Saturday, May 1st, marked the fourth annual SquashBusters Derby in Boston, a truly unique event in which seven teams, each comprised of a professional, five amateurs, and two SquashBusters kids, face off in an afternoon of round robin play, with the top two teams meeting in the evening for a finals showdown. The event supports SquashBusters, an after-school enrichment program that incorporates squash, academics and community service into the lives of Boston’s urban youth. This year’s Derby hosted the likes of Jonathon Power, Peter Nicol, Martin Heath, Chris Walker, Gary Waite, Preston Quick, and Dan Sharplin. The Derby brought in a record-breaking $273,000, and with 194 guests this year, Northeastern University’s Badger & Rosen SquashBusters Center brought Boston’s devoted squash fans together for a spectacular night.
With round robin games set at nine point PAR scoring, each player moved relatively quickly through matches against the other six teams. By the time attendees arrived, Teams Wallbanger and GiddyUp had tallied up enough wins to make it to the finals. As fans stood outside the glass with cocktails flowing and appetizers at arm’s length, the two teams squared off in fifteen point PAR scoring games to see who’d walk away with the Derby victory. Onlookers could purchase ‘lets’ in the form of beanbags, and should a diehard fan want to see a point replayed, he need only to throw the bag over the glass and onto the court to make it happen. Bags were sent flying in the last matches to the crowd’s delight, with a few of the players staggering off court after grueling ten let games.
What was already a tremendous night of squash became truly memorable, however, as the final match took place on center court, with Team Wallbanger’s Martin Heath pitted against Team GiddyUp’s Jonathon Power. A last minute handicap auction harnessed Power with a purple dress and strategically placed stuffing, a blonde wig, Derby hat, and floral handbag before he stepped on court with a non-handicapped Heath. It’s rare enough these days to see these hallmark icons of squash face to face in match play, let alone be given the opportunity to see one of them decorated in feminine attire while on court. This year’s event made it happen, however, and the crowd went wild as Power managed to top Heath despite the clear disadvantage. With blonde hair flowing and a handbag slung over his left shoulder, Power was in top form as he pulled out the win.
This year’s Derby brought some of the world’s greatest players into Boston’s strong squash community for a powerhouse night of playing and festivities, giving SquashBusters the opportunity to continue to thrive as it has since 1996. This tradition will hopefully continue for years to come, as it provides the organization’s kids the chance to see, through watching the sport’s seasoned pros in action, the determination, focus, and motivation required to succeed on and off court.