Ralph Powers

Recently, I received an amazing package from Guy Cipriano. It was a copy of the massive, two-hundred page scrapbook once owned by Ralph Powers. It is owned by Guy’s college roommate’s wife, who is the granddaughter of Powers.

Powers was born in Maine in September 1893—when he was a boy his father was governor—and went to Bowdoin and then Harvard, class of 1914. He was a top squash player who employed finesse and controlled shot-making. He played at the Boston Athletic Association and later numerous clubs in Boston, New York and Connecticut.

In 1925 Powers won the Canadian national singles, beating Sid Clark in four in the finals; in 1927 he got the Middlesex Bowl, coming back from an 0-2 deficit in the finals to Myles Baker (who a month later won the National Singles); in 1928 he was on the U.S. tour of Great Britain (he lost in the first round of the English amateur championships after saving six match points); and in 1936 he captured the second-ever men’s national 40+ title. His most famous victory was probably in the 1924 Lapham when he went on court for the final match with the team score at 2-2 and he pulled off a tight four-game win, the fourth game in a tiebreaker, to clinch a 3-2 victory for the U.S.

Extraordinary player and leader: he was president of US Squash from 1929 to 1932.

The scrapbook is full of interesting tidbits. One I noticed: Edward Ford, Jr. wrote in March 1930 about the style of dress seen at the 1930 National Singles women’s draw, held at Merion Cricket Club: “Women squash players generally might be interested in the correct apparel for a champion. Although a few bloomers were worn by contenders, and shorts were numerous, both Mrs. Wightman, the champion, and Miss Hall, the runner-up, played in skirts.”