25 Years of Squash in Grand Central

J.P Morgan Tournament of Champions – Squash Championship in Grand Central

I was in Grand Central earlier this week to check out Grand Central Madison, which opened its doors after decades of planning, and ran into the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions, which is a squash championship at Grand Central every year on my way out. The timing could not have been more perfect as I got to catch the semi finals that day, and I then came back the following day to watch the finals, all of which were amazing.

What is J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions?

The Tournament of Champions, sponsored by J.P. Morgan, is an annual international squash championship that traces its history back to 1930. It has been played in different cities all over North America, though 2023 marks 25 years of it being played in Grand Central, and yes I do mean Grand Central Terminal in New York! Although it is the oldest annual squash championship in the world, women started competing only in 2001, and have mostly played at Grand Central as the venue.

Where is the Tournament of Champions played in Grand Central?

The ToC is played in Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central. To give you an idea of the setting, here are a couple of pictures of Grand Central where it was all about the squash this year from January 18 – 26, 2023.

And here is a video of what it was like to walk from the main hall in Grand Central to Vanderbilt Hall while there was a squash match being played.

Do you need tickets to watch the Tournament of Champions?

You can buy tickets from the ToC website or at a Box Office that is set up at Grand Central. But, as I learned this year, the best way to watch this squash championship is in the standing section on one side of the squash court that does not require tickets! The matches are played in a glass court so they can be viewed from all sides, though the view when you are standing – yes, without tickets, actually has the players hitting the ball in your direction, which is unusual as a spectator, and as the comments on my YouTube videos suggest, loved by most and disliked by some purists.

You can clearly spot the ticketed – and seated – spectators, and then spectators like me that made the most of having open access to watch the matches. For the semi finals, I got a spot in front about 30 minutes before play started, though for the finals the people standing right in front arrived about an hour before the finals. I got lucky as the people standing before me left soon after the squash match started, so I had front row seats, or rather standing room space. Ticketed spectators could take their seats about 30 minutes before the scheduled time.

I loved having a view of the players hitting the ball towards me, though details of play closer to the Tin were not clearly visible.

Matches that I saw at the ToC in 2023

The first match that I saw was the Women’s semi final between between Hania El Hammamy and Nour El Sherbini. It was the first time I was experiencing a squash match in Grand Central, and it felt like a sensory overload from my vantage point.

I returned the next evening for the finals between Nour El Shebini and Nouran Gohar, the top 2 ranked players in the world! This time we were closer to the court, and literally standing behind the official photographers as you can see from their heads in the videos below.

Nour El Sherbini won when Nouran Gohar retired hurt soon after the first game, making history as the all time second four-time winner of the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions.

Since the women’s match ended way sooner than expected, there was a little break before the men came on for their finals. I got to see Marwan Elshorbagy play Diego Elias, with Diego Elias emerging the winner for his first ToC trophy. The level of play was just astounding, with play going on forever for each point.

The Tournament of Champions was just so fun to experience that I am definitely going to be back next year. And yes, you guessed it, will be standing room without tickets again.


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Hi, I'm Hanit Gyani, a full time professional by day and a blogger by night and weekend. Welcome to my blog, aka my passion project, Gotta Love New York.

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