Profiles of New Yorkers Stu Goldstein, Jay Nelson, Pete Bostwick, Glenn Greenberg and Ted Gross
by Rob Dinerman

October 2003

Stu Goldstein
   One of the most determined of Sharif Khan's pursuers during the latter's extended period of domination and the best player in the New York metropolitan area for a half-decade encompassing the late 1970's and early 1980's, Stu Goldstein became the first non-Khan in 16 years to win the WPSA Championship when he defeated Gordy Anderson and Rainer Ratinac in the semi-final and final rounds of that event at the Commodore Club in Minnesota in February 1978. He combined immaculate stroke production with extraordinary agility and conditioning to fully earn a spot along with fellow top-five WPSA protagonists Victor Niederhoffer, Clive Caldwell, Mario Sanchez, Michael Desaulniers, Anderson and Ratinac as the top contenders to the crown that Khan wore so proudly for so long.

   It is a bittersweet aspect of the legacy that he and contemporaries Anderson and Caldwell created that all three were fated to have their prime years intersect with the dominant period of the older but ageless Khan, who always loomed up to deny them the major titles that they otherwise would have been winning. This phenomenon is similar to what occurred in the NBA throughout the 1990's, when some of the best basketball players on some of the best teams in the history of the game---from Karl Malone and John Stockton of the Utah Jazz, to Phoenix star forward Charles Barkley to New York center Patrick Ewing to Indiana sharpshooter Reggie Miller to Seattle's outstanding point guard Gary Payton---all found their career-long quests for an NBA championship ring dishearteningly and repeatedly obstructed by the greatness of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

   By the time Sharif finally began to fade in the early 1980's, thereby opening the door for the Sanchez-Desaulniers-Mark Talbott generation to etch their names below his on the permanent trophies of the game's most prestigious events, it was too late for Goldstein and his generation, whose time by then had already passed.

   Certainly, however, it must be said that it was not for lack of trying that Goldstein was never able to quite knock off The Champ in the game's biggest arenas, and that what the stylish Stony Brook graduate (and two-time all-American) WAS able to accomplish was nothing short of superlative. In addition to that '78 WPSA Championship milestone, Goldstein also defeated Sharif en route to winning the '77 Boodles Round-Robin and WPSA tour stops in New York and Montreal in '78 and in Rochester in '80, when his sequential wins over Desaulniers, Khan (both in five) and Sanchez may have represented the finest overall performance of his entire career.

   He also was runner-up to Khan on numerous occasions, the most noteworthy of these being the '77 and '79 WPSA Championship, the '77 Slazenger Philadelphia event, the '77 and '78 Boodles British Gin Open, the '78 Cleaves MSRA Open and the '79 and '80 Boodles Squash World Cup. During that turbulent and exciting era when the WPSA tour was enjoying its greatest period of growth and expansion, only Anderson was able to post more victories over the indomitable and charismatic Pakistani champion than did Goldstein.

  If anything, he may have been guilty of expending TOO much effort in his dedicated push for the No. 1 ranking, relentlessly forcing his smallish and slender frame through punishing daily work-outs both in the squash court and on the track that may have brought on the sequence of injuries, particularly to his back, that required him to withdraw from a number of tournaments and cost him an opportunity to move more quickly up the rankings. Those mishaps and the overall burn-out effects of his full-bore pursuit of Khan's seemingly endless position of pre-eminence may also have contributed to the brevity of Goldstein's career, which ended when he was only 31 years old and seemingly with several productive seasons still ahead of him. One such injury, when he fell heavily on his knee during one of the last few points of his first-ever victory over Niederhoffer in overtime in the fourth in the semi-finals of the '77 Metropolitan Open, caused the joint to swell up overnight to a degree that prevented him from playing in either the next-day final or the North American Open one week later.

   Though terribly disappointed by this setback and the several weeks of enforced inactivity that resulted during the heart of what was at that time a very compressed WPSA season, Goldstein recovered in time for the WPSA Championships in Detroit the following month, where he defeated Caldwell and Niederhoffer on the same day to reach the first of his three consecutive WPSA finals. Exhausted by those successive exploits just hours apart against that season's Nos. 3 and 2 ranked players, Goldstein lost the ensuing final to Khan, who thereby captured this title for a record eighth straight time.

