Recently I ran into some articles about the old Princeton tennis coach, Mercer Beasley, who also helped out with the Tigers’ squash teams in the 1930s. The articles were interesting, especially this July 1957 piece from Sports Illustrated:
Yet both of them avoided what was the bizarre and well-known scandal at the heart of the Beasley story. In 1938 Beasley’s wife Audrey famously divorced Beasley to marry his longtime protege and their foster son, Frankie Parker. She was in her forties; he was twenty-two. You hear about coaches getting involved with their players, but less so the coach’s wife.
This might explain what Jack Kramer wrote in his memoirs about how Beasley changed Parker’s forehand for the worse, turning him from topspin to underspin and causing Parker’s ranking to plummet as a result. But Parker went on to be the great U.S. champion of the 1940s. Moreover, apparently everyone was amicable and friendly afterwards, with Beasley sending Parker congratulatory telegrams, and Audrey and Parker remained married until she died in 1971.
In New York the Racquet & Tennis Club hosted the Silver Racquets. In the squash dubs draw, Baset Ashfaq & Gustav Detter beat 2010 national champions Steve Scharff & Dylan Patterson on their way to the semis; Whitten Morris & Addison West won the draw.
In Montreal the weekend before, the twenty-fifth and final Smith Chapman was played. Seventy-five teams came for another great Smitty. Smith Chapman was a giant on the court in the sixties across the continent and administratively afterwards. He died in 1987 after an heart attack at the end of a squash match. They are shutting down the tournament, which honors one of the giants of our game.
And in Philadelphia last weekend, SquashSmarts celebrated its tenth annniversary with a gala evening at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia. It was tremendously fun with almost three hundred people. I played in a court tennis exhibition, down the hall from serious squash doubles action (the Pierce family filling out one match by themselves). Then downstairs we had a live auction, a viciously competitive silent auction and a lot of good chatter. I ended winning a bid on a Dartmouth squash tee-shirt—COLLEGE!
You just have to love Trinity’s first practice of the season, at 12:01am on the first of November. Just hope that the NESCAC’s don’t decide to switch the first practice to say 25 October or 5 November…..
Squash finally came last week to my favorite television show, The Office.
At the end of the episode “Doomsday,” Jim gets on court with Robert California for a nice little game. Jim, having never played before, shows up in all-whites—the whole premise is that squash is a preppy game, so I must wear white; California is in colors—the whole premise being that squash’s preppy image is not reality. Well, that is one way to read into it. Jim’s pretty awful at squash (so is California) but they are wearing protective eyewear, which was a nice touch.
Now, The Office is set in Scranton and there are no courts in Scranton. The nearest might be Allentown, a lone and possibly neglected hardball court at Muhlenberg College; or more likely Easton, where there are six softball courts at Lafayette College. The show is filmed in Los Angeles, so we’ll wait to hear which club.
Eton College’s racquets team came to Philadelphia last week on a tour of the East Coast. I had the pleasure to getting beaten up by not one but two Etonians on the racquets court. This was followed by a long dinner in town with them, which included hearing about an upcoming game amongst alums in New York City of the Eton Field Game.
I know: racquets is pretty obscure, but surely the Field Game is even more unknown, played solely at one British prep school. Makes racquets positively a mass game.