Harry Cowles

While down in Aiken, I met with Bob Harrington.

Bob has been a resident of Aiken since 1947 (he was the head of Aiken Prep from 1971-88), so he was very helpful about the history of the tennis court there. He also let me borrow a fascinating scrapbook of his father’s that had a bombshell in it.


Carroll Harrington was the class of 1924 at Harvard. He was the champion of the freshman class in 1921. This was back when Harvard had twenty-nine courts scattered around its houses and hundreds of men who played every day. Harrington then played on the junior varsity his sophomore year and the varsity his junior and senior year, right behind national champion Palmer Dixon. In fact, he had match points against Dixon in the semis of the 1924 college tournament before losing in five.


Harrington played in the first-ever intercollegiate squash match, Harvard v.  Yale, held at the Racquet & Tennis Club in February 1923. Harvard won 4-1, with only Lucien Williams of Yale scoring for the Eli (Williams was the 1922 intercollegiate tennis champion). The Harvard v. Yale squash rivalry is thus the oldest in the world, as Oxford and Cambridge didn’t start playing each other until 1926.


I learned that Harry Cowles first came over to help Harvard squash in 1921-22 rather than a year later. So it was fifteen seasons in Cambridge, not fourteen. He was called Henry Cowles in the papers, which quoted him on his notions of coaching: “I’d like to add that I teach the game as it was played by Dr. John Cummin of the Harvard Club. I consider his game most skillful and based on the theory of billiard shots.”


Cummin, I learned by poking around the web, was the class of 1892, a doctor and a member of the Harvard Club of Boston’s squash committee. And apparently, he was the source of wisdom for the greatest squash coach in history.



One thought on “Harry Cowles”

  1. Did Mr. Harrington play squash after his graduation from Harvard? I have never read or seen his name anywhere, either in Boston or NY relating to squash. Why did Harvard play Yale in NYC in 1923 at the then relatively new R+T Club? That seems odd. Finally, who is Dr. John Cummin? Another completely foreign name. Was there any mention of Ralph Powers?

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