   But when Khan lost to Anderson one year later in the quarter-finals, Goldstein seized on the opportunity generated by the premature elimination of his nemesis, overwhelming a pardonably spent Anderson in the semis, a pattern he would repeat three years later at the Atlantic City event in '81, where Goldstein again defeated Anderson, this time in the final, after Anderson's semi-final upset of Khan. In St. Paul, Goldstein then rose superior to Ratinac, winning a pivotal second game 15-13 before finishing off the match with a 15-8 third-game win that made him the first New Yorker to win the WPSA title in the 32 years since Lester Cummings accomplished the feat back in 1946.

   Goldstein would go on to defeat Khan head-to-head in the final of both the '78 Metropolitan Open that spring and the Montreal Open the following fall before Khan would swing the rivalry permanently back in his favor with final-round wins over Goldstein at the Boodles Gin Open in New York two weeks after Montreal and in the '79 WPSA Championship that spring in Toronto.

   As a Long Islander who was a product of neither a famous squash family (like the Khan clan, which included during that period not only Sharif but his brothers Aziz and Charlie and cousins Mohibullah and Gul in the WPSA top 10), nor a privileged prep-school or Ivy League background nor a vaunted junior program (like "Bentley juniors" Caldwell and Anderson), Goldstein internalized an “outsider” mind-set from fairly early on that was furthered by his Jewish status in a sport where acceptance was decidedly slow in coming.This situation, along with the swiftness of his ascent up the ranks, caused Goldstein to incur some resentment among his peers that was exacerbated by some intemperate comments he made on several occasions to the newspapers in which he predicted that he would soon displace Khan from the game's No. 1 ranking.

   Ultimately it would be Desaulniers who would succeed Sharif both as North American Open champion (in the spring of '82, ending a Khan run of six straight Open titles and 12 in 13 years!) and in the season-end No. 1 ranking that year, a position Khan had held for 15 seasons in a row. In fact, the North American Open, recognized as the game's most coveted championship, would prove a bit of a bugaboo for Goldstein during his snake-bit seven-year pursuit of this crown. As noted, an injured knee kept him out of the '77 event and he lost in five games to Gul Khan in '76, Anderson in '78 and '79, Sharif Khan in '80 and Aziz Khan in '81! He led Sharif two games to love and 9-5 in the fifth in '80, led Aziz two games to one in the semis in '81 and, after trailing Anderson 2-0 in '79 in New York, Goldstein actually led 13-8 in the fifth of that semi, just two points from what would have been his only final-round appearance in this event, before a go-for-broke succession of risky but perfectly struck Anderson double-boasts brought the latter to an 18-16 fifth-game tiebreaker victory.

   Goldstein's '82 North American Open match with Khan, a close four-game battle, was the last of Stu's career, as he had already announced before the tournament that he would retire afterwards, whatever the outcome, to embark upon what has developed into a remarkably successful career in real estate as the CEO of SDG Management for the past 18 years.

   It seems somehow symbolic of his accomplishment-filled but unexpectedly brief and strangely enigmatic career that Goldstein reached that semi-final via successive wins over Ned Edwards and Talbott, who the following season would end up occupying the top two spots on the WPSA rankings, in spite of which Goldstein's tournament is more remembered for his falling short yet again against his career-long tormentor in their final clash than for the two excellent wins over much-younger and highly talented opponents that preceded it.

   Let the record show that Goldstein's actual last match, in the third-place play-off the following day, was in fact a victory over Tom Page; that Goldstein's ledger of career tournament wins includes not only the host of WPSA sanctioned-tournament titles we have already chronicled but also the Met Pro championship in '75, '79 and '81 and the Hyder Cup in '80; that he was undefeated in his seven career matches against the redoubtable Edwards; that he placed third twice each in both the North American and Boston Opens while also playing a prominent role on the U. S. team that placed an all-time high 7th in the World Team Championships in Sweden in '81; and that during the two-year period of '77 and '78 he was Sharif's co-finalist more often than any other of his peers.

   Goldstein crammed a remarkable list of achievements into a relatively compressed time frame while becoming one of the most prominent of the legendary protagonists who put the WPSA tour on the map during its meteoric rise in the world of racquet sports.

