adding men’s and women’s squash as varsity programs for the 2017 – 2018 season.

Over the past few seasons, the Virginia club teams have skyrocketed up the collegiate rankings. Last season, the Virginia women competed for the Kurtz Cup (B Division) and finished the year ranked 13th. Similarly, the Virginia men finished second in the Summers Cup (C Division) and completed the season ranked 18th.

Teresa A. Sullivan, the president of the University of Virginia, stated that “We are thankful for the generous gift of a donor to elevate squash to varsity status at the University. Squash is a challenging sport that requires a great deal of physical fitness and it’s a lifelong competitive pursuit for many, particularly in our area. The high usage rate of the courts at the McArthur Squash Center is just one sign of the popularity of the sport in our community. We are thrilled to support squash at the highest possible level and look forward to attracting even more terrific varsity student-athletes to Grounds.”

Since 2013, the Virginia club program has been led by head coach Mark Allen. Allen becomes the inaugural varsity coach for both the men’s and women’s varsity programs, and Grant White will continue to be his assistant coach. “I am profoundly grateful to the Board of the Friends of Virginia Squash, our donors, players and parents, coaching staff, and fans, all of whom helped make this goal a reality. My gratitude extends equally to the University and athletics administration. I am excited to proceed with a shared vision for the future of intercollegiate squash at UVA,” Allen explains.

Completed in 2013, the McArthur Squash Center at the Boar’s Head Sports Club is the Cavaliers’ home facility. Today, the facility has nine singles courts, including a four-wall glass exhibition court, and two hardball doubles courts. Through a private donation, the facility will be upgraded to include five additional courts, which should be completed in mid-2018.

“We are committed to providing intercollegiate[ athletics opportunities for UVA students where it makes sense and are excited to add men’s and women’s squash as varsity sport programs,” explains Craig Littlepage, Virginia’s Director of Athletics.

Since 1993, Virginia becomes the tenth school to add varsity squash: Haverford (1993 -1994),  William Smith (1998 – 1999), St. Lawrence (1999 – 2000), George Washington (2002 – 2003), Stanford (2003 – 2004, added women’s team); Middlebury (2007 – 2008, added men’s team to an existing varsity women’s team), Columbia (2010 – 2011), Drexel (2011 – 2012), and Dickinson (2014 – 2015).

With the addition of Virginia, there are now 30 women’s and 34 men’s varsity intercollegiate squash teams.