Celebrating World Squash Day

10th October is World Squash Day and with restrictions eased on the squash courts, the coaching team are back in action with the Junior Squads restarting that day.

Only two players at a time are permitted on court so squads are restricted to just six players across three courts but a fourth squad has been introduced to allow more players to take part.

Plus Head Coach Anna Vaughan Hawkins is re-introducing Pay n’ Play sessions as well as ‘Introduction to Squash’ and ‘Introduction to Racketball’ programmes.

“These will be in blocks of six sessions and, again, with six places per programme,” said Anna. “This will give the players a ready-made ‘bubble’ for friendly play outside the programme sessions. All these sessions will be bookable very soon so keep an eye on MindBody!”

  • AND England Squash is celebrating World Squash Day by setting up the world’s biggest squash team contest.With two teams, headed up by former World No 1’s Laura Massaro and Nick Matthew, club players are being invited to pick a team and get playing.Launching on 10th October, this one-month contest is a chance for match-starved squash players to get in on some regular competitive action AND boost their SquashLevels ranking. Participants can choose to play full court as part of a bubble/ same household or play ‘sides’.

    Just pick a side and do battle, then record your score on SquashLevels* from 10 October.

AGM Zooms smoothly

“Welcome to another first for The Northern – it’s just taken us 138 years to get here!”

 With those words Chairman Neville Hewer welcomed members to the Club’s first ever video conference AGM, held by Zoom on 30th September. “Covid has brought us many new experiences,” he said later. “And this one is truly historic!”

Twenty-five people attended the meeting, which employed a slide deck in place of paper documents and passed without any technical hitches.

Since all the annual reports had been available on the Club website since before Covid forced a delay to the original March AGM date – and since all voting had been conducted by proxy in advance of the meeting – business moved along quickly. All resolutions were passed by a large majority and the meeting lasted just an hour.

 * Chairing the AGM was Neville Hewer’s last duty as Club Chairman. After 20 years in the position, he will now serve as Club President.

New Chairman Martijn De Lange has been a member of the Northern for 18 years and, in between playing tennis, is CEO of logistics giant Hermes.

On behalf of everyone, he thanked Neville for “your fantastic effort and commitment during 25 years as Tennis Chairman and Club Chairman.

“The Club is now in a better position than it has been for many years. We are all very thankful that you will remain an important part of the Club because we really need you!”

Pickleball launches at The Northern

Considering it’s nearly four times the size of a squash ball and it’s bright orange, you’d think a pickleball ball would be easier to hit wouldn’t you?

But there you go … fun, infuriating (for a squash player), occasionally chaotic and fequently hilarious, pickleball made its debut at the Club on Saturday, with a social session led by Tennis Director Jonny Kinsella.

Despite making up the rules as he went along and swapping partners on a regular basis, even Jonny struggled with the flight and bounce, so the field is wide open for a new superstar to emerge. It could be you! (It certainly won’t be me…)

The session will continue @ 5.00pm every Saturday, with a full Taster Day planned for mid-October.

Squash is back – inside and out!

The Northern’s squash players are finally able to play ‘proper’ squash with members of other households.

 Manchester has announced an exemption to local lockdown rules to allow organised indoor sport and players are now allowed to:

* Form registered bubbles of up to six players from different households, playing full squash with some restrictions on timing/ sanitising the ball etc;

* Play full squash without restrictions against members of their own household/ support bubble;

* Play socially distanced squash against members of other households.

No more than two players are permitted on court at any time: full details are posted on the Squash Noticeboards.

  • Meanwhile the ladies’ teams celebrated Women’s Squash Week with an outdoor court fitness session (above) coupled with individual indoor court training. “It was a great success, everyone loved it and we’re doing it again next week,” said Head Coach Anna Vaughan Hawkins.
  • Anna and her team have also planned a PSA-style tournament for October 4th, pitting juniors against their parents or siblings. Following the rules of the recently re-launched Professional World Tour, matches will be live streamed so friends and family can watch without gathering at the Club. Players will be given an allocated time to arrive for their match, allowing for airing and cleaning the courts between matches. Our juniors are really keen to have a go at beating their parents,” said Anna. “In fact a few of them can do it already. We’re expecting some tough encounters.”

Players in a pickle!

It’s played on a badminton court … with oversized table tennis bats … using (more or less) tennis rules. Welcome to Pickleball!