Jay Nelson
In a 1991 interview he gave a few years before his death, the late and extraordinarily great New York Yankee slugger Mickey Mantle dolefully recalled looking around the clubhouse early in the 1967 season, realizing that second baseman Bobby Richardson, shortstop Tony Kubek, third baseman Cletis Boyer, catcher Elston Howard, fellow outfielders Roger Maris and Tom Tresh, valuable reserves John Blanchard and Phil Linz and pitching ace Whitey Ford — the entire core of the great dynasty he had led to a record five consecutive pennants from 1960-64-were all no longer there, and wondering out loud "Where IS everybody?
I'm the only one left!"

When Jay Nelson, Harvard class of 1962, Andover class of '58 and by many years the last still-active singles squash player from the group that filled the USSRA top-10 rankings during the decade from the mid-1960's through the mid-1970's, was told the Mantle story and asked if he had ever experienced a similar feeling as contemporaries John Reese, Victor Niederhoffer, Tom Poor, Len Bernheimer, Bob Hetherington, Scott Ryan, Glenn Greenberg, Sam and Ralph Howe and Frank Satterthwaite all either voluntarily or involuntarily (i.e.injuries) drifted into either retirement or age-group doubles, he resisted whatever temptation there might have been to give a poetically fitting answer, instead responding,

"Not really. There was still plenty of competition at the time, especially in softball."

In an important respect the dichotomy between Mantle's and Nelson's respective reactions to their analagous experiences makes absolute sense. For while the career of Mantle was nearly over by the time he had reached his late 30's in '67, by contrast arguably the most noteworthy aspect of Nelson's career---the record he has amassed in USSRA age-group singles titles, the 20th of which he registered this past spring, a total second only to Henri Salaun's 26---didn't even begin until September '84, by which time he was 42 years old.

More significantly, he was pretty much embarking on a new and "second" squash career during that early-1980's period, having taken a four-year hiatus from the game from 1978 to 1982 which re-charged the physical and emotional batteries to a degree that has carried him through the past nearly two decades of USSRA age-group titles in both hardball (in which he won the 45's in 1989 and 1990 and the 50's in 1992 and 1995 before stopping after the '96 event) and softball, in which he won the 40's in '84 and '85, the 45's in '87 and '88 and, starting in '92, the last 12 age-group Nationals, having run the five-year board in both the 50's and 55's and taken the first two steps towards doing the same in the 60's in '02 and '03. All this in spite of back and knee injuries, especially in recent years, and surgery in '97 for prostate cancer which, happily, has remained in remission ever since.

Not that Nelson hadn't had a fine career even before becoming eligible for age-group competition. Indeed, the success he has experienced in this latter category was a natural by-product of the arc of the "Open" career that preceded it. Although he played for Jack Barnaby's intercollegiate championship teams at Harvard, he was nowhere near the top of the formidable Crimson line-up, loitering at the Nos. 5 and 6 positions while Niederhoffer led the way at No. 1.

But once ensconced in New York's competitive and star-studded league and tournament environment in '69, having served a two-year stint in Berlin as a member of the armed forces, earned an MBA at Harvard Business School and spent several years as a computer programmer during the seven-year interim since his college graduation, Nelson decided to really dedicate himself to the game.

This he successfully did by complementing the solid strokes and outstanding three-wall that he had learned from Coach Barnaby with a commitment to conditioning that marked him as perhaps the best "grinder" in the amateur game at the time while also setting the stage for the softball success that would follow.

The latter included membership along with Poor, Satterthwaite and Dinny Adams on the first U. S. team ever to compete in the world team championships, in South Africa in '73, an experience that Nelson credits with playing a major role in the breakthrough '74 season that ensued. During this possibly career-best campaign he defeated Niederhoffer and Mo Khan at the William White Invitational, reached the second of his four Nationals semi-finals (three of which, against Gordy Anderson in '74, Peter Briggs in '75 and Mario Sanchez in '78, he took to a fifth game) and received the Eddie Standing Award "For Sportsmanship Combined With A High Level Of Play" from the MSRA, which also subsequently bestowed on him its other major award, the Edwin Bigelow Trophy "For Excellence In Competition," in both '77 and '92. This 19-year spread between the first and last of the MSRA's most prestigious awards exemplified the remarkable longevity that had arguably become the most noteworthy aspect of Nelson's career even before he began his ongoing assault on the age group tournaments.

