The Arlen Specter US Squash Center produces more than professional squash in the heart of Philadelphia – there’s a real goal to give back to the community through sport.
That’s why, in part, the Philadelphia City Council created a resolution to rename North 33rd Street to “Squash Way”.
The late US Senator Arlen Specter, the center’s namesake, was an avid squash player. That’s why his son, Shanin Specter, and Drexel University President John Fry have teamed up to make the city the birthplace of squash in America.
Specter believes the center is giving back to the city of Philadelphia at a time when it is badly needed.
“We have one of the fastest growing youth urban squash programs in the world at the Specter Center in West Philadelphia, combined with the Lenfest Center in North Philadelphia,” Specter told The Inquirer. “This comes at a time when we Philadelphians are desperately trying to save our city’s youth. The Specter Center is a shining beacon of hope against despair.
The name change, Spectre says, is a byproduct of the hard work the center has done to give back to the community through squash.
“We have a few streets in Philadelphia that are named after significant events that took place there. North 33rd Street is home to the Drexel squash teams and the Arlen Specter US Squash Center, so it is the center of squash in the Western Hemisphere. The street name should reflect that, and now it does.
The center works with five Philadelphia public and charter schools as the base for their squash programs. Specter says the center intends to double that number.
“When you combine all of the school programs with our urban squash programs, we’re going to introduce thousands of Philadelphians to squash. It’s a very encouraging development for our city.
With 18 singles courts, two all-glass show courts and two of North America’s premier hardball blue doubles courts, combined with a high-performance training facility, it’s no surprise that US Squash chose the center created in 2021 as a home. base.
Amanda Sobhy, the No. 1 ranked player and the first American to reach the top five in the Professional Squash Association world rankings, moved to Philadelphia shortly after the center was built.
“Moving to Philadelphia for the Specter Center was definitely the right move for me at this point in my career as a professional athlete,” Sobhy said. “I love that all of the American players have slowly moved here over the past two years to the Specter Center. It’s great that we can all train together and push each other to improve. Squash can sometimes to be very isolating, so it’s good to have a good community and a good group of players around us.
Since the completion of the Center, American women in particular are making huge waves in the world of squash. There are currently four in the top 20 of the world rankings – a number that just a few years ago was arguably unheard of.
The Specter Center also hosts the US Open, one of the biggest events on the calendar. At this year’s event in October, three Americans advanced to the knockout stages for the first time in tournament history.
Sobhy remarks on how the center has made Philadelphia the center of the squash world. “When you think of squash in the United States, you automatically think of Philadelphia now. There’s no better place to be these days as a squash player.