 Said to be the fastest-growing sport in the US, pickleball is rapidly taking hold in the UK too. Suitable for all ages and all skill levels, playable inside or outside, the game is easy for beginners to learn but can develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.

And it’s coming to the Northern – the Club has invested in some equipment and will be advertising a Taster Day very soon, so watch this space!

PLUS – the badminton court lines on the old indoor court are being refurbished and we will be slotting badminton sessions into the court timetable as soon as possible.

 With squash and racketball (only for family/ bubble members just now, but still …) that’s SIX ball sports on offer at the Northern!


Watch this space – Studio Classes return

Studio classes are back from Tuesday and bookable NOW online or via Reception.

Current outdoor sessions are moving back inside, with extra classes added. And with the studio floor marked out to give everyone a 3-metre square space, class sizes can be boosted to 8 people (7 for spin).
“Some classes can move back outside if the weather’s really nice on the day but – well – this is Manchester,” said Gym Rep Lisa Pilkington who has been organising the studio re-launch.
“Spin will have to stay indoors now though because we can’t keep moving the bikes up and down the stairs.”
Liz is rejoining the regular studio team of Jo, Josie, Rick and Sara and introducing “Inside the Box”, a less intense form of HIIT, as well as updating her Seniors class as Future Fitness.
In addition, there are more yoga and pilates classes planned and the team are hoping to introduce Tai Chi.
“We’ve had a really positive response from the Members we’ve spoken to and we’ll gradually grow the timetable as people come back,” said Lisa.

Meanwhile, the timetable looks like this:
(NB some start times have been slightly adjusted)

MONDAY: 9.15am & 10.15am —-Total Tone/ Fitband —- Josie
TUESDAY: 6pm & 7pm —–YOGA —–Sara
WEDNESDAY: 6pm.—–HIIT —–Rick
10.15am —- FUTURE FITNESS —- Liz
5.30pm & 6.15pm ———- SPIN —– Jo
FRIDAY: 10am & 11 am —– TOTAL TONE —– Josie
10.30am & 11.15am —– SPIN —– Rick
SUNDAY: 10am & 11.15am —– YOGA —– Sara

PLEASE remember to cancel online if you find you can’t make your class after all – with numbers still limited, there’s always a waiting list!

Local Lockdown Update

The bunting has actually been taken down to be washed but don’t worry, despite the local lockdown we are still open!

 A spike in COVID-19 infections in the region has led to tighter restrictions,                                       including a ban on meeting and socialising in homes, in bars and restaurants and in other public venues. People may still visit these venues but only with others from their own household or support bubble.

There is no bar on the use of indoor sports facilities BUT we have had to make some temporary changes:

* The Gym will remain OPEN;

* The Indoor Tennis Court has been CLOSED;

* The Squash Courts are OPEN for individual training and family/ support bubble play ONLY;

The squash junior programme, relaunched on Tuesday, has had to be suspended but will resume (fingers crossed) in September;

Meanwhile Head Professional Julianne Courtice will continue her online court fitness sessions every Sunday @ 3pm.

Members are asked be especially vigilant in regards to maintaining social distancing (2m wherever possible) – including on the deck and in the car park – observing the one-way systems and using the hand sanitisers.

Please wipe down touch points – Gym equipment and door handles in particular – after use.

Welcome Back to The Northern!

We’ve been mopped and polished from top to bottom, the floor signs are down, the sanitisers are up, the lights are on and the clocks are ticking again …

We’re all ready for a SAFE return to indoor sport on Saturday 25th.

So here’s some stuff you need to know:

 Opening Times: 7am – 9pm, Mon – Fri; 9am – 6pm, weekends;

 Bar opening times: 4.30pm – 9pm Mon – Fri; 11am – 3.30pm @ weekends

 The Club can accept card payments only, for all services:

The Bar will continue to run a takeaway service, accessed from the Deck;

The disabled toilet adjacent to Squash Court 4 is available for use, in addition to the toilet in the Indoor Tennis Court building, but changing rooms remain closed; (Members with disabilities may arrange with Reception to use the Disabled Changing Room);

Cleaners will be on site during the day but PLEASE use the sanitiser spray to cleanse the area after using the toilet;

A one-way system is clearly marked out but we’re not a huge building, PLEASE make way for other members using the same route when necessary!