He won his third and last Metropolitan Open title in '89 at age 47 during a springtime stretch in which his quadruple-exploits in also winning the Met A, 35 and 45 tourneys led to his being cited by Sports Illustrated in its famed "Faces In The Crowd" section. Nelson annexed his third and last New York State Open in '93 a few weeks after his 52nd birthday (and a full 16 years after his second such title in '77) and tied his career-highest USSRA Men's ranking, No. 2, in '77 and '78, by which time he was well past age 35.

As recently as last year, several months into his seventh decade and five years after his retirement from the Wall Street investment firm Brown Brothers Harriman, where he spent 29 years as a securities analyst, Nelson took on one of Ivy League champion Princeton's starting nine in a practice match and out-lasted a talented opponent 40 years his junior! Nelson also combined with Harvard Club teammates Daniel Ezra and George Polsky to win the 2002 MSRA A League title, saving several match points against him to eke out a fifth-set tiebreaker victory in the finals against Lincoln. He is by a large margin the last remaining protagonist from an otherwise by-gone period of USSRA history who unflappably made the transition from the cold courts and gentlemanly atmosphere of that earlier era to the far more athletically demanding pitch of today's environment, an old-school product who is nevertheless thriving in the present climate and who, based upon his recent results and continuing enthusiasm for the game, may well be working his ageless magic for many years to come.

Pete Bostwick
In 1986, shortly after succeeding the legendary Bob Lehman, who for more than four decades had been single-handedly responsible for making the MSRA Annual Yearbook essentially the squash Bible, I began a series looking back at MSRA legends of the past, re-examining and paying tribute to their outstanding careers and updating the readership on "Where They Are Now."

It was pretty much a requirement that to be profiled one's career had to be essentially over, and of the three subjects chosen for the 1986-87 Yearbook(Glenn Greenberg, John Reese and Pete Bostwick), the latter seemed the least likely to have any significant achievements left in him --not only was he a full decade older than the other two, he had also been plagued in the mid-80's by mounting hip problems which understandably were making the game increasingly painful for him and which, in fact, resulted in hip replacements(on both legs!) by early 1987. He seemed doomed to become another example of a long litany of zealous athletes governed too much by their heart and not enough by their head who wound up crippled by the very games they played and loved for so long(for TOO long, in fact).

But while Greenberg and Reese(both of whom were enormous fixtures in squash on both the regional and national fronts for more than a decade)cooperatively adapted to squash retirement, Bostwick spent several necessary recuperative seasons on the sidelines and then returned in time to play in the '90 55-and-over Nationals in Rochester, where he reached the final and thus began a streak during which he played in 11 consecutive Nationals, reaching the finals of both the 55's and the 65's, while also winning the National '55's and 60's singles crown and 11 out of 12 National 55's Doubles titles in the sport of court tennis, in which exacting discipline he had won both the National Open and amateur championships several decades earlier.

Only a torn meniscus in his left knee this past winter, which required arthroscopic surgery in January, sidelined him during the 2000-2001 season and, with the injury fully rehabilitated as of this late-summer writing, the 67-year-old Bostwick fully plans to return to the competitive arena this autumn.

As should be evident from the foregoing, Pete is one of the most multi-talented racquet and all-around athletes of his (highly extended) era, having won several dozen national titles in court tennis, tennis, hard racquets and squash over a period of five decades of nearly constant competitive play.

His days of athletic stardom date all the way back to '53, when as a prep-schooler at St. Pauls he won the New England Interschols in tennis, continued through the New England Intercollegiate Golf title he won as a senior at Middlebury in '58 (while captain of the tennis team) and include a full quarter-century('58-'83)as a key member of the renowned St. Nicks hockey club. Mike Karin, an all-American hockey player and hockey teammate at Middlebury called Bostwick "the greatest amateur athlete I've ever known."

