Team USA won its fourth Can-Am Cup this weekend at the Wilmington Country Club and Vicmead Hunt Club in Delaware.
The tournament was decided on the final day as Canada edged the U.S. 28-26 to claim the men’s Bernheimer-Bell trophy, but the U.S. women won the Gillen-Pierce trophy 22-14 to put the U.S. ahead in the overall score 48-42.
The Can-Am Cup is usually referred to as the “Ryder Cup of Squash”. The Top sixty doubles players from each country converged on Wilmington. The best two teams in each age group, which included, Open, 40+, 45+, 50+, 55+, 60+, 65+, 70+, and 75+ for men and women played three matches each.
The men played for the Bernheimer-Bell Trophy and the women played for the Gillen-Pierce Trophy. The overall winners won the Can-Am Cup. Team USA was victorious in 2008 in the first running of the event in Boston. In Toronto, Ont. (2010), USA edged out Canada in the overall score despite the U.S. men losing their division. In 2012, Canada won by just 3 points in Buffalo, NY, and in Montreal, the USA reclaimed the cup in 2014.
Each country’s respective captains selected team members based upon a player/teams ranking by US Squash and Squash Canada. Those players who won the U.S. National Doubles Championships as well as those players ranked No. 1 in their respective age group on their respective walls were automatically invited to play. Each team selected for the event plays two matches as well as a lightning round match. This year’s Canadian Captain was Chris Wheeler, and his Vice Captains were Pat Richardson and Al Hunt as well as women’s Vice Captains Stephanie Hewitt and Cathy Covernton. USA Captains were Mike McGorry, Lenny Bernheimer and Morris Clothier. USA Women’s Captains were Molly Pierce, Lee Belknap and Emily Lungstrum.
The sixth Can-Am Cup moves north of the border in 2018 to Toronto.
Read a recap of the final day from Team USA captain Mike McGorry below:
For those of you that missed the finale on Sunday I only have one thing to say: YOU SHOULD HAVE STUCK AROUND. It was one of the most compelling and exciting finishes anyone could imagine. Going into Sunday mornings final twelve matches (6 men’s and 6 women’s) the U.S. was up two points in the Women’s bracket, down two points in the Men’s and all tied in the overall. Here is what transpired:
Whitten Morris and Steve Scharff blew an 11-5 first game lead but came back to beat Canada’s Leckie/Baldwin team 3-1. On the Women’s side, Vaughan Easter and Traci Greer pulled off a huge upset beating Hill/Tuckwell in a five game thriller. After one match we were now up three points overall, up 3.5 in the women’s and down only .5 in the Men’s.
Next up came Dave Rosen and Doug Hoffberger who thrashed Canada’s Deratnay and Burnham 3-0 while the Belknap twins beat Auld/Conquergood 3-1. Looking good at this point as we were now up 6.0 in the overall, 1.0 in the men’s and and 5.0 in the Women’s.
Within minutes of the finish of these two matches it was learned that both American Men’s teams (Pierce-Anderson and Brazilian-Davison) had lost their matches over at Vic Mead. In addition, Susan Rose and Beth Rasin were defeated by Frost/Castellino. The euphoria that had surrounded the U.S. team a few minutes earlier was now muted. We were now down 2.0 in the men’s, up 3.0 in the Women’s and were precariously close in the overall (Up 1.0).
Next up for the Women were Kat Grant and Lissen Tutron v Canadian 45+ Champs Multimaki/McNeil. Grant and Tutrone, due in part it seemed to their “lively” participation in Saturday night’s festivities, went down 2-1. There was concern, however, but there was no panic. The U.S. Duo came back to win in five games. With four matches left we were up 2.5 in the overall, up 4.5 in the Women’s and still down 2.0 in the Men’s.
Phoebe Trubowitz and Hope Crosier took the court knowing that a win would clinch the overall. Up 4.5 points, a win would give us a 6 point lead and would allow Canada only the possibility of tying the score. Since the US.. held the Can-Am Cup they would retain on a tie. Crosier went down but fought back to beat Canada’s Sangster/Warden to clinch the Cup.
Which left three matches to go. While Phoebster and Hope were winning, the match of the tournament was going on at Court 1. Needing a win in one of the final two men’s events to clinch the Bernheimer-Bell Trophy, Canada’s Scott Stoneberg and Dean Brown were the heavy favorites over Chris Spahr and Ed Garno. Stoneberg was, coming into the match, undefeated in Can-Am competition over the four previous events. The pressure was on from the start with Spahr/Garno getting a 15-13 first game victory. Canada came back and won games 2 and 3. With Garno hitting winners and Spahr running everything down the U.S. team evened the match at two games apiece setting up a frantic fifth game. The entire gallery was packed. After each point chants of CANADA or USA USA were screamed. The fifth was tied at 10 all when Canada ran ff four straight points to take a 14-10 lead: Five match points. Five Bernheimer/Bell Trophy points. At 14-10 Spahr hit a winner. At 14-11 Brown hit tin. A Garno winner and a Spahr nick brought double match point, 14 all in the fifth. After a long rally Spahr found himself set up for a straight drop winner. He hit the ball and the U.S. Crowd exploded as victory seemed evident. There were cries from the Canadians and their fans that the ball had nicked the very top of the tin. The crowd was split, what would the referee and judges rule? In a display of sportsmanship that you rarely find in today’s world Chris Spahr indicated that he believed that his shot had struck the very top of the tin, thus eliminating any referee controversy and thus giving Canada the win in the Men’s division.
It turned out that the Spahr tin was dispositive and American’s Lifford and Thain won the last match of the men’s event easily over Canada’s Zander/Hall 3-0. In addition, Alicia McConnell, subbing for the injured Dawn Grey, made quick work of Canada’s White and Burton.
In the end it was U.S. Women 22, Canada Women 14; Canada Men 28, U.S. Men 26 with the US retaining the Can-Am Cup 48-42.