Tuesday, February 20 , 2018, 10:39 am | Fair 54º


Local Squash Pros to Compete at World Masters Tournament

Orla O’Doherty and Debbie Brown will represent Santa Barbara, as well as Ireland and the U.S.

At this year’s World Squash Masters in Birmingham, England, Orla O’Doherty and Debbie Brown will not only represent Santa Barbara, but their countries of birth — Ireland and the United States, respectively — as they head off later this month to compete.

O’Doherty originally hails from Ireland, where she represented her country at three world championships. Since moving to the United States, she has been a five-time national champion in her age group.

Brown, originally from South Pasadena, has been a resident of Santa Barbara for the past 18 years. A former tennis player, she took to the squash courts at age 33. She has since become a three-time national champion in her age group. She won the silver medal in the World Masters in Portland, Ore., and has played in Masters events in Melbourne, Australia, and Sheffield, England.

Both women are squash pros at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club, where O’Doherty serves as head pro. In addition, Brown is the executive director of the Santa Barbara School of Squash, an after-school program that supports disadvantaged youth in the classroom and on the squash court.

The 2012 World Masters are open to every nation in the world. Competitors from 24 countries have already signed up to participate. While Brown will join several other U.S. competitors on their trip, O’Doherty will meet up with 10 of her Irish competitors at the tournament.

Brown will represent the United States in the Over 45 category, while O’Doherty will represent Ireland in the Over 40 division. The event starts July 20 and runs for a week, ending with a grand closing ceremony to announce the world champion in each division.

The training is going well, and both ladies expect to get to the quarterfinals of each division.

“Who knows how we’ll do,” Brown said. “We are training hard and look forward to a few days at the 2012 Olympics directly after the tournament in London.”

“We’ll come back with some sort of world ranking,” O’Doherty said. “We are in the midst of trying to get squash into the Olympics in 2020, and are asking everyone who plays to ‘Back the Bid 2020.’”

While they won’t get to play in the Olympics this time around, there’s no knowing what will happen in 2020.

— Orla O’Doherty is the head squash pro at the Santa Barbara Athletic Club.

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