By playing in the U.S. Amateur championships(the forbear of the U. S. Open)at Forest Hills in '52 and later qualifying for and competing in the '59 golf U. S. Open at Winged Foot, he became one of only three men(Ellsworth Vines and Frank Conner being the others)to play in the Open championships in both of these sports; in fact Bostwick's two-round total of 153 at Winged Foot, while missing the cut by three strokes, was actually one shot better than the score posted by Jack Nicklaus, who would win the U.S. Amateur title a few weeks later and thereby launch what would become a truly legendary career in that sport.

Pete's two National squash titles were the '75 National 40's(keyed by a rousing five-game semis over the shotmaking maestro Henri Salaun, who led 2-0 before bowing to an inspired Bostwick rally)and the '80 National 45's, in which he defeated defending champion Les Harding en route to the cup. He also won the hard racquets Open Championship in '69 and '70 and annexed both the U. S. Open and amateur titles in court tennis, in which sport he held the world title from '69-'72 before being dethroned by his older brother Jimmy.

By accomplishing this trifecta, Bostwick became one of only three men(accompanied by Ralph Howe and Dick Squires)to win National championships in three different racquet sports -- and both Howe and Squires depended on a doubles title in at least one of their three sports to qualify for this elite list.

In fact, Bostwick's exposure to and success in such a plethora of sports, which poses a hindrance for many competitors(due to the difficulty of navigating the often minor but always present tactical and stroking differences between these games) actually became an advantage for Pete, who often "cross-pollinates" i. e. uses a tactic from one racquet game while playing another, thereby confusing an opponent unaccustomed to the unfamiliar ploy confronting him.

As one example, Bostwick was one of the first hardball squash players to employ the "working boast," a kind of modified crosscourt very integral to hard racquets but heretofore unknown in squash, and for years he was quite successful in throwing his opponents off-balance with this maneuver, sometimes to a degree that turned the entire flow of a match in his favor. That shot was in the 80's used very frequently by such elite squash players as Gary Waite and Mark Talbott, but its use in the late 60's and early 70's was unheard of before Bostwick introduced it into his game and eventually into THE game. The heavier-than-normal slice Pete puts on his finesse squash shots(especially his roll- and reverse-corners)also has its roots in another racquet sport, namely court tennis.

This rare ability to convert a potential hindrance into an advantage is not just confined to his drawing on a diverse racquet background while molding a squash arsenal; when Bostwick's hip problems cut sharply into his mobility, he reacted both by sharpening up an already potent short game and by becoming better than he had ever previously been at anticipating what shot an opponent was about to hit.

Because of the extent and diversity of his athletic commitments, Bostwick did not take up competitive squash in earnest until '71, when at the age of 36 he reached the quarters of the Nationals and won the prestigious Apawamis Invitational, defeating the redoubtable duo of Palmer Page and Tom Poor in the final two rounds and thereby earning the No. 8 season-end ranking. In fact, Bostwick's most salient squash legacy may be that of being the oldest player to effectively compete at the highest echelon of the sport's amateur ranks; two years after those '71 exploits, he reached the quarter-finals of the Men's Nationals while earning another top-ten ranking, and the following season he almost repeated his Apawamis win, rallying from down 1-2 to defeat the formidable Jay Nelson and pushing Mexican star Juan deVillafranca to the limit in the ensuing final before bowing 15-13 in the fifth.

As late as '77, at the age of 42, he recorded a top-15 national men's ranking while for nearly two decades playing a major role on the highly successful Racquet and Tennis A Team, for which he won a crucial match in the '81 play-off finals in five games against a much younger and stronger opponent to help clinch another league title. After the 1974-75 season, during which he won his first age-group National squash championship, the MSRA awarded him the coveted Eddie Standing Trophy "For Sportsmanship Combined With Excellence In Play."

Bostwick's main source of athletic inspiration, as so often happens in the case of outstanding performers, were the achievements and example of his father, Pete Sr., who was a world-class polo player and a huge contributor to six U. S. Open Polo Championships. Many aficionados of that demanding sport feel that the Greentree team the senior Bostwick played on, especially during the glory years of '35 and '36 when most members were at their peak, may have been the greatest contingent of all time, featuring as it did such luminaries as Tommy Hitchcock(widely regarded as the world's greatest player of his era), Jack Whitney, John Hays and Gerald Balding along with Mr. Bostwick.

