At a special luncheon before the finals of the 2018 FS Investments U.S. Open Squash Championships, US Squash inducted Anil Nayar and Carol Thesieres 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 a life-long positive engagement in squash and the organization’s four focus areas: access, community, sportsmanship and excellence.
Mark Pagon, the chair of the board of US Squash, then spoke about the meaning of excellence. “The ancient Greeks talked about the term arête,” he said. “They said that excellence was not only about exceptional performances but also about a performance that illuminated the essence of the activity. 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 Kevin Jernigan. Nine Hall of Famers were at the luncheon: Joyce Davenport (inducted in the class of 2011), Ned Edwards (2003), Ben Heckscher (2017), Maurice Heckscher (2017), Ralph Howe (2002), Sam Howe (2002), Kenton Jernigan (2008), Jay Nelson (2013) and Tom Poor (2012).
A moving video highlighted in pictures the extraordinary careers of Nayar and Thesieres.
Joyce Davenport introduced Thesieres. Davenport noted two facts about Thesieres: she is one of just seven women to captured the career trifecta of U.S. championships—the National Singles, National Doubles and National Mixed—and the only lefthander to have won the National Mixed. She told the story of Thesieres helping lead a women’s team to enter the Philadelphia men’s B league. Thesieres, Davenport said, loved playing on cold courts where her powerful, low drives were particularly effective.
Thesieres thanked her former partners Joyce Davenport, Jane Austin Stauffer and Irma Brogan; her coaches, Norm Bramall who introduced her to the game at the Cynwyd Club, and Al Chassard; and her late husband Terry. She told stories about playing British women at the Pentagon, guiding Australian women around Philadelphia in a snowstorm and hosting a half a dozen players during pro tournaments at the Cynwyd Club. “It’s been a great ride and adventure,” she said.
Michel Schiemann then introduced Anil Nayar. Schiemann was Nayar’s freshman year roommate and squash teammate at Harvard. He talked about their half century of friendship. He noted tough matches at the Naval Academy and later exhibitions in Paris. He also wished Nayar a happy birthday today: the 13th of October was his seventy-second birthday.
“Anil was the most beautiful squash player,” Schiemann said. “He grew up playing in the heat in Mumbai and so never sweated when he was playing on cold hardball courts in America. Not a drop of sweat. It was psychologically devastating to play against him.”
Nayar spoke about his arrival in Cambridge in September 1965 and the warm welcome he received from his squash teammates. He thanked Dinny Adams, the captain of the Harvard team his first year and how Adams, before the finals of the 1969 National Singles, had used shaving cream to spray a simple, effective message for Nayar on a bathroom mirror: “No tins.”
He spoke about Yusuf Khan, his childhood coach in Mumbai. “He taught me to enjoy the process,” Nayar said. Khan died two days ago in Seattle. He also spoke warmly about the late Jack Barnaby, his college coach at Harvard, who always gave insightful advice.
Nayar concluded with a quotation from the Dalai Lama: “Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”
The U.S. Squash Hall of Fame was founded in 2000. Based at Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale, it 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 Anil Nayar and Carol Thesieres, there are now sixty-three members of the U.S. Squash Hall of Fame.