The 106th National Singles finished on Sunday at the Philadelphia Cricket Club to produce six repeat champions out of fourteen divisions.
One year after becoming the all-time masters title holder with his twenty-ninth victory, Jay Nelson aged up to the 75+ division. There he defeated Jim Zug, Sr. in three games to win an unprecedented thirtieth national title.
“Thirty feels pretty good,” Nelson said. “I was moving well and just figured I would run and hit, retrieve, and try to bang the ball deep and it worked. Jim was a really good opponent today, it was a fun match. I actually thought a little bit about staying in the 70’s, but I’ve never played down at nationals so I stuck with it. I love this tournament and I love the game.”
The eldest age group, men’s 80+ with eleven players, yielded a first-time champion in the form of Paul Segal. He scrambled back from 2-0 down in the final to defeat 2012 and 2013 champion Philip Leis in an epic five-game final. Leis was the oldest entry in the tournament at the age of eighty-five.
After losing the 2016 70+ final against Nelson, Canada’s Gerry Poulton returned to the National Singles to win a fifth title in six years in a four-game 70+ final against Ned Monaghan.
In the 65+ division, Arizona’s Don Sheer didn’t drop a game on his way to winning a third consecutive 65+ and fifth overall title, which culminated with a final victory against Bruce Brickman.
The second women’s 60+ draw to be held saw Carole Grunberg successfully defend her title in four games against Diana Roper. An international men’s 60+ final saw Trinidad & Tobago’s John Holley defeat Canada’s Wayne Weatherhead in four games to claim his first National Singles title.
England’s Jill Campion, the women’s 55+ two seed, defeated top seed Beth Fedorowich in a four-game final to earn her first National Singles title.
British Open masters double champion Hope Prockop celebrated her tenth career National Singles title with a three-game final victory over Lissa Kenney in the 40+/45+ final.
“Number ten feels awesome,” Prockop said. “I have my sights set on ten more and then the World Masters coming up in July 2018. We’re looking forward to welcoming players from around the world, and I’ll be in the 50s then and look forward to a whole new round of opponents.”
Prockop, a 1990 Harvard grad and Boston native, said that mid match when her racquet frame cracked, she reached in her bag and chose her Amanda Sobhy signature racquet “the Beast” in honor of the Team USA player who sustained a terrible injury Friday night.
The 50+ finals saw renewed rivalries in both finals. Juliana Lilien notched her ninth National Singles title and first 50+ with a three-game final victory against Julie Kessler. New Zealand/Canada’s Steve Wren earned his first National Singles title in three years and sixth overall with a five-game marathon final win over Anders Wahlstedt.
Local coaches Alex Stait and Michael Fiteni won their first National Singles titles. Fiteni came back from 2-0 down in the 40+ final to win in five games, while Stait pulled off a perfect tournament without dropping a game to top the 35+ round robin.
Richard Millman won his third consecutive 55+ title in a four-game final against perennial rival Dominic Hughes. This is Millman’s seventh career National Singles title.
“I’m absolutely delighted and surprised to have won,” Millman said. “I love playing Dominic. He’s usually the stronger, but every once in a while I get lucky. I just love the brand of squash he plays. It’s the game of squash that I believe in playing, using the height on the front wall and deception. I’m just really pleased with the way I’ve played all week. I’m grateful to my coach of twenty years—my wife Pat—to my sponsors and to US Squash for bringing the event to Philly Cricket. We’ve had a good time here, and it’s great to involve the clubs that laid the foundation of squash in this country. We don’t want to forget them just because we’re trying to grow the game everywhere. They’re still a big part of our sport.”
Last summer, Millman organized a Team USA trip to the World Masters in Johannesburg, South Africa, and the squash ambassador hopes for a strong turn out from North Americans next summer when Charlottesville brings the tournament stateside for the first time.
“The World Masters is the only squash party, in my experience, that compares with the National Singles,” Millman said. “Nationals is a place where we all come together, not just to compete, but to celebrate each other and this incredible community that we have. I hope that we can match what South Africa did. They had more than 500 people enter the 2016 World Masters, many of whom had never played a major tournament before. I hope Americans, Canadians, Mexicans and Caribbeans will come out and support and celebrate our sport at the wonderful facility in Charlottesville. I hope we get lots of people from thirty-fives all the way up to eighty-fives.”
For more in formation on the 2018 World Masters in Charllotesville, Virginia, July 28-August 4, visit www.wmsquash.com.
View 2017 National Singles images on the US Squash SmugMug page.