The latter's proficiency in and devotion to his chosen sport remained literally to the last moment of his life; in January of '82, while riding out for the final period of a close polo match, the 72-year-old Bostwick suffered a massive heart attack and died almost immediately, slumping forward onto the neck of but(apocryphal-sounding but actually true)never falling off his beloved mount, a testimony to the bond the two had formed over their many years of collaboration and (as family members noted once they had recovered from their shock)a poetically appropriate ending to a wondrous and very fulfilling life.

There are athletic genes on Pete's mother's side as well, particularly in the accomplishments of his two great-aunts, the Curtis sisters, Margaret and Harriet, who between them won a total of four national amateur golf championships(playing eachother in fact in the finals one year), with Margaret adding a national amateur tennis title as well. The annual United States-vs.-England amateur women's team golf competition, the female counterpart to the Walker Cup, was named the Curtis Cup as a tribute to the mark they made upon the sport.

As befits a legacy of this magnitude, and however low-key their acknowledgement of this phenomenon, the Bostwicks are a family that think dynastically, at least as far as sports(racquet sports in particular)are concerned, and it is therefore not surprising that a number of Pete's children have made their own mark, sometimes with the partnership of their famous father. His only son(another Pete), also played for the R & T A Team, also played hockey for St. Nick's(even also had hip problems), while serving as MSRA President in the late 80's, winning the Big Apple Open in '86 and collaborating in the winning of the national father-son court tennis doubles championship in 1989.

Oldest daughter Catherine(better known as Cackie), a basketball, field hockey and tennis legend at Pete's alma mater St. Pauls, was thought at one time to be the most talented racquet athlete in the entire family, reaching in fact the final of the Women's Squash Intercollegiates in '77(as a freshman, and in her first year of squash!) before a severe knee injury the following year abruptly truncated what had to that point been a meteoric rise in several racquet sports.

Though the recovery process from such a searing mishap was slow and frustrating, she has recovered enough to co-earn the father-daughter No. 7 national senior tennis ranking, with the pair winning a number of Mixed Doubles tournaments in the Locust Valley part of northern Long Island, where Pete lives and where he worked as a principal of a successful brokerage firm until his retirement six years ago.

Another daughter, Janet, is the assistant squash pro at the same Apawamis Club in Rye, NY where Pete enjoyed some of his greatest squash achievements three decades ago, while the fourth child, Lilly, is a solid squash and tennis player at Piping Rock, the Long Island club to which the family has belonged for several decades. There are as well a total of eleven grandchildren, many of whom will doubtless be eager to carry the family banner in the years to come.

Notwithstanding the sheer statistical measurements of the tally of titles, records and rankings comprising the swollen resume of this remarkable sportsman, probably Pete's most striking and enduring characteristic is the continuing eagerness and enthusiasm he exudes for the games he is constantly playing.

Nearly a half-century after his first meaningful racquets victories, he seems as excited as ever about whichever event is next on his brimming schedule and the competitive challenge that he knows it will provide. In marked contrast to those of even reasonably comparable vintage and achievement, who often convey the impression either of knowing it all or being weary of it all, or both, Pete remains highly interested in and willing to re-examine his views on shots and stratagems. One gets the strong impression that he is still keen to experiment with and refine his game; that his quest for perfection in these tantalizingly(and occasionally maddeningly) imperfect racquet sports continues as passionately as ever; and, in the ultimate triumph of the human soul, that his incandescent youthfulness of spirit, undimmed by either his long list of successes, his aching joints or his inexorably advancing years, has kept and will continue to keep this extraordinary athlete, in a very real sense, forever young.

Glenn Greenberg
One of metropolitan New York's most formidable regional fixtures, and arguably the region's most dominant amateur player during his prime years in the late 1970's, big Glenn parlayed his imposing physical presence and relentless competitive determination into two New York State titles ('78 and '79), two Met A championships (also '78 and '79), a total of nine regional MSRA finals and a pair of placements in the top four of the USSRA national rankings.

Eldest scion of the legendary Hall Of Fame home run hitter Hank Greenberg and the older brother of former major league baseball deputy commissioner Stephen, Glenn was a first-team all-Ivy defensive tackle on Yale's great Brian Dowling-Calvin Hill teams of the late 1960's (where he and equally large sidekick Bob Greenlee formed the Valley Of The Jolly Green Giants) and was selected in the 1968 draft by the Cleveland Browns.

