From US Squash High Lobs, Higher Praise

By Kevin Klipstein

The W. Stewart Brauns Jr. Award is a national honor presented by U.S. SQUASH to a person who has made substantial administrative contributions to squash. Brauns was a U.S. Squash Board President from 1969- 1971 and intimately involved in squash’s administration for years. The honor has recently been awarded in 2010 to Danielle Maur of Life Time Fitness, in 2008 to Jahangir Khan for his eight years of service as Chair of World Squash Federation, in 2003 to Chris Janton for his more than a decade of volunteer service to the Association in supporting the website, and in 2002 to Charles Crawford for providing pro bono legal services for years.

The 2012 recipient is an active squash player and has been for more than two decades. He’s active in recording club matches, plays on a district league team, and competes in the U.S. Masters and Skill Level Championships each year. Currently ranked 236th in men’s 4.5, down from 66 and 37 in the last two seasons, and ranked 25th in men’s 45+, down from 16th in the prior season. It’s safe to say he just made the turn and is on the back nine of his squash playing career!

All of this is relevant in that no one is more passionate about squash, and what is sometimes referred to as the “metagame”, everything outside of the game itself, including the formats, scoring, rules, rankings, and the presentation of the sport, than the recipient of this award.

I’ve known Jay D. Prince, the publisher of this magazine since we met through a mutual friend in 1993. At the time he was publishing Junior Tennis magazine and I was a teaching pro in Seattle. We battled on the court in a regular game every week for several years. The matches were always close, with the majority of matches ending, despite his high lobs, with my thinking I should have beaten him worse than I did, and him thinking he should not have lost!

Even back then, before either of us was as deeply involved in the sport as we both are now, we talked in depth, like so many players do, about how to grow the sport and make it better—this is Jay’s true passion, and he’s always thinking about how to get the squash community and each individual player more engaged in the sport.

One of Jay’s leading theories in the 16 years he has published Squash Magazine has been that if you build the pros into stars, broader interest in the sport will follow. This has been an uphill battle for nearly two decades, not helped by the fact that there have been few US players making a scene internationally or too highly ranked, much less No. 1.

With the recent success of the Delaware Investments U.S. Open, seeing what the production level has become, with a sellout crowd of nearly 1,000 fans at the finals, lines at the autograph booth, and seeing the players treated like the stars they deserve to be, must have been extremely gratifying for him.

Squash is fortunate to have benefitted from Jay’s dedication and commitment to the game for nearly two decades. I was so pleased to honor Jay at our Annual Assembly this fall, formally recognizing everything he has put into and added to the game. Anticipating a challenge requesting a rematch after the jabs included in this piece, perhaps we will live stream it for our more personal additions to the metagame.

Congratulations Jay, and thank you.

By Kevin Klipstein