LAURA Massaro is preparing for one of the biggest tournaments of her career – and she is not even playing in it.
The Chorley squash star, who plays for Blackburn side East Lancashire in the North West Counties Squash League, is running her first world class competition at the David Lloyd Fitness Centre in her home town next month on a court named in her honour.
And it will be a family affair for the British number one as she has organised the tournament with her brother Chris Lengthorn – head squash coach at the national centre in Manchester.
The squash siblings also want to create a legacy for the sport in the borough and will be holding workshops and coaching sessions in junior and secondary schools, culminating with a competition in the lead up to the tournament.
The Courtcare Open runs from February 28 until March 3 and is a part of the World Tour with prize money of $10,000 (£6,200).
While the tournament won’t attract the game’s elite players, there will be a number of players in and around the world top 20 – including Massaro’s England team-mate Sarah Kippax.
“I’ve played in all of the biggest tournaments across the world but this one is a bit special because we have organised it ourselves,” said Massaro, the British champion who recently reached the final of the Cayman World Open and the World Squash Series.
“It’s been quite difficult because it is the first time I have done something like this and you don’t realise how much hard work goes in to it.”
“This is something we have thought about doing for the past 18 months,” added Massaro, who lives in Hoghton.
“I’ve always wanted to put something back in to the game and also the club which has supported me throughout my career.”
Massaro hopes the tournament will attract the top stars in the future, including herself.
“I’m not playing this year and my role will be to make sure everything runs smoothly,” she said. “But it would be great to see it become a bigger tournament and see the top players in action in Chorley. I would love to play in it myself in a few years.”
While the tournament is hoping to put the town on the map, the pair also aim to create a squash hub in the area.
Lengthorn is running four-week coaching sessions at St Peter’s, St Joseph’s, Brinscall St John’s and Whittle-le Woods primary schools with Albany Academy and St Michael’s Secondary School also taking part.
They will play in a tournament at the David Lloyd Fitness Centre on February 25-26 before being invited back to watch the main event.
“When we decided to launch the tournament, we wanted to do something that will hopefully raise the profile of the sport,” said Lengthorn.
“I will be going in to schools to coach and pupils will get to compete in a tournament at the end of it. We’re hoping to get more youngsters involved in the sport.
“We just didn’t want it to be the coaching and the tournaments and for it all to end. Hopefully we can create a squash legacy.”
For Courtcare Open ticket details, contact 01257 235100.