Players from around the country gathered at the Merion Cricket Club in Philadelphia for the US Squash Hardball Championships in mid-February. And rounding out the eight divisions was a new Under-23 category that attracted several strong junior players trying their hand at hardball on traditional singles courts—with the Dunlop fuscia hardball.
For the third consecutive year, Eric Pearson flew in from California and captured the Open Championship, again defeating Philadelphia’s Tom Harrity in the final. While Harrity did a phenomenal job of retrieving Pearson’s tight reverse corners, three-wall nicks and powerful tight rails, the pressure was just too great.
Chris Leto claimed the maiden U23 over fellow Philadelphian Spencer Stokes in a sock ‘em rock ‘em battle that went to the wire in the fifth. Both players vowed to become proselytizers for the value of hardball for improving reflexes and aggressiveness for softball.
Repeat winners was the theme this year, with Peter Stokes claiming the 40+ over Gary Figlar; Tefft Smith prevailing over Paul Chan in the 60+; and many time national champion Jim Zug defeating Henry Steinglass for the second straight year in the 65+.
The 70+ Championships featured yet another match between Ted Marmor of New York and Lucky Young of Omaha (NE) with Marmor prevailing this time, 3-0. And Ken Cucuel defeated Austin Graff in the 75+ in a 3-1 see-saw battle.
The most inspiring Championship match saw Bill Wilson defeat Charlie Baker, both from Philadelphia, in the 80+ Division. Bill won 3-0 but it was closer than that, although not as exciting as Charlie’s semifinal win over past champion Tom Dolan, which came down to 18-17 in the fifth game, with all five games in overtime.
All in all, another great US Squash National Championship weekend and a testament to the fun of hardball singles and the lifelong joy that the game of squash can provide.