Greenberg had spent a number of his grade-school years in Cleveland while Hank had been general manager of the Indians, but he chose not to pursue a career in pro football, moving back instead to his native New York that fall and taking up squash during the next several years while earning an MBA at Columbia Business School. After winning the Met B (and receiving the Bob Lehman end-of-season "Most Improved Player Award") in '72, Greenberg garnered the first of his six consecutive top-10 national rankings in '75, when his comeback five-game semi-final win over Penn all-American Joe Swain and subsequent three-game final over Len Bernheimer gained him the John Jacobs trophy and gave the squash world an early sign of the powerful forehand drives and intense aura (highly reminiscent of the no-nonsense attitude which his father had always exuded on the baseball diamond) that would become his trademarks.

In addition to his ability to generate pace, Greenberg also possessed surprising mobility for a man his size, particularly after de-bulking and dropping 30 pounds from his gridiron days, though one aspect of the Greenberg persona that did survive the remarkable transition between these highly differing sports was a football-derived willingness, even eagerness, to mix it up around the T. Though he was deservedly known as a clean player, his on-court style was rugged and aggressive enough to make opponents think twice about being overly assertive while jockeying for position; especially when a match heated up, as it often did during that hectic period in squash's expansion; no one engaged in turf wars with Glenn Greenberg.

This latter quality belied a tactical shrewdness that was sometimes overlooked and/or under-rated by squash aficionados; he was especially good about mixing up his rail and three-walls, and his anticipation and ability to divine his opponent's intentions carried him through many of his close victories, as did the mental toughness he displayed in those crucial points that so often determine the outcome of a long and wearing battle. These traits emerged week-in and week-out in a slew of solid wins that consistently brought Greenberg deep into the draws of the major amateur invitationals, as well as in a number of airtight wins over well-ranked WPSA professionals, among which were his five-game '79 Met A final over Stew Grodman, his fifth-game tiebreaker win in the
Boston Open over Charlie Khan and especially his back-from-the-dead rally from 9-14 to 17-14 in the fifth game of his '79 Metropolitan Open quarter-final with the heavily-favored WPSA No. 9 Larry Hilbert.

In addition to winning the '75 Jacobs and the '76 Trenton Invitational (where he rallied from 0-2 to defeat John Bottger Sunday morning and then dominated long-time rival Gil Mateer in the final that afternoon), Greenberg also received the '79 Edwin Bigelow Trophy "For Excellence In Play" and won multiple club championships at both the University Club and the Yale Club, whose fourth and last such title occurred in the spring of '87, shortly after his 40th birthday and soon after his season-long performance at No. 1 had brought the Yalies to the Met A league crown. Appropriately enough, in his last competitive match in the early spring of '91, by which time he was 44 and struggling with a bad disc problem in his back, Greenberg contributed a crucial play-off win
over a much-younger opponent to yet another Yale Club surge to the league championship.

By that time, Greenberg, now 56, had experienced great success in business as managing general partner of a highly respected mid-town investment advisory firm, Chieftain Capital Management, which he co-founded 20 years ago. His many years of intensely competitive athletics have taken their toll in the form of major injuries to his knees, back and both shoulders, but the next Greenberg generation is already preparing to make its mark. This seems especially true of Duncan Greenberg, the youngest of Glenn's three sons, who is captain of his high-school soccer team and a star on the baseball team, where as an outfielder he is playing the same position that his famous grandfather played for the Detroit Tigers when on the final day of the 1945 season he hit the ninth-inning grand-slam home run that erased a 4-3 deficit and propelled his team to the American League pennant and ultimately to the World Series victory that followed over the Chicago Cubs.

Ted Gross
The only West Coast product to ever attain a top-25 WPSA ranking, let alone top-15, Ted Gross followed his future wife Deborah (who had been admitted to Columbia to go for a Masters in Art) to New York in the summer of 1978 and proceeded to single-handedly change the stereotypically condescending perceptions that the eastern squash establishment had previously had of west coast squash with his rock-solid, error-free game and admirable competitive attitude.

