by Christine Bullard
The ninth annual MFS SquashBusters Derby, held in Boston on May 1-2, set records for dollars raised, number of squash legends on court, and fun had. Chris Spahr and the University Club of Boston hosted Friday’s doubles tournament, and the singles played out at the SquashBusters Youth Center on Saturday. Eight teams made up of amateur players, world-class pros, and SquashBusters students competed in fundraising and squash to raise support for the program and kids. Eighty-five fundraising players tapped into their networks and together secured over 1, 000 donations raising nearly $1.1 million to support SquashBusters’ 265 students. Because of these generous contributors, this year’s senior class is headed to college with a love for squash and for the program that helped them get there.
The 2015 MFS SquashBusters Derby included the most impressive lineup of pros to date with three former world No. 1’s (Thierry Lincou, Peter Nicol, and David Palmer) and arguably the best hardball doubles and singles players of all time in Damien Mudge and Mark Talbott. But the squash talent wasn’t limited to the pros. This year’s tournament also saw Tim Brownell, the country’s number one under-19 junior player, and Carson Spahr, another rising squash star who recently won the national father-son tournament with his dad, Chris.
In addition to returning title sponsor, MFS Investment Management, the 2015 MFS SquashBusters Derby was backed by numerous significant sponsors: Steward Health Care System, Suffolk Construction’s Red & Blue Foundation, Westfield Capital Management, Audax Group, Clough Capital Partners, Ernst & Young LLP, Folger Hill Asset Management, General Catalyst Partners, JP Morgan Securities, McCall & Almy, National Development & Charles River Realty Investors, Natixis Global Asset Management, Sapient Global Markets, State Street Corporation, Sun Life Financial, ThermoFisher Scientific, TOG Squash, Cardio High, STAG Industrial, and Windhaven Investment Management.
Other highlights included thirteen-year-old Jack Winston as the youngest player to compete in the MFS SquashBusters Derby, prompting MFS CEO Rob Manning to remark to the crowd of 250+ the encouragement he felt seeing so many young people in attendance and learning the importance of giving back to the community. And give back, they did. Lucky Strike stood out as the only team whose players each raised $5, 000 or more, and seven-peat Derby winner team Wallbanger not only took home the 2015 trophy, but also raised the most money as a team, bringing in $387, 000. This year’s record fundraising total would not have been possible without the hard work of all the player-fundraisers, but none could top the 2015 Secretariat Award winner, John Blasberg, who alone raised $82, 250. The amazing weekend was topped off with incredible cuisine put out by Chef Ming Tsai and a festive after party hosted by Evan Deluty at Stella Restaurant in Boston’s South End.
SquashBusters is the first urban squash program of its kind. Next year will mark the 10th MFS SquashBusters Derby in celebration of the program’s 20th year serving Boston youth through a combination of squash, academic enrichment, and community service.