A History Of The U. S. National Men’s Doubles Squash Championship In Baltimore     By Rob Dinerman

February 10, 2010
- This weekend will mark the 75th edition of the U. S. National Men’s Doubles Squash Championship, which debuted in 1933 and has been held every year since except for a three-year World War II-caused hiatus from 1943-45. The city of Baltimore has previously hosted this tournament 11 times (in 1940, ’42, ’46, ’48, ’53, ’58, ’65, ’73, ’81, ’87 and ’96) and those championships have featured some of the game’s all-time leading stars adding to their legend and important chapters in several enduring rivalries, as well as a series of out-of-the-blue one-hit wonders, noteworthy upsets, instances of sibling rivalry as well as partnership, and some of the most riveting final-round finishes in the history of doubles squash.


   A real question has emerged in researching this chronicle as to whether the 1940 National Doubles event was actually held in Baltimore, and 70 years after the fact, no one could be found who had played in or attended that tournament and hence would be in a position to resolve this unanticipated and highly intriguing though decidedly unwelcome issue. All the USSRA Yearbooks from the early 1950’s onward list Baltimore as having been the host site in 1940, but the 1940-41 Yearbooks (chronicling the 1939-40 season) of both the national and New York associations clearly state that the tournament that year was held at the Philadelphia Country Club. Furthermore, the highly unusual trajectory of the final, in which five-time champions (from 1933-37) Roy Coffin and Neil Sullivan faced off against two-time defending champs Hunter Lott Jr. and William Slack, would argue for the latter locale as well ---- on the third point of the second game, after Coffin/Sullivan had taken the opener 15-9, Slack was injured so badly by his partner’s racquet follow-through that he was unable to continue.

   Slack and Lott therefore graciously offered a default win to their opponents, who however just as graciously refused, leading to a resumption and conclusion of the match (which Lott and Slack wound up winning in four games) three weeks later. Since all four players were Philly Country members, it seems that such an arrangement would have been far more likely if that club had been hosting the entire event, and in any case, as noted, both the USSRA and MSRA (i.e., Met-NY) Yearbooks explicitly specify Philly Country as the venue for that entire tournament.

   No draw sheets could be located either in the U. S. SQUASH office in New York, the Hall Of Fame in New Haven, the Maryland State Squash Association (MSSRA) archives in Baltimore or the libraries of various racquet-sports-oriented clubs, to detail the course of the National Doubles in 1942 (when the Lott/Slack duo earned this title for the fifth-straight and final time), 1946 or 1948 (when Charles Brinton won both years, first with Donald Strachan and then with Stanley Pearson Jr.), but full documentation was available from the early 1950’s onward.


   The 1953 championship was especially noteworthy for the opportunity it represented for the Philadelphia player group to restore order after the dramatic fashion in which the American doubles landscape had been at least temporarily transformed by what had happened one year earlier in Greenwich, where to everyone’s surprise and for the first time in the history of the tournament (then in its 17th holding), not a single Philadelphian made it into the winner’s circle. Indeed, only two non-Philadelphians had made it that far as PARTNERS of denizens of the City Of Brotherly Love to that point, namely the New Yorkers Strachan in ’46 with Brinton and Calvin MacCracken in ’51 as Diehl Mateer’s partner. This means that 30 of the 32 listed champions through 1951 had been Philadelphians, though, in a sign of the dominance and longevity that this group of champions attained, those 30 spots had been manned by a total of only eight different people, namely Lott (who by then had won seven of his eight career titles), Slack, Sullivan and Coffin (each five-time winners), Brinton and Pearson (twice each), David McMullin and Mateer, who in ’51 had won the third of his eventual and all-time-high total of 11 National Doubles crowns.

   Given this extremely homogeneous backdrop, the 1952 edition, in which no Philadelphian even made it to the finals, constituted a major deviation from all that preceded it, with eventual champs Germain Glidden III and Dick Remsen summarily ousting Mateer and Lott in the semis to advance to (and through) the final against fellow New York metropolitan-area players Carl Badger and Jim Ethridge of the host Field Club of Greenwich. The 1953 National Doubles in Baltimore, which was held at the University Club near the Park Plaza Hotel, was therefore viewed as a chance to see whether what had happened one year earlier was merely an aberrational blip on the screen or the first signs of a more lasting change in the power structure of top-level amateur doubles in this country.

