US SQUASH

Akabane and Vosters Join U.S. Squash Hall of Fame

Ashlee Vosters and Ginny Akabane

At a special luncheon before the finals of the 2019 FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships, US Squash inducted Ginny Akabane and Bunny Vosters into the United States Squash Hall of Fame.

Kevin Klipstein, the president and CEO of US Squash, welcomed a large crowd of friends, fans and family to the gala luncheon next to the ASB GlassCourt in the Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center. Klipstein spoke about US Squash’s mission of integrity, inclusiveness and innovation. “The Specter Center will be where we bring our values to life,” he said.

Mark Pagon, the chair of the board of US Squash, then spoke about the meaning of excellence. “The ancient Greeks talked about arête,” he said. “It is a word that means both excellence and virtue. It is an aspirational word, that our Hall of Famers not only have had exceptional performances but also reflected integrity and sportsmanship. That is what our Hall of Famers do—they demonstrate the essence of squash.”

The chair of the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame committee, James Zug, spoke of the many squash luminaries at the luncheon. Members of the Hall of Fame committee in attendance included Sam Howe and Gail Ramsay. Five Hall of Famers were at the luncheon: Joyce Davenport (inducted in the class of 2011), Ralph Howe (2002), Sam Howe (2002), Gretchen Spruance (2000) and Carol Thesieres (2018). “As this is the fortieth anniversary of the merger of the U.S. men’s and women’s squash associations,” Zug said, “US Squash is pleased to highlight the history of women’s squash with our first all-female induction class.”

A moving video examined the extraordinary careers of Akabane and Vosters.

Vosters was a record-setting doubles player. She won the National Doubles in 1962, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1971 with Jeanne Classen; 1968 with Betty Meade; 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976 and 1977 with her daughter Gretchen Spruance. She also won the 40+ division of the National Doubles in 1965 and 1966 with Barbara Clement Hunter and 1967 and 1968 with Jeanne Classen. Thus, three times Vosters pulled off the rare double of capturing both the open and 40+ draw on the same weekend, something only one other player has ever accomplished (Barbara Hunter in 1960).

Gretchen Spruance, who was inducted in the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class of 2000, spoke about her mother. “We’d come off the court all sweaty and dishelved,” she said, “and my mother would not have one hair out of place.” Also in the audience was Bunny Vosters’ daughter Nina Vosters Moyer, who won two National Singles titles, and her daughter-in-law Lee Howard Vosters who won a National Intercollegiate Singles title.

Voster’s granddaughter Ashlee Vosters accepted her grandmother’s induction into the Hall of Fame. She told the audience about how Vosters was a basketball and field hockey champion in college, a remarkable tennis player and a pioneering squash player. “She had a keen instinct to win, incredibly steady with impeccable control,” Vosters said. “She was majestic, classy and deadly.”

Gail Ramsay, the head coach of the Princeton’s women team, then introduced Ginny Akabane.

Ginny Akabane won the National Singles in 1975, the Canadian National Singles in 1973 and 1974 and the Hyder in 1979. She also was a member of the Team USA’s squad at the 1979 World Team Championships in Birmingham, England. Akabane was the president of the U.S. Women’s Squash Racquets Association in 1979-81, leading the merger of the national men’s and women’s associations. “Ginny was a fierce competitor with impeccable, gracious sportsmanship,” Ramsay said. “She never had formal coaching. She was the first woman to play in men’s leagues in Rochester. She was twice a finalist at the Carol Weymuller Open—a really outstanding player.”

Akabane then spoke about the changes that she’s seen in the past half century since she started playing squash. “Back in the 1970s, squash was so small,” she said. “Everyone was a friend and an opponent. It was a BoWash game—stretching from Boston to Washington. I have such fond memories of the game of squash as a child and now I love seeing it as an adult. It is all across the country, it has such great diversity. So many women and girls are playing.”

Kevin Klipstein then thanked Akabane for her central role in bringing about the merger of the men’s and women’s association forty years ago. “Your work in pulling off the merger set the stage for the growth in U.S. squash. Without your work then, we would not have been in a position to institute prize-money parity in 2013 and to help lead to prize-money parity for all major pro squash tournaments around the world.”

The U.S. Squash Hall of Fame was founded in 2000. Next year it will move from Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale to its new home at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia. The Hall of Fame is the only national squash hall of fame in the world with annual inductions and a bricks-and-mortar location. With the additions of the Ginny Akabane and Bunny Vosters, there are now sixty-five members of the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame.

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