U.S. Father & Son

Perennial finalists in the U.S. Father & Son, Will Simonton (sliding) and father Scott (3rd from left) put up a tough fight against eventual winners Carson (2nd from left) and father Chris Spahr.
Perennial finalists in the U.S. Father & Son, Will Simonton (sliding) and father Scott (3rd from left) put up a tough fight against eventual winners Carson (2nd from left) and father Chris Spahr.

By James Zug

Thirty-five teams competed in the 2013 U.S. Father-Son Squash Championships in New York in April.

This was the ninth annual event and it was as robust as it was when it started in 2005, with a half dozen teams from that inaugural year on hand again eight years later. As usual, matches were held at the Racquet & Tennis Club, the New York Athletic Club and the University Club of New York. A celebratory dinner on Friday evening was, as usual, held at the R&T.

In the 19-team open draw, a coming-of-age was visible, as the fourth-seeded pair of Chris & Carson Spahr triumphed. Last year, their first in the open draw, the Spahrs were stopped in a five-game epic match by defending champions Geordie & BG Lemmon, 15-13 in the fifth; the Lemmons went on to win it again.

This year, Spahr v. Lemmon II, again in the semis, was the high watermark of the tournament. Both sons had a lot going on off court. BG Lemmon had just returned from a gap-year two-month, squash-less outing to New Zealand and Australia (he’s heading to Penn this fall). Carson had just had a horrible week in Boston—he joined his doctor at mile 20 of the Boston Marathon to run the last half a dozen miles together; they were at mile 25 when the bombing occurred, with his family heading to the finish line to watch them finish.

With the fathers on the left and the teenagers on the right, the two teams traded the first two games, the third was 15-10 and in the fourth everything got very very tight. The Spahrs went up 14-12. Then BG smacked a low straight drop and Geordie smacked an unreachable rail and they had saved two match balls. Surprisingly, the Spahrs didn’t choose no-set to garner another match ball opportunity, but selected set-three. They went up 2-0. Six protracted, hard-hitting points ensued, all ending with lets. On the seventh, the Lemmons again put the ball away. But three saved match points was all they had in the tank, and the Spahrs survived 17-15.

The other semi was equally interesting. The Simontons, Scott and Will, have made the finals in seven of the past eight Father & Sons, making their first-round loss in the inaugural 2005 draw seem like an anomaly. In this year’s semis, they faced the 2010 winners, Sandy and Josh Schwartz. Sandy was in full weekend warrior mode—supports on both ankles, both knees and one elbow—and valiantly fought off young Will’s blistering cross-courts. But the Simontons won in four to set up another final for them. The Spahrs, definite favorites, barely squeaked through in three tight games, winning 16-14, 15-13, 15-12.

It was a record fifth Father & Son title for the Spahrs. Four days later Carson turned 16. Conceivably, they might add a couple more titles until they qualify for the century draw in 2032.

Finalists last year in the 15-and-under draw, Harry & Samuel Curtis didn’t lose a single game to win the 17-and-under, three-team round-robin. The 13-and-under division final came down to a five-game thriller between Peter S. & Peter C. Miller, and Max &; Michael Finkelstein. The Finkelsteins had knocked out last year’s winners, Todd & Bo Anderson in the opening round and went up 2-0 in the finals. But the Millers were the comeback team of the weekend (they had come back from a 1-2 deficit against Tom & Michael Harrity in the semis) and they roared back to take the third game 15-14 and then the next two.

The century was a four-team round robin draw but all four teams had previously won the tournament, so it was high-quality drama. All but one of the six matches were close. Jim Zug, Sr. & Jr. (116 combined years of age) returned after a four-year absence to claim their second title together. Both the Jack Wyants, Sr. and Jr. (106), and Tom & Morgan Poor (104) pushed them to four, very taut games. The longest match of the entire weekend came in the century: it was the Wyants against the James McLain, Jr. & III (113). The Wyants, down 1-2, managed to capture it in overtime in the fifth.

“It is always exciting to watch the tremendous athletic accomplishments being displayed with the family dynamics at play,” said Simon Aldrich, the Father & Son tournament director. “As Geordie Lemmon said on Friday night, it is always special for them to put on the same jersey and play the sport they love together.”