  On the first weekend of March (the tournament wouldn’t be pushed back to its current placement near the end of the month until the following decade), it emphatically proved to be the former, as even the MSRA Yearbook ruefully acknowledged when it admitted that “after one heady year” (referring of course to 1952), Philadelphia, “long the squash doubles stronghold of the country, bounced back with both final-round teams in 1953, dousing the last New York hopes in the semi-finals.” Those semifinal “dousings” were brusquely administered, in each case in the minimum number of games, by Mateer and Lott over Ethridge/Badger and by Howard Davis and James Whitmoyer at the expense of defending-champs Remsen and Glidden. Mateer and Lott would then dominate the last two games (15-9 and 6) of the ensuing four-game final in what proved to be Lott’s career swan song, as he would announce his retirement from national competition to the Baltimore newspapers later that afternoon.

  Lott, whose eight U. S. National Doubles titles were a record for a right-waller until Morris Clothier recorded his ninth in 2005 (just months before Lott died a few weeks short of his 91st birthday), also won the U. S. National singles crown in 1949 before winning the National Doubles with Mateer a few weeks later, a parlay that made him literally a first-ballot U. S. Hall Of Famer in 2000 when he became one of the first class of inductees (Mateer and Brinton were also members of that august group) into that celebratory society. He and Mateer, National Doubles co-champions in ’49, ’50 and ’53, opposed each other a decade later in a memorable early-1960’s Merion Cricket Club club-championship final in which Lott, by then in his late 40’s (in what became his last hurrah, given the ruptured Achilles tendon a few weeks later that ended his squash-playing career), teamed with Whitmoyer in a five-game win over Mateer and John Hentz, who less than a month earlier had garnered the third of the four National Doubles titles they won during the five-year period from 1958-1962!


  The first of those titles occurred, as referenced, at Baltimore’s University Club, where Mateer and Hentz were unseeded and from which Badger and Ethridge, the top seeds and two-time defending champions after their exploits in New York in ’56 and Minneapolis in ’57, were ousted in the quarterfinal round by Ray Widelski and ’52 National Singles champ Harry Conlon. Mateer and Hentz encountered plenty of resistance themselves in a four-game round-of-16 match with the Hahn brothers, Joe and Ed (winners of the tournament three years earlier), and were pushed all the way to simultaneous-match-point in a tortuous semi against Whitmoyer and Davis, who rallied from two-love down and then, hair-raisingly, from a 14-6 fifth-game deficit by saving eight straight match-balls against them and forcing a best-of-five tiebreaker, which seesawed to 2-all, set-three. At this crisis juncture, and on his team’s 10th match-point of the game, Mateer ended a long all-court rally by steaming a backhand rail that barely eluded his left-wall opponent Whitmoyer’s wild but futile diving attempt to get his racquet on the ball.

    The final later that same day against Paul Steele and Bill Danforth (straight-set winners in both their quarterfinal with Baltimore torch-bearers William Lamble and George Doetsch and their semi against Widelski and Conlon) also went the five-game limit, with the three first-time National Doubles finalists all betraying understandable nervousness and only Mateer (who already had won this event five times with three different partners, his trio with Lott in ’49, ’50 and ’53 being augmented by title runs with MacCracken in ’51 and Richard Squires in ’54) playing up to form. Four evenly-divided games after the match had started, no one knew what to expect entering the fifth, but at that stage Hentz settled down and he and Mateer ran off and hid with a 15-3 tally, though it should be noted that a half-decade after this disappointing denouement (i.e., in Wilmington in 1963), Danforth would team up with Sam Howe to annex this championship for the first of the three times that this pairing would emerge triumphant during the five-year period from 1963-67.



   Indeed, Howe and Danforth were top seeds and two-time defending champions the next time that the National Doubles came to Baltimore on a sultry and unseasonably warm third weekend in March 1965 in which both the weather conditions and the scheduling of the matches played a role in the ultimate outcome. Mateer and first-time Nationals partner Ralph Howe (Sam’s younger brother), winners of the Baltimore Invitation Doubles (forerunner of the BIDS) just a few weeks earlier on the same University Club court, advanced to the final without dropping a game, including a fairly concise semifinal Sunday morning against a pair of opponents, Kit Spahr and Claude Beer, who were pardonably pooped from their lengthy 3-2 quarterfinal the previous afternoon against Victor Elmaleh and Maurice Heckscher.

