Neal Tew makes his living as a financial planner. But he's not investing all of his money in an IRA. A lot of his money has gone into building the premier squash facility in Cincinnati.
Of course, there aren't a lot of squash facilities in Cincinnati. But any subsequent ones will be held to the standard set by the T Squash Center in Fairfax. It is a multi-level building that caters to the youngest of squash players in the Tri-State. And it's helping the sport grow in popularity. In just three years of operation, the center has produced a squash national champion.
"They sometime will call squash 'chess in shorts,'" Tew told WCPO. Tew has to be the most enthusiastic proponent of the racquet sport. "You can't win on one shot"
Squash is played indoor, similar to racquetball and on the same sized court. But the important difference is there: unlike racquetball, squash has certain areas where you must serve from and certain areas where the ball will be declared in or out of play. In a sense, it's more like tennis, than racquetball. And unlike those sports, Tew says it's easier to pick up.
"It's easy to learn," Tew explains. "But it's difficult to master."
With the help of his father, Tew funded the construction of the T Squash Center. It has five enclosed courts on its ground level. Its second level features an area where kids can do their homework and study, while waiting their turn on the court. It folds back to the how Tew learned the sport as a child.
"I really had a good experience playing it as a young child, through my adulthood. Really thought it was a great experience that could teach kids about life lessons through the sport. And I wanted to broaden the access."
The T Squash Center has players as old a 80. But Tew says 80 percent of the players who use the sport are kids. And while Tew still plays the sport with a passion, he's teaching it now. On the day we were at the T Squash Center, Tew was teaching two children, under the age of six, proper footwork and hand-eye coordination. They never picked up a racquet while we were there. Those are fundamental skills that are needed to not just enjoy playing the game, but to master it.
All three of Tew's children play the sport. Twelve-year-old son J.P. says he enjoys not only the sport, but also the friendships he's made with competitors all over the country.
"It's easy to learn," J.P. said. "If you just want to play as a hobby, it's easy to learn, for fun. But if you want to play at a high level, you have to practice hard."
The Midwest Squash Regionals will be held at the T Squash Center this coming week. More than 130 kids are expected from ten states. The T Squash Center is located at 3917 Virginia Avenue in Fairfax. You can find more information on their web site: www.thet.us.com.