Name dropping has become the modus operandi of journalists when they talk about squash: Roger Federer, Pervez Musharraf, John Dryden.
The latest media mentions:
—The Times of London ran an interesting piece during the Wimbledon fortnight about how squash has helped out tennis players. It has gotten so common that the Times figures there is a new shot derived from all this squash playing: the wrist hinge. It is a forehand flick. It appears when playing a serve or cross-court “wide out on the stretch,” as the Times describes it and you slice it back with a lot of wrist and a touch of hope. Federer played squash regularly as a child with his father; Andy Murray grew up playing as well. Time to get the U.S. Open finalists to the real U.S. Open—the squash Open.
—Harvard Magazine mentioned in its July-August issue that the university’s oldest alum, Al Gordon, ‘23, was unable to make it to his 85th reunion this June (excuses, excuses….I mean everyone should go to their 85th reunion). Al had his 107th birthday in July. He is also the grandfather of seventy-eighth ranked squash star Chris Gordon. I guess that is like shooting your age in golf: getting your world squash ranking under your grandfather’s age.
—This summer Alex Beam started producing the most interesting, insightful and entirely snark-free squash blog this side of The Direct. Beam, a twice-a-week columnist at the Boston Globe and a high C player, has written more than a half dozen entries at the website for Vanity Fair. Beam, with a delightfully wry tone, dilates on such items as Mushaffarf’s game, Victor Niederhoffer’s daughter Galt, squash at the White House and summer camp at Wesleyan.
My favorite entry was about squash at the New Yorker in the 1970s and 1980s. Very cleverly he got Dan Menaker to do the dilating for him. Menaker remembered the New Yorker’sladder, posted on a bulletin board on the 19th floor of the old offices; watching Sharif Khan v. Niederhoffer at a tournament; and the general vibe of the early eighties: “Squash was a huge deal for a while back then—everybody played or tried to.”
Menaker did mention Herbert Warren Wind, the one renowned New Yorker writer (and former player) but he did forget one classic: the real “Khan,” E.J. Kahn, Jr. This Kahn never wrote about the game for the magazine like Wind, but he did mention squash a couple of times in his famously dishy memoir About The New Yorker & Me: A Sentimental Journey (G.P. Putnam, 1979). Kahn talked about playing doubles with John McPhee at a court in New Jersey (either Princeton or Sea Bright?). He said that McPhee, the great nonfiction writer, had a solid game, “straightforward and first-rate.”
Kahn also had a great story about Allison Danzig, the old squash and tennis writer. He offered to give Danzig, rushing for a train after the finals, a lift from the national tennis doubles at Longwood back to New York. But his brakes froze up. They had to take a taxi from Worcester to Boston (couldn’t have been cheap) and finally arrived back in New York at one in the morning. Kahn doesn’t say this, but it must have been cool to have Danzig alone for that long, to pick the memory of the guy knew more about racquet sports than anyone else alive.