   By contrast, Sam Howe and Danforth, whose semifinal with the Vehslage brothers, Steve (the newly-crowned National Singles champion) and Ramsay, had been played after the bottom-half semi (a breach of the normal protocol of allowing the No. 1 seeds to play first that drew some protest from the normally affable Sam Howe, whose prescience would be borne out later that day), had barely survived a murderous marathon in which Howe/Danforth, after failing to reach double figures in either of the first two games, surged back to force a fifth game that inched evenly along all the way to 14-all, no-set, before ending on a Danforth three-wall that nicked on the left wall and rolled insolently out at Steve Vehslage’s feet.

  When the ensuing final began a mere (and insufficient) 65 minutes after that simultaneous-match-point semi had ended, Danforth and Sam Howe found themselves facing an even more daunting task when they dropped both of the first two games in tiebreakers, the first when at 17-all Howe’s attempted overhead volley drop-shot caught the top of the tin, and the second when their opponents swept through a best-of-five overtime session to win 16-13. The defending champs pridefully forged their way into a fifth game, their 10th of the day, and one more than they could handle, with cumulative fatigue playing a visible and defining role as the anticlimactic game moved along to its clear-cut 15-6 conclusion.

   These two top-tier tandems would meet again in both the ’66 and ’67 finals, with Mateer and Ralph Howe successfully defending their title in a straight-set final in Philadelphia but relinquishing it the following year in Buffalo, when at 12-all in the first game Mateer ruptured his left Achilles tendon while trying to accelerate in pursuit of a drop shot. By 1969, the brothers Howe (who had opposed each other in the North American Open singles final, which Ralph won 15-13 in the fifth) had become partners, and they won the National Doubles throughout the three-year period from 1969-71. Fittingly, they would both be inducted into the U. S. Squash Hall Of Fame simultaneously, during the weekend of the 2002 National Doubles in New York.

  The whole tournament experience had a profound impact on the younger Howe, who was participating in his first-ever National Doubles after graduating from Yale less than two years earlier, and who would accrue benefits from playing with the wiser and vastly more experienced Mateer that would play a crucial role in the six National Doubles crowns (the two with Mateer and three with his brother Sam, plus the ’76 event as Peter Briggs’s partner) that Ralph Howe would collect during his career. Even four decades removed from that 1965 tournament, he vividly remembered how well organized and focused Mateer had been, how meticulously he scouted upcoming opponents, how he would arrange formal pre-match meetings to discuss strategy for the match ahead, how he would always hold his racquet on the same side for his forehand. Prior to the Baltimore Invitational final, Mateer and Howe had sat in the gallery watching Ian McAvity and Dave Pemberton-Smith win their semi, and whenever McAvity would rocket one of his scorching forehands down the middle and nick it out at the back wall, Mateer would lean over to his much younger partner and whisper into his ear that, “Those balls are YOURS when he hits them against us!”


  Another in-tournament adjustment by a highly decorated veteran would ultimately have a decisive impact on the National Doubles the next time it came to Baltimore eight years later (i.e. in 1973), when it would be co-hosted by the Baltimore Country Club and the Maryland Club. Jim Zug came into that event as the reigning champion after winning the ’72 tourney in Minneapolis with Larry Terrell, who, however, had moved out west shortly thereafter and had temporarily stopped playing. As late as the mid-February National Singles, Zug had still not chosen a partner for the by then fast-approaching ’73 tournament, but while playing in the Five-Man Team event during that weekend at Princeton University, where Zug himself had spent his college years a decade earlier, he and Victor Niederhoffer (who was in the process of earning the second of his four-straight National Singles titles from 1972-75) decided to partner up for Baltimore.

  Niederhoffer was a professor at Berkeley during that 1972-73 year and his doubles game was very rusty, as became palpably clear during his shaky Saturday-afternoon quarterfinal performance, a too-close-for-comfort four-gamer against New Yorkers Mel Sokolow and Frank Satterthwaite during which Niederhoffer committed a number of unforced errors and positioned himself too deep in the court to be effective. Zug was understandably concerned by his partner’s Saturday struggles, but when he showed up at the club early Sunday morning and arrived in the doubles-court gallery, he immediately saw Niederhoffer perspiring profusely in his grey sweatpants, strenuously practicing both his stroking and his court movements, a clear sign of the latter’s realization that his play needed to substantially improve, as well as his determination to make that happen.

