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Canadian National Hardball

CANADIAN NATIONAL HARDBALL
CHAMPIONS ROSTER By Rob Dinerman

When Jamie Bentley defeated
WPSA colleague Scott Dulmage in late January ’95 in a four-game match between
two former champions(Jamie ’89, Scott ’87), he thereby became the final winner
of the Canadian National Hardball Championships, an event that began in 1912
and wound up with 75 renditions.

Other than a break during
the two world wars (1916-1919 and 1941-1945), the Canadian Nationals not only
was held every year but combined with its U.S. Nationals counterpart to become
the culmination of the hardball season. Especially in the second half of the
twentieth century, the presence of the leading Canadian players in the U.S.
Nationals became increasingly common, and the fact that the two events were
often bunched on consecutive or nearly consecutive weekends in mid-February
contributed to the psychological synergy between the two events.

This phenomenon presented
itself in virtually every conceivable permutation. John Nimick gained so much
momentum from winning the Canadian Nationals in ’82 that no one could stop
him when the U.S. event was held in Washington D.C. the following week, while
Ned Edwards became so demoralized by his unexpected and convincing semi-final
loss to Victor Harding in ’81 that he never regained his equilibrium and didn’t
come close to fulfilling his top-seeded status in Detroit the following week,
losing in the quarters to the unseeded Edgardo Alvarez. Both Victor Niederhoffer
in ’74 and Peter Briggs two years later were so galvanized by the upset losses
they suffered in Canadian National finals they had been considered sure shots
to win that the extra motivation spurred them to U.S. championships one week
later, with Victor exacting revenge over his Canadian Nationals conqueror,
Gordy Anderson, in Annapolis, while a chastened Briggs buzzed through the
draw in Philadelphia without the loss of a single game.

Some players, like three-time
champs and native Canadians Phil Mohtadi(’76, ’77 and ’80)and Scott Stoneburgh(’91-’93),
reached their peak at the Canadian event and entered the U.S. tourney too
exhausted or satiated to match this standard, while others, notably Charles
Brinton, looked upon the entire season as a kind of ramp that led to what
he regarded as the top of the mountain, the U. S. National championship. It
is a tribute both to Brinton’s perception and modesty in knowing that he could
reach his true peak only once per year and to his ability to time precisely
the attainment of that peak that he never won the Canadian Nationals (which
he regarded as the final stepping-stone in his season-long pre-U.S. Nationals
climb), yet managed to win the U. S. Nationals four straight times in the
early 1940’s.

In 1953, Earnest Howard
parlayed his aggressive volleying style to become the first of four Canadians
to win the U. S. Nationals (followed by the hard-hitting Colin Adair in ’68
and ’71, the fleet-footed Michael Desaulniers in ’78 and ’80 and the smoothly
graceful Scott Dulmage in ’88). All four of these men also won their home
country’s national squash championship-Howard in ’53, Adair in ’69 and ’71,
Desaulniers in ’78 and Dulmage in ’87, and the first three-named are joined
by six Americans in their dual accomplishment of winning both titles in the
same year, namely Beekman Pool in ’32, Henri Salaun in ’56 and ’57, Sam Howe
in ’67, Anil Nayar in ’70, Niederhoffer in ’75 and Nimick in ’82.

In addition, Mario Sanchez
in ’79 became the only Mexican to win both events in the same year and, for
that matter, the only Mexican ever to win the Canadian Nationals. In addition
to the foregoing, there are also four other Americans—Herbert Rawlings in
the late 1920’s, Neil Sullivan in the late 1930’s, Ben Heckscher in the late
1950’s and Steve Vehslage in the mid 1960’s-who won both national titles at
some point in their careers, usually only a year or two apart.

Many of the Canadian
Nationals winners, especially from the late 1970’s onward when professional
squash started to seriously grow, would go on to become stars on the WPSA
hardball tour, and it is a tribute to their staying power that even now, nearly
seven years after this event made its curtain call in the mid 1990’s, that
a number of the last few Canadian National champions, including Stoneburgh,
Dulmage and Bentley, are still very highly ranked on the current ISDA professional
doubles tour that has enjoyed such recent success. The Canadian Nationals
has a rich history that thoroughly permeated squash throughout the twentieth
century, and its legacy continues strongly even today.

1912 K Molson 1958 Henri Salaun
1913 P. MacKenzie 1959 Henri Salaun
1914 L. C. Outerbridge 1960 Ben Heckscher
1915 G. H. Southam 1961 Don Legatt
1916-1919 Not held 1962 J. W. S. Chapman
1920 L. C. Outerbridge 1963 J. W. S. Chapman
1921 C. Peabody 1964 J. W. S. Chapman
1922 C. Peabody 1965 Robert Hetherington
1923 J. Labreque 1966 Stephen Vehslage
1924 Capt.
Gerald Robarts
1967 Sam Howe
III
1925 Ralph A. Powers 1968 Steve Vehslage
1926 J.H. Chipman 1969 Colin Adair
1927 Capt. Victor. A.
Cazalet
1970 Anil Nayar
1928 Jay Iselin 1971 Colin Adair
1929 Herbert N. Rawlins,
Jr.
1972 C. Nancarrow
1930 A. Martin 1973 G. Anderson
1931 A. Martin 1974 G. Anderson
1932 Beekman Pool 1975 Victor Niederhoffer
1933 A. Martin 1976 Phil Mohtadi
1934 E. Snell 1977 Phil Mohtadi
1935 H. Martin 1978 Michael Desaulniers
1936 C. H. Pooley 1979 Mario Sanchez
1937 N. J. Sullivan 1980 Phil Mohtadi
1938 H. Martin 1981 Jay Gillespie
1939 H. Martin 1982 John Nimick
1940 Hunter H.
Lott
1983 Gil Mateeer
1941-45 Not played 1984 Brad Desaulniers
1946 J. L. Leibel 1985 Alan Grant
1947 Joe Hahn 1986 Paul Deratney
1948 Joe Hahn 1987 Scott Dulmage
1949 J. L. Leibel 1988 M Barber
1950 Ed Hahn 1989 Jamie Bentley
1951 Henri Salaun 1990 M Barber
1952 Henri Salaun 1991 Scott Stoneburgh
1953 Earnest Howard 1992 Scott Stoneburgh
1954 Diehl Mateer 1993 Scott Stoneburgh
1955 Diehl Mateer 1994 M Leckie
1956 Henri Salaun 1995 Jamie Bentley
1957 Henri Salaun  

 

 

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