By James Zug
The Super Bowl of Squash, the commissioner’s Trophy was again contested in Wilmington, Delaware, in February 2013.
Founded in 1975, this Wilmington country club doubles event has always been full of off-court socializing and on-court brilliance, histrionics and occasional bloodletting. Rick Porter, “The commissioner,” Jack Porter, Alex Wise and Jim Dawson started the event. Rick and his wife Betsy hosted a cocktail party on the Friday and there was a major dinner at WCC on Saturday night (“leaving early was unacceptable,” remembers Wise) that sometimes was black-tie and usually had skits, poetry and Broadway songs. After ten years, Porter et al thought the tournament might close, but others took it up and now it is a landmark weekend for Delaware Squash.
In early days, Richie Ashburn came every year (he was an old Phillies teammate of Harry “the Horse” Anderson who had won the inaugural commissioners). Gretchen Spruance, the many-time national champion, played regularly and won the 1986 event. Partly perhaps because of the commissioner’s tradition of never fielding the same partnership twice, injuries have always abounded (the B division is usually called the Black and Blue division) and tears, breaks and a few errant balls into bodies were the norm this year as always.
But the commissioner’s is a hardy group. Alex Wise played in the first thirty straight, even after knocking himself out cold one year by running headlong into a wall. Dawson played in the a division this year, a remarkable 33 years after first winning it.
The XXXIX event saw three full draws. The finals on Sunday afternoon were watched by a capacity crowd, including Jill Biden, Vice President Joe Biden and more than a smattering of Secret Service officers. In the hall of Fame division, Matt Greenberg & Dom Gioffre overcame Beau Biden & Jason homer; in the Free agent division, Herb Matter & Steve Casey beat Jeff Ciconte & andy Wilke; and in the Pro Bowl division, Andy Houston & Jim Zug outlasted Mike Ashley and Pete Moran. Others received awards for the best nickname, for losing all three matches and for wearing the most neoprene and Velcro on court.