Report courtesy of Palmer Page.
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill hosted the first collegiate hardball tournament in twenty-five years, April 5-8. 41 players, including 30 college students, participated in the tournament. Multi-time Hardball Nationals Finalist Hamed Anvari flew south from the Northeast to help promote hardball.
“This is a great game,” said Adam Merchant, the Division 1 number one seed from Davidson College. “The shot-making is critical to winning and is so different [from a regular squash game]. Playing the angles is a lot of fun. I can see this really catching on.”
The official tournament began Saturday, and began a series of tightly contested matches across five divisions plus an Open division:
Division 1: Palmer Page d. Christopher Gsell (Carolina Squash captain).
Division 2: Christopher Klipstein d. Gary Yeager
Division 3: Kit Tatum d. Paul Chan
Division 4: John McBride d. Rick Taft
Division 5: S. Bhaskar d. Hazim Mukhtar
Open: Hamed Anvari d. Christopher Gsell
Apart from the official matches, there were superlatives awarded. Georgia Tech, who drove from Atlanta after classes and arrived at midnight for the tournament, won “Most Dedicated.” Rod Smith, who won “Greatest Distance”, came from San Diego and won third place in Division 2 after losing in the fifth game to Christopher Klipstein in the semis.
At the end of tournament, UNC-CH gave away hardballs to collegiate players from participating schools to grow interest at the collegiate level. “What a great weekend. We can’t wait to use the new hardballs in our new [20 ft] courts,” said Oliver Wade from the College of Charleston
There were many outside-the-tournament activities planned throughout the weekend. On Friday, there was golf in the morning, a clinic conducted by Anvari in the afternoon, and a garden party held at the Page home in the evening. Former Chancellor of UNC-CH, James Moeser and his wife, Susan, welcomed all to the garden party as guests ate Time Out’s southern chicken for dinner. On Saturday, guests welcomed catering from Italian Pizzaria III for lunch at the courts and a buffet dinner at the Chapel Hill Country Club.
The success of the tournament led organizers to plan for it to be an annual occurrence. Following the event, there was discussion of expanding the concept to include team-based club college competition among southern schools in the fall, welcoming other schools from around the country as well.