New Kid on the Block: SquashRx

Like good New Yorkers, the founders of SquashRx are using a space that would be considered the bowels of the building in any other city, nearly useless to anyone else, and making it into something that works. I could call it a squash club, but the beauty in this place is it is simply two courts, a small hallway and a bathroom. That’s it. It is stripped down and simple, all about the squash and nothing but the squash. And they are trying to separate themselves from the exclusive and pricey membership models traditionally found in the city, such as the Brooklyn Heights Casino and certainly the Ivy League clubs of Midtown.

Squash pro Brian Mathias founded the first SquashRx on 36th and Sixth – a single court he opened in 2015. Before long it was booked solid. It was there, four years ago, that he met Battery Park City resident Emre Marcelli, who had come to the club to take his first lesson along with his 7-year-old daughter Naomi. Not much later, the two started cooking up the idea for a second location downtown, built on the same model.

“We don’t try to compete with the extra amenities,” said Marcelli. “It’s about controlling costs and finding the right space.” A trader by trade, this venture has been a passion project so far. “It’s one of the funnest projects you could invest in. It’s local, it’s sports, and you feel even more a part of the neighborhood.”

The resident pro, Simone Rocca, is an eight-time Italian champ and once coached Mathias’ wife, who is also Italian (and also a squash pro). Once Rocca got to the US, he was surprised to see the sport largely revolved around wealth and pedigree in a way it does not in Italy. So that was part of the mission the three men shared: to make the club open to all.

The downtown space opened in August and now has a few dozen kids in the youth program and Leman is renting the space for its varsity team. An off-peak court for an hour is $40 and peak is $55, and the fee can be split between two players when you book online, Mathias said. THere’s nothing else required to get on the courts. “We just love squash and we love the idea of making it accessible.”

160 Broadway at Maiden Lane/Liberty