by James Zug
The eighty-second Monticello Associations U.S. Squash Doubles Championships had a distinctly Rocky Mountain flavor. One hundred and twenty-three teams came to Denver this past March, making it the largest National Doubles ever held west of the Mississippi. The Denver Athletic Club, with its two courts, was the center of the weekend, with the University Club of Denver and its famous three-exit court and the Denver Club with its equally famous twentieth-floor court also being used.
Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper hosted the traditional Saturday night dinner at his home, the Chessman-Boettcher Mansion. It was a splendid evening. Hickenlooper not only opened up his historic residence but also played in the 65+ draw, partnering with Colorado Springs legend Bill Palmer.
Frank Bonanno, a local squash player and renowned chef, catered the dinner. Bonanno has been behind a dozen of Colorado’s most innovative restaurants and is the host of Chef Driven on PBS. “Picking up new puppy this morning,” Bonanno tweeted that day, “Then prepping for nat’l squash championships party of 300. Tonight, Luca line. A great full day & life.”
The four winners of the open draws all had Denver connections. Suzie Pierrepont is now a resident of Denver. Graham Bassett was born in Denver. Their partners were Meredeth and Preston Quick, Denver natives who were able to win national titles on their old home court at the DAC. It was an unprecedented third time the siblings had captured open titles at the same National Doubles—a feat they pulled off in 2007 and 2012—watch for it in 2022.
Women provided much of the news from this year’s event. Last year’s 50+ champions, Kat Grant & Lissen Tutrone, played down in the 40+ and surprised the reigning champions, sisters Berkeley Revenaugh & Mary McKee in five games. Dawn Gray & Amy Milanek edged out the top-seeded sisters Alicia McConnell & Patrice Cromwell 15-10 in the fifth en route to their first title. Denver local Sara Luther captured her tenth national title in the first-ever contested women’s 55+ division.
For the men, the 40+ had twelve teams of quality unseen in many years, and an 80+ draw was contested for just the fifth time in history. Many competitors repeated successes of the past—Ed Chilton and Andrew Slater captured their fifth title together by winning the 50+, and Tom Poor and Lenny Bernheimer again took national titles—having done so as a team twelve times previously—though this time with different partners in separate divisions. Others produced upsets; in the semis of the 65+ Palmer Page & Casey McKee defeated juggernauts and eight-time champions Michael Pierce & Gordon Anderson 15-11 in the fifth, before going on to win the draw.
The match of the tournament was the final of the men’s 55+. Three of the five games between Charlie Parkhurst & Joe Purrazzella and Rob Hill & Russell Welty ended 15-14. In the fifth, it naturally came down to a double match point. Hill had his reverse clip the top of the tin.