   Niederhoffer moved well up in the court and demonstrated the accuracy, placement, mobility and shot-making skills that had been absent the day before, and he and Zug moved confidently to straight-set victories both in the morning semifinal against young Canadians Gordy Anderson (who 13 years later would partner Todd Binns to the World Doubles crown) and Peter Martin and in the afternoon final, where they prevailed 15-7, 7 and 11 over the top-seeded Pierce brothers, Michael and Peter, whose path to the finals included a quarterfinal win over just-ensconced Maryland State champions Joe Lacy and Sandy Martin and a semifinal advance at the expense of Heckscher and Tom Poor.

   Not too long after that tournament, Zug would decamp for Germany, where he would spend the rest of the decade of the 1970’s. His business-related move gave Niederhoffer the opportunity to show his versatility by moving to the right wall to play with Colin Adair in the ’74 National Doubles at the Merion Cricket Club in suburban Philadelphia, where they would out-last another mixed-national team, namely Poor and his Canadian partner Peter Hall, fresh off winning the Canadian National Doubles one week earlier, in a two-hour final, 16-13 in the fourth. This outcome caused Niederhoffer to become the first player ever to win the National Doubles playing each wall, while also making Adair, a two-time National Singles champion (in ’68 and ’71), the first Canadian to be part of a U. S. National Doubles championship team.

   Although Mike Pierce and Heckscher would both fall short on that Sunday, March 25, at the Baltimore Country Club in 1973, they would team up to win this tournament two years later in Buffalo at the final-round expense of Mateer and his precocious son Gilbert, a University of Pennsylvania sophomore at the time, who would win the National Doubles for three consecutive years from 1978-80, teaming up with Tom Page in ’78 and ’79 and with John Bottger in ’80. Similar final-round redemption would await Hall, a first-round loser (with Craig Benson) in Baltimore in ’73 who however would team up with his Canadian compatriot Victor Harding to become the first all-Canadian team to win this title when they defeated Page and Gil Mateer in St. Louis in ’77, the backdrop for a triumphant return to “Charm City” the next time it hosted the National Doubles, which was in 1981.


  By that time the tournament had greatly expanded, aided by the praiseworthy efforts of Tournament Chairman Bob Hicks and his Committee and the reputation that the city had by that time universally acquired for hospitality and the exceptional Saturday-evening dinner-dances it offered as the main social event of a National Doubles weekend. A record 61 teams entered the three men’s events (Men’s, Veterans for players age 40-and-over, and Seniors for players age 50-and-over), 22 of them in the Men’s division, and not only the Baltimore Country Club and Maryland Club but also the Racquet Club and the two doubles courts at the athletic complex of nearby Towson State University were utilized as well to accommodate the large turnout.

   After disappointing National Doubles final-round losses in both ’79 and ’80, top seeds Larry Heath and John Reese, childhood friends in suburban New York and excellent singles players as well (Heath won the National Juniors in ’64 while Reese had been a U. S. Nationals finalist in both ’71 and ’76), entered the ’81 tourney convinced that this would finally be “their year” after the manner in which they had swept through the amateur tournament schedule during the preceding fall and winter. But as had been the case 16 years earlier in 1965, the differing courses of the two Sunday-morning semis would exert a tangible impact that afternoon in the final --- ’77 champs Hall and Harding, fresh off winning the Canadian Nationals a week prior to Baltimore, had defeated surprise semifinalists Scott Ryan and Jay Umans (who had saved a third-game match-point-against en route to a Saturday-morning win over Diehl Mateer and his son Drew) in a competitive but solid four games, whereas Heath and Reese trailed Poor and the hometown hero Martin two games to one before barely eking out an 18-15 fifth game that left them too drained, both physically and emotionally, to overcome the 17-15 loss of the first game of the same-day final, which Harding and Hall would wind up winning in three.

   The outcome was especially fulfilling for Hall, who by that time was  in his late 30’s and had decided even before the event began that it would be his last appearance in the Open division of the U. S. National Doubles. Conversely, rarely if ever has disappointment and dismay been as graphically presented on the faces of losing finalists as it was in the trophy-presentation photo that day on the countenances of Heath and Reese, who would, it should be noted, finally attain their coveted title a year later, when they out-dueled Diehl and Gil Mateer in a four-game final in Buffalo.

   The dynamics of the ’81 championship in Baltimore were also influenced by both the fact of and reason for the absence from the competition of Gil Mateer, who as mentioned had won the title throughout the prior three years from 1978-80 but who earlier that winter of ’81 had been assessed a six-month suspension by the USSRA for an unfortunate episode that had occurred on-court in mid-January in the final round of a doubles tournament in Cleveland. In fairness it must be said that Mateer would uncomplainingly serve out his suspension and fully redeem whatever temporary damage had been done by being a model of deportment, on and off the court, from that point onwards: one momentary lapse of judgment can not nullify the decades of praiseworthy play, good sportsmanship and solid citizenship that this four-time National Doubles champ has evinced ever since.


