By Fred Hill
Revising the adage about old soldiers, old squash doubles tournaments never die, and they don’t always fade away – even when the doubles court is torn down. They just move to another state!
Several players from my old club in Baltimore, Meadow Mill, convinced me that we must continue the Maine State Doubles Tournament, despite the decision of Bowdoin College last year to demolish the only hardball doubles court in Maine.
So, last Christmas time, my former doubles partners, Hugh Anderson and Paul Harriss, and I asked Nancy Cushman if we could hold a Maine doubles tournament at Meadow Mill, the popular squash and athletic club she owns in Baltimore. Nancy’s answer: “Certainly!”
I’m not sure she knew what she was getting into with this green light. But in early May, with tremendous cooperation from Nancy and her staff, especially squash pro, Peter Heffernan, we held the first Maine and Maryland at Meadow Mill doubles tournament, or as we christened it, the M-4.
We lost a few players to a belated shift of the national mixed doubles to that weekend, May 1-3, 2009. But all things considered, the tournament was a great success. Ranging in age from 17 to 77, forty-eight players took part, half from Meadow Mill and the Maryland Club, but the other half came from Maine, the University Club in Washington (another city without a doubles court), Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Montreal and Miami.
If this doesn’t prove the growing popularity of doubles, I don’t know what could. U.S. Squash bosses in New York sanctioned the tournament, but couldn’t make up their minds on whether it could be the official 2009 Maine State Doubles Championship. Tournaments director, Conor O’Malley, conceded: “We’ve never encountered this kind of request before.”
One brilliant competitor had an intriguing idea: “We should hold this tournament every year for all the states that don’t have a doubles court.” While the fact that Baltimore will host the U.S. National Doubles Tournament in 2010 may lead us to skip next year, our Baltimore collaborators are eager to hold the tournament again.
The M-4 had four draws: an Open, B, 50s and 60-plus. Former Bowdoin players, Michael Fensterstock and Zach Linhart successfully defended their 2008 Maine Doubles championship in a tense five-set, final point win over Lefika Ragontse and Chris Haley in the key Open match.
Fensterstock, a rising new ISDA competitor, and Linhart, a 2007 national collegiate doubles champion, took a commanding 13-9 lead in the fifth game over Ragontse, the pro at Baltimore’s Bare Hills Club, and Haley, a top Meadow Mill player. But Ragontse’s acrobatic saves and Haley’s crisp volleys tied the match at 13-all. The back-and-forth overtime set reached 4-4 when, after a long rally, Haley went for a winning drop shot that just caught the top of the left tin.
Fensterstock/Linhart, both New York residents, and Ragontse/Haley defeated the other teams in the round-robin Open draw: John Brush and Steve Ward, from Meadow Mill, and Kevin Brennan, from Boston, and his cousin, Mike Brennan, from Portland, Maine.
Meadow Mill’s Heffernan, and his partner, Geoff Goodson, dominated the 50-plus draw, with three successive victories without losing a game. Heffernan’s deft drop shots and Goodson’s accurate volleying wore down their opponents, including Roger Friskey and Bob Edgington in the final. The B draw was won by Meadow Mill players, Pat Wong and Liz Everts, who won three straight matches on the strength of their quickness and deadly accuracy.
The 60s was won handily by two doubles veterans, Sandy Martin, a frequent U.S. and Canadian national champion, and John Voneiff, winner of numerous doubles tournaments. They defeated Kerry Martin, from Montreal, and Bill Bruchey, a Meadow Mill regular, in the final match of a six team draw.
Bernie LaCroix, the popular equipment manager at Bowdoin, and for years the organizer of doubles matches at the college, was inducted into the Maine State Squash Hall of Fame during a Saturday night dinner at Meadow Mill. At last year’s final tournament in Brunswick, former Bowdoin coaches, Charlie Butt and Ed Reid, and the late Del Fuller, were inducted as the first members. Fuller, who won many national hardball singles championships, died March 20, 2009. A memorial fund to promote squash in Maine has been established by his family.
Inaugural U25 Doubles Held in Greenwich
The 2009 National U25 Doubles Championship proved to be a great success, drawing 32 participants in its inaugural year. Hosted by the Field Club of Greenwich and the Greenwich Country Club in Connecticut, some of the top U25 doubles players in the country, including two-time U.S. Doubles Champion Trevor McGuinness (PA), competed for titles in Men’s, Women’s and Mixed draws.
Graham Bassett (CT)/Greg McAuthur (CT) d. C.J. Plimpton (CT)/Todd Ruth (PA) 3-0
Marci Sier (ON)/Suzie Pierrepont (PA) d. Catherine McLeod (NY)/Fernanda Rocha (MA) 3-2
Trevor McGuinness (PA)/Suzie Pierrepont (PA) d. Catherine McLeod (NY)/Graham Bassett (CT) 3-1
Boston Hosts Sibling Doubles
The 2009 National Sibling Doubles Championships was played May 15-17 at the University Club in Boston, MA. In the Open division final, brother’s Tim and Jack Wyant proved to be too strong for the brother/sister combination of Preston and Meredeth Quick. The Wyant’s (Jack is the current women’s squash coach at the University of Pennsylvania and Tim is the executive director at City Squash, an urban education and squash program in the Bronx, NY) used their speed and deft shot making ability to get by the Quick’s (Preston, the head squash professional at the Union Boat Club in Boston, and Meredeth, an assistant U.S. Junior Women’s National Team coach) 3-0. Other Sibling Doubles titles were won by Caroline and Chris Reigeluth, who defeated Suzanne and Grant Schwartz, 3-0, in the Mixed division and Julia and Lauralynn Drury, who topped Alli and Kristen Rubin 3-1, in the Sister/Sister draw.
Pierrepont and McGuinness Capture Mixed Title
Suzie Pierrepont (PA) teamed with Trevor McGuinness (PA) to win the Open Division of the 2009 U.S. Mixed Doubles Squash Championships in Berwyn, PA. Pierrepont, coming off wins in both the Women’s and Mixed divisions at the National U25 Doubles Championships, and McGuinness, her partner in the U25 mixed, used their superior power and court coverage to dispatch Emily Lungstrum (NY) and Ryan O’Connell (NY) in the final, 16-14, 15-8, 15-2.
Ed Chilton (DE)/Joyce Davenport (PA) d. Tom Harrity (PA)/Dawn Gray (PA) 15-8, 6-15, 17-14, 8-15, 15-7
Jennifer Edson (PA)/Peter Stokes (PA) d. Sara Luther (CO)/Fred Duboc (CO) 17-14, 18-16, 14-17, 9-15, 15-9