Northern California Squash Inducts Inaugural Hall of Fame Class
by John Lau

Left to right: Matthew Eichmann (Alex Eichmann's son), Dick Crawford,
Tom Dashiell,
Brett Elebash, John Lau, Bruce Gaynor (Peter Gaynor's son),
David Tepper

photo courtesy Steve Line

October 3rd, 2019

Even after the long passing of years, the game of squash keeps on giving, and giving, and giving.

On a cool and brisk Monday evening on the last day in September at the Finals of the Oracle Netsuite Open, a special group of squash players was feted as the first class of the Northern California Squash Racquets Association's Hall of Fame.

All were enthusiastic players. All were players of accomplishment. However, this group should be remembered not for their playing victories, but for their acts of generosity of giving back to the game.  They voluntarily served as Presidents and Secretary of NorCal. They were supporters, leaders, and promoters of Squash.

This group was the living embodiment of the game that we all love.

They are the doyens of the game in Northern California.

Alex Eichmann

Alex was one of the most significant figures in the history of Northern California squash.

A superb all-around athlete, he excelled in many other sports. 

Eichmann dominated squash on the Pacific Coast with more than 40 tournament wins, highlighted by winning the Pacific Coast Singles Championships in ’67, ’69, ’70 and ’72. He was also a six-time California State Singles Champion.

In 1975, he retired from competition but not from squash. Alex built the 4 hardball court Peninsula Squash Club in San Mateo, and later the 8 hardball court Squash Club of San Francisco which in 1983, hosted the US National Hardball Championships.

Eichmann’s enormous contributions sealed his status as one of the leading figures of West Coast squash.

Dick Crawford

Crawford came to California after an impressive sports career in college and then the US Army.

In 1969, Dick founded the Northern California Squash Racquets Association and served as its first president. During his tenure, to satisfy the hunger of organized play, he formed an extremely successful inter-club league system that exists to this day.

From the very beginning, Dick saw the bright hope and potential of Cal squash. As the energetic coach, Dick inspired his players to follow that vision. They loved their coach. He was a natural leader who engendered inspiration with selfless effort, as Crawford took his teams on a quest for glory, but always humbly to the true joy of hard work and commitment by always giving everything they had.

Peter Gaynor

Peter Gaynor had a spiritual side dedicated to squash, particularly doubles squash; so much so that he was considered the high priest of his spiritual group. He would frequently show that spiritual side by traveling to his favorite place of worship and entering the plain and simple building that was his spiritual home. He would always, without fail, dress reverently and carefully in simple clothes including his signature sleeveless vest adorned with a smiling Jester on it.

While playing, Peter enjoyed to joke and banter with the three others in his place of worship. Peter’s love of communion extended beyond the chamber of worship and his ability to quip would grow throughout the evening. Succeeding Crawford, Peter was also a President of NorCal Squash who in 1983 led the successful effort to host the US National Singles Championships in San Francisco.

Brett Elebash

Elebash’s squash education began in earnest at San Mateo's Peninsula Squash Club where she was initially taught by club owner extraordinaire Alex Eichmann.

In the ‘77-78 season, Brett won the Cal State Championship women’s title with a notable win by defeating Nancy Gengler, the 1976 U.S. Intercollegiate Champion.

After playing for several years in the Bay Area, she dominated the NorCal Women’s A Championships from ’78 through ‘83 earning the #1 ranking each year.

After the 1979-80 season, Elebash became the first woman player from Northern California to earn a US national ranking.

In 2001, Brett was also bestowed the U.S. National Singles 45+ Women's Softball Title. Amidst her victories, she served as Secretary for NorCal Squash.

John Lau

Growing up in San Francisco, John Lau was always regarded as a striving athlete.

Over the course of his storied career, John collected innumerable important victories. Among his triumphs were the 1991 and 1992 U.S. National 35+ Singles Championships.  In 1989, turning his efforts to doubles, he, with his partner Gordon Anderson, won the US National Doubles 40+ Championship.

John is also being feted for his unflagging devotion to the game of squash, and for guiding many legions of players through his kindness and encouragement, regardless of skill or professional levels. For over 30 years he guided the squash program at the University Club of SF and, more broadly, across Northern California.

Among many other contributions to the growth and health of the game, for two years, John served as President of NorCal Squash.

Tom Dashiell

As a Bay Area newcomer in the mid-seventies, Tom Dashiell announced his arrival by winning the Ralfe Miller Invitational at UC Berkeley to begin the 1974-75 season.

An outstanding season with many tournament wins was capped by Tom winning the season-ending NorCal Championship.

For the 1975-76 season, Dashiell completed a clean sweep of California squash titles by winning the NorCal/University Club Championships - his seventh tournament victory of that season.

Tom also contributed to the advancement of the game as President of NorCal Squash.

David Tepper

David Tepper was a two-term NorCal President (1976-1978), and under his able leadership, the Association grew at a remarkable rate.

Under his stewardship, NorCal squash membership nearly doubled and sixteen new courts were built in the West Bay.

This expansion also created greater responsibility for him and his fellow NorCal officers.

He led the game's growth which provided players, particularly women and juniors, greater opportunities to play in the region.

David’s highlight while in college was playing #1 for Cornell against Harvard. In his playing career, David won numerous titles including California State and Pacific Coast doubles titles.

During their playing careers, the crowning achievement among this group was not their tournament titles nor their individual achievements but their administrative leadership and contributions to the growth and health of the game.

We salute them all.

photo courtesy Steve Line