LEWISTON — For the second year in a row, some of the world's top talent in the sport of squash will converge on Bates College for the Bobcat Classic.
And this year, the tour is bringing some of the top players in the world with it.
David Palmer, originally of Australia and now living in Orlando, headlines the men's draw, along with 2011 PST world champion Bradley Ball of England and Italy's top player, Stephane Galifi.
"We are thrilled to be hosting the Bobcat Classic again this year," Pat Cosquer, men’s and women’s squash coach at Bates College, said in a news release. "Between the pro and amateur draws, this event will feature the best squash players the state of Maine has ever seen."
Palmer, who boasts one of the best squash records of all time and continues to play well, has won twice in 2012 — in the American Open and at the Phoenix Open — and was a finalist at the PST World Championship.
Two Bates alums, Sean Wilkinson of Ireland, a PST veteran, and Bobby Burns, will also compete in the pro draw. Wilkinson, an assistant coach at Drexel University, was a three-time captain of the squash team. Burns, a two-time First Team All-NESCAC and Bobcat captain last year, is an assistant squash pro at the New Canaan Country Club.
Bates freshman Ahmed Abdel Khalek, from Egypt, the 2009 and 2011 U.S. Junior Open Champion, is one of the players to watch in the men’s 6.0 amateur draw. The tournament field will also include players from Bowdoin, Brown and other colleges. Matches will be streamed online through the Bates website. The pro matches can be viewed on ProSquashTV.com.
Bates College is home to two of the nation's top squash programs. Both the men's and women's teams are perennially ranked in the College Squash Association's Top 20, and have dominated the state of Maine for the past several years.
Over 150 years old, squash is played by an estimated 20 million people in 185 countries. Forbes named squash the best sport for fitness because of its cardiovascular benefits. Players from across the globe compete on Pro Squash Tour for points and prize money. The top eight players are invited to an end-of-season championship.
The Bobcat Classic begins on Friday at 5 p.m. and continues on Saturday, with the semifinals at 11 a.m. and the third place and championship match at 5 p.m.
For more information and tickets, visit www.ProSquashTour.net