The 107th National Singles yielded four first-time champions, two repeat champions in the form of Hope Prockop and Carole Grunberg, and saw rivalries renewed this weekend at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
128 adult players competed across thirteen age groups ranging from 35+ to 80+ with eight eight returning champions throughout the field.
The two eldest age groups, men’ 80+ and 75+, both culminated in five-game finals between past and defending champions.
In their fourth nationals match up, Ed Burlingame dethroned Paul Segal 9-11, 11-5, 12-14, 11-7, 11-4, to win his third 80+ title and fifth total national singles title.
The rivalry between Jay Nelson, who holds the all-time national singles title record with thirty, and Gerry Poulton resumed their rivalry with a ninth nationals match in ten years after Poulton aged up to the 75+ division this year. In their most recent match up in 2016, Nelson earned the title record with a 3-0 final win. Nelson appeared to be on track for another win with two-game lead, at which point Poulton turned the match on its head, fighting off multiple championship balls in the fourth to win 8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 15-13, 11-8.
“It’s a great rivalry, we played the very first time I played ten years ago,” Poulton said. “I didn’t know who he was, and he didn’t know who I was. Ever since then our rivalry has gotten better, since then we’ve had four five-setters. I felt in the first two games I was hitting it too much pace and he was cutting it off and putting me under too much pressure, so I toned it down.”
For the second time in her National Singles career, Carole Grunberg won a third consecutive title. Grunberg first achieved the three-peat in the 40+ division from 1994-1996. Grunberg held off first-time competitor Lorraine Tetreault in four games in the final to earn a third consecutive 60+ title and sixth overall National Singles title.
In the men’s 70+ final, William Berlinghoff defeated recently-crowned hardball national champion Tefft Smith in a three-game final to claim his second National Singles title, adding to the 65+ in 2013.
Steven Jacobs earned his first National Singles title in the men’s 65+ with a three-game upset against three-time defending champion Don Sheer, 11-5, 11-8, 11-3.
Thomas Bedore claimed his fourth overall title and second in the men’s 60+ division with a win against first-time finalist Mike Riley, 12-10, 11-6, 5-11, 16-14.
The women’s 55+ division featured a five-game final between defending champion Jill Campion and first-time competitor Julie Multamaki. Multimaki came back from 2-1 down to win her first National Singles title in her first attempt 9-11, 11-9, 1-11, 12-10, 11-6.
The men’s 55+ final rekindled the rivalry between Dominic Hughes and Richard Millman in their sixth final against each other. This year it was Hughes who avenged his 2017 final loss against Millman on the same court, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 11-7.
“It’s always fun, I enjoy playing Richard,” Hughes said. “It’s always a challenge. I was remembering last year’s loss and that was the motivation.”
Hope Prockop continued her astounding National Singles record by claiming two more divisional titles, augmenting her all-time record to twelve titles. Prockop first topped the 40+ plus round robin, which she followed up by defeating Julie Kessler in her first 50+ final. In addition to competing in two National Singles divisions, Prockop officiated and competed in the U.S. Women’s Championship.
“This weekend I had lots of opportunities to play, referee, spectate and socialize with many of the most passionate people I know,” Prockop said. “While there are only trophies for a few–and I am thrilled to get my first 50+ title–a weekend like this reminds me that there is something for everyone in our great game. Huge props to US Squash and Philadelphia Cricket Club for partnering and promoting such a successful event.”
Richard Chin successfully defended his men’s 45+ title, marking his third consecutive. Chin dispatched first-time competitor Lee Scott in the final 11-6, 11-5, 4-11, 11-5.
Nearly three decades after his only national title in the 1990 BU12 division, Tim Wyant earned his first National Singles title without dropping a game in the 35+/40+ division, defeating Shai Ingber in the final 11-9, 11-3, 11-7.
With the 2018 National Singles complete, all roads now lead to Charlottesville, Virginia, where the Boar’s Head Resort is set to host the World Masters for the first time on U.S. soil this summer, July 28-August 4.
“Having played in the World Masters in the past, it is the best tournament in the world,” Hughes said. “I encourage everyone in North America to sign up, it’s a fantastic experience.”
Registration is currently available for international and Team USA players on wmsquash.com.
“I’m looking forward to the 2018 World Masters,” said Prockop, who represented Team USA at the 2016 World Masters in Johannesburg, South Africa. “It’s our time to host the worldwide event that truly embodies lifelong love of the sport.”
“It is a hoot, you’ve got to play in this tournament,” said Poulton, who will represent Canada this summer. “You get to see old friends, make new friends and the squash is competitive for all. The camaraderie is superb. It’s the first time it’s been in the states, so everyone in North America should play.”