Recently I attended a dinner for Haverford School’s sixteenth Athletic Hall of Fame.
Three squash players were inducted. They followed in the path of a dozen other illustrious squash players and coaches: (in order of induction) Ralph Howe, Fred Thornton, the 1982-83 team, Carter Fergusson, Bill MacCoy, Ed Mack, Steve Vehslage, Sam Howe, Mike Mayock, the 1976-77 team, Bill Prizer, Russ Ball, the 1978-79 team, Rick Campbell and Ed Garno.
This year’s was poignant, as two of the inductees were no longer with us.
Tanny Sargent was an early pioneer of squash in Philadelphia and the best player to come out of Haverford before the Second World War. Sargent was twice captain of the Haverford team. At Harvard, captained the freshman team and then the varsity. In 1934, his sophomore year he reached the finals of the National Intercollegiates to face his teammate and classmate Germain Gladden. Sargent went up 2-1, Glidden grabbed the fourth and then Sargent, in an unprecedented flurry, bageled Glidden 15-0 in the fifth. This was an extraordinary result—Glidden was a giant and a future U.S. Squash Hall of Fame.
Sargent went on to reach the semis of the National Singles in 1935, losing a tight five-gamer to the defending champion, and Sargent & Glidden won the Canadian National Doubles that year, one of the rare times that collegiate players have done that. Lincoln Werden of the New York Times wrote after Sargent appeared at the 1934 Gold Racquets at Rockaway Hunt Club: “Although his cannonading serve was perhaps one of the outstanding phases of his game, Sargent’s anticipation of shots and his excellent racquet work earned him the praise of the onlookers.”
Sargent suffered an ankle injury that put him out of his senior year at Harvard, and then soon after college he had a heart condition diagnosed which put an end to his short but brilliant career.
Another player lost far too soon was Colin Campbell. Colin played on the varsity at Haverford for five seasons (a remarkable achievement considering that the team was the strongest in the country). His senior year he captained the team to a 19-1 record, the only loss coming at the hands of Princeton’s junior varsity. Like Sargent, Campbell went on to play at Harvard, where his team won two national titles. He died of cancer in September 2013 at the age of forty-three.
The third squash inductee was Morris Clothier. Like Campbell, he played on the varsity for five seasons and was captain his senior year. Clothier had one of the greatest scholastic careers in U.S. squash history, going 90-6 in those five years, often playing at #1, with the six losses coming to college players. Clothier went on to be a four-time All American at Franklin & Marshall, a nine-time winner of the National Doubles, a chair of the US Squash Doubles Committee and winner of the 2008 President’s Cup.