18 February 1923

Today was the day that collegiate squash started a century ago. The men’s squash teams of Harvard and Yale played each other in February 1923 at the Racquet & Tennis Club. This is the global start of university squash—the annual varsity match between Oxford and Cambridge began in December 1925.

Harvard beat Yale 4-1. The only Eli to win was Luke Williams, then the national intercollegiate tennis champion. Crimson winners included Palmer Dixon, future National Singles champion and Carroll Harrington, who I wrote about here a dozen years ago:


There is some confusion about whether this historic match was played on Saturday the 17th or Sunday the 18th. The New York Times reported on Monday the 19th that they played on the 18th:


The Crimson, the Harvard school newspaper, also published a piece on the match on Monday the 19th. They said that it occurred on Saturday the 17th:


Today, on the exact day—or perhaps a day late—I went to New York to quietly celebrate the centennial. The R&T courts used by Dixon and Williams have long been renovated out of recognition. But I could hear a squash ball being thumped on a court, echoing down long passageways, and I thought this is enough: the sound of a ball hitting a wall, the squeak of sneakers, the call of the score.

Those ten men in February 1923 didn’t know it, but their matches were the start of one of the greatest stories in all of squash.