At various times during his six-year WPSA career, he defeated such top-10 WPSA luminaries as Ned Edwards, John Nimick, Clive Caldwell, Jon Foster and Tom Page while also recording a series of praiseworthy secondary wins (he was remarkably upset-proof, rarely losing a match to an opponent ranked below him), reaching a number of WPSA quarter-finals as well as the semis at a tour stop in Toledo in 1983, and twice earning a spot on teams that represented the United States in international team competition.

The most noteworthy of these was the historic 1981 squad that placed seventh in the World Team Championships in Sweden and that consisted of himself, Bill Andruss, Stu Goldstein and Edwards. This (by a wide margin) highest-ever U. S. finish was keyed by an upset victory over a heavily favored Canadian contingent (with Edwards defeating Doug Whittaker and Goldstein doing the same to Dale Styner) that for the first time ever elevated America's standing in the world squash community.

Gross had saved several match-points against him when he played current U. S. 45-and-over champion Foster for the final spot on that team on the last day of the team trials.

Buoyed by that team experience, as well as by his participation on a U. S. team that competed in Pakistan in 1980, Gross promptly embarked upon returning on perhaps his career-best extended stretch when the 1981-82 WPSA tour picked up that autumn, successfully forging his way through the tough qualifying draws in five of the next six tournaments and knocking off both Nimick and Foster on the same day at the prestigious Boodles British Gin Open. This latter tournament, a highlight of the WPSA tour at the time, was held in New York at the Uptown Racquet Club, where Gross was a teaching pro from 1979-83, when he moved 50 blocks southwest to begin a two-year stint as the head professional at Fifth Avenue.

He maintained this level of play for most of the remainder of that season and the following one, twice (against Frank Satterthwaite in '82 in Toronto and against Dave Johnson in '83 in Minnesota) eking out close fifth games after being down two games to one and exiting each season with a ranking just inside the top 15.

A San Francisco native who permanently returned there with his wife and two children in the fall of '94 at the end of his 16-year sojourn in New York, Gross had an off-court self-presentation that typified the image of the easy-going and laid-back Californian, but his on-court persona was something quite different, as was his game. Both had gritty determination and relentless execution as their foundation, and there was a distinctly blue-collar aspect to his playing style. He often seemed to be playing with a chip on his shoulder, perhaps as an understandable reaction to the skepticism that greeted his arrival on the east about the competitive prospects in WPSA play of a product of the Berkeley squash program and the Nor Cal tournament circuit. Though Gross lacked
the racquet firepower and shot-making precision of many of his extraordinarily gifted WPSA peers, he evinced a willingness to grind out long and wearing points that more than nullified whatever natural superiority an opponent might enjoy. And his up-and-down-the-walls production and ability to get good depth on his ground strokes were traits that fully conformed to the Jack Barnaby fundamentals of classic squash.

Nowhere were these qualities more in evidence than at the virtual outset of his "rookie" New York season when in just his second tournament Gross shocked everyone by winning the Slazenger Open in Philadelphia, winning both his semi-final with John Bottger and his final with Peter Talbert in five games. Bottger, who earned the No. 2 USSRA ranking that season, came from the famed Merion Cricket Club, while Talbert was tennis and squash captain at Williams and the son of tennis Hall of Famer Billy Talbert-when Gross out-lasted both of them just hours apart on a late-September Sunday afternoon he thereby jumped into the consciousness of the squash establishment in a way that his several prior seasons' worth of multiple California tournament titles hadn't even been able to approach.

His subsequent tournament wins the following season, first in the Boodles A-1 draw (featuring victories over Rick Woolworth, Bill Kaplan and Frank Brosens, with the first and last of these going five games) and later at the Park Avenue Squash Club Invitational, in which he defeated Foster and Edwards, both in five, before routing Juan deVillafranca in the final, only added to his reputation and set the stage for the productive run on the WPSA circuit that would follow.

Injury-free throughout his career, a considerable achievement in itself given his long-points playing style and full lesson schedule, Gross retired from active competition and his position at Fifth Avenue during the 1984-85 season, right around the time of his 30th birthday, to pursue a career in real estate. He remains to this day the only native Californian to put his game up against those of the best products of squash's major historical centers and make a significant impact on professional squash during perhaps its most celebrated era of expansion.

These first appeared on

Back To Dinerman Archive