   Indeed, he entered the tournament the next time it was held in Baltimore, in ’87, as the reigning champion, having combined with brother Drew to prevail in Detroit in ’86, when he switched to the left wall and thereby joined Niederhoffer as the only players to win this championship playing each wall. Again the tournament was chaired by Bob Hicks, again it drew a record number of entries, but this time the top seeds (the defending champion Mateer siblings) fell not in the final, as had been the case in ’81, but in the round of 16, at the hands of the local duo of Mike Hahn and Doug Rice, who rode an 18-17 match-evening second game to a pair of close-out single-figure games and an unexpected slot in the quarterfinals. There they were stopped by the Cinderella team of Len Bernheimer and Sandy Tierney, two of the four players manning the eight semifinal positions who would have been eligible to have entered the Veterans flight (which was won by Martin and George Maguire) had they chosen to do so.

    Both semis went the full five games, with Tierney/Bernheimer barely out-lasting Umans and Paul Assaiante and Philadelphians Ryan and Rich Sheppard doing the same to Poor and Jamie Barrett in a tension-filled Sunday morning in which five of those 10 games were decided by two points or less. In the final, Bernheimer and Tierney, bidding to become the first-ever all-Boston winners of this championship, stayed alive by eking out an 18-16 fourth game and appeared poised to make that reversal stick when they rallied, largely on the strength of Tierney’s forehand reverse-corner (which had been on fire throughout the weekend), from 6-9 to 11-9 in the fifth. On the ensuing exchange, Bernheimer had a loose ball and an open front-court to work with, but his drop shot barely caught the tin, jump-starting his reprieved opponents to a 6-0 match-ending run. Sheppard and Ryan would successfully defend their title a year later at the Pittsburgh Golf Club in even more down-to-the-wire fashion, 18-17 in the fifth over the Mateer brothers when Drew tinned would-be winning drop shots on each of the last two points to deprive his team of a win that would have been especially meaningful to Gil, who was living in Pittsburgh at the time.


   Only once in the 23 years since that route-going ’87 final has Baltimore provided the venue for the U. S. National Doubles, and many of the themes that had animated previous Baltimore-hosted versions of this prestigious championship --- from the premature exit of top-seeded defending champions, to the avenging of recent previous defeats, to five-game finals hinging in substantial measure on specific-point fifth-game turnarounds and memorably  defining shots, to unexpected faces in the winner’s circle --- made compelling reappearances in the ’96 edition as well. Clothier and Jonathan Foster, national champions in each of the three prior years (i.e. 1993-95) lost a thrilling quarterfinal to Pete DeRose and his power-hitting right-wall Canadian partner Peter Maule when DeRose was able to conjure up a nick-finding backhand cross-court drop on simultaneous-match-point that Clothier was unable to retrieve, following which the DeRose/Maule duo rallied from two games to one down to overtake Geoff Kennedy and Joe Fabiani (winners of the highly-regarded William White Invitational at Merion a few months earlier) in five games.

   Meanwhile, the bottom half also had some completely unexpected twists and turns, chief among them the advance of unseeded Philadelphians Dave Proctor (who had won this tournament in ’89 with Heckscher and in ’90 with Geordie Lemmon) and Jamie Heldring. The latter, who had successfully recruited Proctor only a day or two before play began when Heldring’s scheduled partner Lemmon pulled a hamstring muscle in a Wednesday-evening practice session, vividly remembers looking around at the star-studded competition during the Friday-night welcoming cocktail party and being chastened by “the number of big guns in this room.” He had already experienced the firepower from several of those “guns” first-hand, including the Garrett Frank/Bob White  and Sheppard/Keen Butcher duos, both of whom had defeated Lemmon and Heldring at, respectively, the William White in January and the Philadelphia A final, in the latter case in a 3-0 rout just one week prior to the National Doubles, a pair of results that made the pre-final wins that Heldring and Proctor were able to engineer over each of those teams (in the 2nd and semifinal rounds respectively, with a quarterfinal triumph over Eric Vlcek and Rick Wahlstedt sandwiched in between) all the more remarkable.

