End of An Era Maine State Doubles closes the book on Bowdoin’s lone doubles court

By Fred Hill

(L-R) Eddie Reid, Charlie Butt and Del Fuller are the first inductees in the newly founded Maine State Squash Hall of Fame.
(L-R) Eddie Reid, Charlie Butt and Del Fuller are the first inductees in the newly founded Maine State Squash Hall of Fame.

One of his regular opponents said Charlie Butt swears in Chinese when he’s under the gun in a doubles match. Ed Reid talked about how his squash DNA came from a father who taught the game to Teddy Roosevelt. And Del Fuller was lauded for the many tournaments he established in different parts of the country.

The quirks and accomplishments of these three squash legends, and a weekend of intensely competitive doubles matches featuring several national champions, were the highlight of a successful “last hurrah” at Bowdoin College May 1-4 at the 2008 Maine State Squash Doubles Championship.

Butt, Reid and Fuller, perhaps the three most prominent squash players in Maine, were inducted into the newly established Maine State Squash Hall of Fame at a Saturday night lobster dinner attended by more than 60 players, spouses and friends.

Ed Reid was Bowdoin’s first squash coach and the No. 1-ranked professional player in 1954, as well as winner of four national, all-age tournaments in the late 40s and early 50s. Charlie Butt, a native of China and long-time Bowdoin swim and soccer coach, won more than 20 national singles and doubles titles after taking up the sport at Bowdoin. And Del Fuller, a Chicago insurance executive who retired in Brunswick, won five national singles and doubles crowns.

Reid, Butt and Fuller were awarded specially designed granite plaques and certificates citing their outstanding achievements from the U.S. Squash CEO Kevin Klipstein at the dinner.

A week after the May tournament, Bowdoin College, which built a new squash facility with seven softball courts in 2000, began demolishing the old hardball singles courts and the only hardball doubles court in Maine to make room for an expanded fitness facility.

The college has long-term plans to add three softball courts and a hardball doubles court at the new Lubin facility. Organizers of the final doubles tourney, one of many held in recent years with players from throughout the US and Canada, hope to raise funds to help build additional facilities.

Twenty-three teams took part in the tournament in three draws. The Open draw, with 13 teams, was won (15-13, 15-9, 15-12) by two recent Bowdoin graduates, Zach Linhart (’07) and Mike Fensterstock (’04). They defeated (15-13,9,12) Bowdoin third-year student Chris Nehrbas, and his father, Andy Nehrbas, who recently won the U.S. National 50+ doubles title with Doug Rice, in the final. The Nehrbas tandem, from Philadelphia, had won two fall Butt Doubles tournaments at Bowdoin and looked strong in winning the semifinal match over another competitive father-son team, second-year student Peter Cipriano, and his father Guy Cipriano, from Madison, N.J.(15-11,11,12).

Linhart and Fensterstock, both from New York, defeated Bowdoin coach Tomas Fortson and one of his top players, Jake Sack, in the other semifinal, the closest of the weekend’s key matches. The scores were 15-12, 16-15, (10), (11), 15-11.

Before Linhart graduated in 2007, he and Peter Cipriano won the national intercollegiate doubles championship—the Ketcham Cup—defeating teams from Princeton, Yale and Bates. Two teams of Bates players, including No. 1 player, Ricky Weisskopf, took part in the 2008 Maine Open.

The B draw was won by Doug Fuller, Del Fuller’s son, from Miami, and Eric Grossman, of Camden, Maine. They defeated three teams of Bowdoin ice hockey players in a round-robin draw, each time by scores of 3-1. Bowdoin’s hockey coach, Terry Meagher, encourages his skaters to play squash in the off-season for conditioning and fast-reaction training.

The 60’s draw, with six teams, was won by Long Island veterans Garrett DeGraff and Chuck Luyster, who edged Pete Latimer (Baltimore) and Fred Hill (Arrowsic, Maine) in a hard-fought final, (11), 17-14, 15-13, 18-16. DeGraff and Luyster defeated Butt and his partner, Hody White, on one side of the draw earlier, while Latimer and Hill overcame 2007 Maine State 60s champs, Kerry Martin and Paul Yaphe, from Montreal, on the other side.

Hugh Anderson and Paul Harris, from Baltimore, won the Open consolation final, besting Bowdoin squash players, David Funk and Thai Ha-Ngoc, in three games.

Introducing the Maine Hall of Fame at the dinner, Hill, who conceived the idea with Bowdoin’s unofficial squash commissioner, Bernie LaCroix, noted that the closing of the old courts was probably inevitable, given Bowdoin’s limited fitness facilities. But he expressed confidence that substantial support will be forthcoming for funds to build additional courts. Hill noted three compelling reasons for additional courts—to strengthen the team and make it possible for Bowdoin to host a national tournament (10 courts are required by the NCAA); to allow more access to recreational players who no longer will have the old Morrell Gym courts; and to reach out to not only the growing doubles community but local high schools as well. “Squash is a terrific, healthy and increasingly popular sport, and to quote Winston Churchill in the early stages of World War II, ‘This is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning.’”