 The Gym:

* 1-hour timed slots are available to book now on MindBody;

* Users will enter by the usual door and exit via the fire escape;

* Windows must be kept open whenever the gym is in use, to facilitate good air flow;

* The Gym has been rearranged to ensure safe social distancing – please respect the one-way system and ‘Out of Use’ signage;

* Please use the sanitisers provided when entering and leaving;

* Please wipe down all equipment with sanitiser spray after use;

* And yes – the PTs will be back in action!

The Squash Courts:

* 1 hour court slots are available to book now on MindBody: this allows for 40 minutes play and 20 minutes to air the court before the next players arrive;

* Players will enter via Reception and leave via the exit adjacent to the ladies’ changing rooms;

* Please use the hand sanitiser provided before entering and leaving the courts;

* The squash balcony is closed to everyone except the coaching team;

* Match play is only permitted between members of the same household or family support bubble; two people from different households are allowed on court together but must maintain social distancing;

* For advice on ‘Ways to Play’ please see the posters on the notice boards.


 * Outdoor courts will continue to be accessed via the car park: PLEASE respect the one-way system around the Indoor Court building;

* Members using the Indoor Tennis Court will enter via Reception and follow the one-way system to the exit door adjacent to the ladies’ changing rooms;

* Members will access and leave the Indoor Court Building by the normal route but please respect social distancing in the foyer area.

It will take a little getting used to – but it’s great to have you back at last!

Step this way – a guide to navigating the clubhouse safely

Four months ago, on the evening of Friday 20th March, Chairman Neville Hewer and General Manager Graham Brindley received the news that leisure facilities must close, sent a sad message of apology to the Club members, locked the front door and went home.

Eighteen weeks and 12 hours later, at 9am on Saturday 25th July, the door will open again – welcome back!

(But please remember to follow the little arrows …)

For the first week of opening, Members heading for the outdoor courts will continue using the route through the car park.

Members using the indoor tennis courts, squash courts or gym will enter through Reception and pick up the one-way system, designed to protect social distancing and guide people safely through the building.

There will be no exit via Reception and the bar service will continue to be accessed from the deck only.

* Gym users will turn left up the stairs to the gym, where the arrows will lead them down either side of the equipment. They will exit the gym via the fire escape.

* Indoor tennis court users will turn right down the steps/ ramp and then left to exit via the door near the ladies’ changing rooms.

* Squash players will follow the same route both to access the courts and to leave after playing.

“We are anxious to avoid having members gather in the Reception area,” said Graham. “Reception will be strictly one-way.

“Some pinch points are unavoidable elsewhere, particularly at the bottom of the ramp and by the exit door but we’re relying on Members to be courteous and stand back until their way is clear.

“We’re asking outdoor court users to continue entering around the side of the Club just while we confirm that the we’re not getting any congestion down that side corridor.”

The disabled toilet by the squash courts 1 – 4 will be available for use but changing rooms will remain closed and the squash balcony is also closed, except for coaches conducting sessions.

Squash is back on court!

It won’t be quite as we know it but it’s definitely squash – at last!

Courts will reopen from next Saturday, the 25th, with important social distancing guidelines to ensure safe play. These include:

* Match play with members of the same household or support bubble only;

* Two people from different households playing ‘Sides’ a modified form of squash, or training on opposite sides of the court;

* Socially distanced individual coaching and group coaching for up to 5 people but no more than two on court at one time;

* Court sessions of 1 hr, to allow for 40 mins play with a 20 min gap for the court to ‘air’ before the next players arrive;

* Changing rooms will not be open so players should arrive ready to play and take all their belongings on court with them;

* Players must sanitise their hands before and after play.

Full details of the safety procedures will be posted on the notice boards this week or for the full England Squash guidelines go to https://data.englandsquash.com/files?fileName=England%20Squash%20Back%20To%20Squash%20Guidelines%20v1%20140720.pdf

 Meanwhile Head Coach Anna Vaughan Hawkins is planning a Bubble Squads coaching programme centred around family groups and Head Pro Julianne Courtice is working on an injury avoidance guide for enthusiastic returnees.

“The main thing is to take it easy,” she said. “However hard you’ve worked at keeping fit for the last four months, we all know that squash crucifies the parts that other exercise doesn’t reach!”

Julianne is continuing her online court fitness sessions every Sunday for as long social distanciing restrictions remain in place but will miss next Sunday (26th).