  As had been true 38 years earlier back in 1958, the March 17th final featured three first-time National Doubles finalists, all of them battling a severe case of nerves, and one player (Proctor) who, like Diehl Mateer all those years before him, had experienced final-round success on multiple occasions. It is therefore unsurprising that it was Proctor who came up with the match-ending winner, a backhand three-wall (the only time he attempted this shot the entire match) at 14-13 in the fifth that rolled out at Maule’s feet. The eventual runners-up had actually led that game 7-2 and Maule had an open-court opportunity to make it 8-2, but he tinned his forehand drive, thereby opening the door for the Proctor/Heldring pair to tie the game at 9-all, after which the issue seesawed evenly along until it was finally settled on Proctor’s successful salvo. As Mike Pierce (who teamed with Drew Mateer to win the Veterans event that weekend) noted afterwards, Heldring, who had never before won an invitational doubles tournament, thus had the National Doubles represent his first-ever career tournament win, possibly a unique experience in the history of this championship!

   Three other aspects of that ‘96 tournament (the fourth in the last six Baltimore-held National Doubles to end with a five-game final) that stand out are (1) the resilience showed by DeRose and Maule, who one year later would take that final step that had barely eluded them in Baltimore when they soared to victory in Buffalo, where Heldring and Proctor lost in the opening round; (2) the medically amazing feat recorded by Bernheimer, who had undergone emergency open-heart surgery on October 17, 1995, and whose advance with his Boston co-denizen Poor to the 50-and-over crown (over the redoubtable Heckscher and Ralph Howe in the final) therefore came an incredibly compressed five months to the day after that significant and frequently life-altering operation; and (3) the honoring throughout the weekend of Seymour Knox, a long-time patron of the game and, like his father before him, a former USSRA President, who was known to be dying of cancer (to which he did indeed succumb a few weeks later) at the time the tournament took place, who nevertheless attended every tournament function and most of the Sunday finals and who in a letter he subsequently wrote to the Committee conveyed his immense gratitude at having been invited  to be part of the weekend, stating that it had been his most enjoyable tournament experience ever.


  Doubles squash in the United States has changed a great deal during the 14 years since Proctor’s three-wall from the depths of the back-left corner was collected by the same front-right nick where DeRose’s cross-drop had landed the previous afternoon  --- for one thing, during that entire time frame only one Philadelphian, Trevor McGuinness, has managed to add his name to the Champions List, and he was partnering a New Yorker, Whitten Morris, when they captured the ’08 and ’09 titles in Philadelphia and Denver respectively. For another, enough time has passed since ’96 for a whole new generation of standout players and teams to have emerged during the interim, fully precluding the possibility of a repeat Baltimore-hosted National Doubles champion, as happened with Brinton in ’46 and ’48 and with Diehl Mateer in the three consecutive Baltimore hostings that took place in ’53, ’58 and ’65, each time with a different partner in the case of both men.

   However, the Baltimore-held National Doubles championships have generated so many memorable themes --- from the Hall Of Fame players Lott, Diehl Mateer and the Howe brothers substantially adding to their career legacies by what they achieved at the University Club or the Baltimore Country Club or the Maryland Club, to the eleventh-hour and sometimes capricious partner pick-ups that led a few weeks or days later to a trophy-hoisting, to the myriad of rallies and match-turning moments that this essay has chronicled --- that whatever happens this weekend is bound to enhance the enduring impact of what has happened in Baltimore in the past.

   From Morris Clothier, a National Doubles runner-up each of the past two years, who will be seeking his 10th career title; to Whitten Morris, winner of the National Doubles A division from 2005-07 who therefore has won his competitive bracket of this championship each of the past five years; to Peter Hall, who has such fond memories of his run with Harding to the ’81 title that as soon as he heard that Baltimore would be hosting the 2010 event he immediately made plans to compete in this championship (in the 60-and-over division, with Baltimore’s Charlie Fenwick) for the first time in many years; to Len Bernheimer, who will be returning to the scene of his medical miracle; to the Wyant brothers, Tim and Jack, who will be attempting to join Ed and Joe Hahn, Sam and Ralph Howe and Gil and Drew Mateer as the only siblings to collaborate in a title run  --- all of these decorated protagonists, as well as many others, will be coming to Baltimore this weekend in enthusiastic acknowledgement of how important this venue has been for doubles squash over the years, and out of a respect-suffused recognition of the fact that the history of the U. S. National Men’s Doubles in Baltimore is ultimately, in a very real sense, the history of the U. S. National Men’s Doubles as a whole.

This first appeared on squashtalk.com

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