Secret Is out: World Squash Championships take over Bellevue

It’s a sport that’s often overlooked.

“It’s like a well-kept secret,” said Azam Khan, head squash pro at PRO Sports Club in Bellevue.

But this week at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, the secret is out. The best men’s squash players in the world are competing for a World Title for the first time on American soil.

“It’s kind of like having the Super Bowl here, or the NBA Finals,” added Azam Khan.

It’s a huge step forward, thanks to the effort of Shabana Khan, a former National Team member, who submitted Bellevue’s bid to host. Shabana is one of eight children of Yusef Khan, who began playing squash at local clubs upon his arrival to Seattle from India in 1968.

“It’s very exciting,” Shabana Khan said. “I think for me, mostly it’s like seeing a tribute to our dad. 47 years of his hard work.”

Added Azam Khan: “I think that’s one of the reasons Shabana wanted to bring it here – is kind of give back what the sport’s given to our family. It’s given us a livelihood, and given us good times.”

Best of all, this week is also a chance to showcase a sport to many who are unfamiliar – a chance to, well, squash, any misconceptions.

“Squash players come in different shapes and sizes. So I like that. You can’t judge what somebody’s gonna be like just by looking at them,” Shabana Khan said.

Added Azam: “You know, you get someone who’s 50 years old with a pot belly, beating a kid who’s 21, fit and can just – run everywhere. But that 21 year old’s getting beat because the 50 year old knows the angles and has the experience.”

It’s a sport, considered mental and physical chess - and one, if given a chance, that could be pretty addicting.

“Once you hit that ball, you’re like “Whoa!” It just hits you. That’s where the addiction starts,” Azam Khan said.

Added Shabana: “It’s not the most popular sport. We want it to be more mainstream. And I think after this event, I should become more mainstream.”

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