People are still talking about last month’s dinner at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions. The word you kept hearing was “glittering.”
The sixth annual 2010 World Squash Awards finally came across the pond. Peter Nicol and Tim Garner, through their sports marketing firm, Eventis, started the WSA in 2005 with a black-tie dinner at the Royal Automobile Club. After three more years at the RAC, they switched to Manchester for the 2009 World Open and this year came to the Tournament of Champions.
It was a star-studded evening. One hundred and sixty people (just six under the maximum capacity allowed by the Grand Central security staff) sat down at the courtside affair and tucked into butternut squash polenta, porcini mushrooms chicken with a roasted shallot sauce and Tuscan panzanella salad. Most WISPA and PSA stars were in attendance—Eventis flies in potential winners. Nour El Tayeb dropped in from Cairo just for the weekend. “I didn’t even bring my squash kit,” the seventeen year old told me as she spoke between media interviews.
Presented by Lexington Partners and Brent Nicklas, it was a nicely inclusive ceremony, with North America getting into the act for the first time: the ISDA was a part of the ceremonies and two special recognitions went to Frank Stella and Mark Talbott. The crowd included Hazel & Tom Jones from North Carolina and Doug Talbott from Atlanta and David Carr from Washington and a slew of other well-wishers.
The elder Talbott sported a blazer with a nifty RAC emblem sewn onto the pocket. Was this a reference to the World Squash Awards dinners at the RAC? Oh, no. I saw the skunk below the RAC—it was the Runnymeade Athletic Club, the court that the Talbotts had down in the Florida Keys. Now gone, it was always dubbed “the southernmost squash court in the U.S.”
People stayed after the dinner until almost the stroke of midnight—so many old and new friends talking—that it looked more like a college reunion than the night before the start of the 78th annual ToC.