SquashTalk>Features>Player
Profiles
>Mark Talbott

Mark Talbott on the WPSA Tour ca. 1982, (photo
courtesy WPSA archives)

Champion and Yale Head Women’s Coach
Mark Talbott
(note: sections 1 and 4 of this article
courtesy Yale University Sports Information, sections 2 & 3 © 2000
Ron Beck)

Squash legend Mark Talbott, the world’s
top ranked professional squash player for 12 seasons, begins his second season
at the helm of the Yale women’s squash program. In his rookie year he guided
the Bulldogs to eight victories, including wins over Ivy League rivals Cornell
and Brown.

Talbott, who held the No. 1 singles ranking
from 1983 to 1995 and is now a member of the top ranked doubles squad, won
70 percent of the tournaments he entered as the World Hardball Champion and
the American Softball Champion.

He captained the first USA Team to compete
in the Pan Am Games in 1995 and is a three-time (1991, 92, 95) Olympic Athlete
of the Year. Talbott, who won the Sharif Khan Award for Sportsmanship in 1991
and the United States Squash Racquets Association (USSRA) President’s Cup
in 1989, was the World Professional Squash Association (WPSA) Player of the
Year in 1983, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91 and 92. He was the WPSA Man of the Year
in 1985 and the 1982 Rookie of the Year.

Talbott has won 170 professional tournaments.
The major titles include five North American Opens, six World Professional
Championships, three Canadian Opens, two U.S. Opens, three Boston Opens, three
S.L. Green Softball Nationals and a pair of North American Open Doubles titles.

Who is this kid?

When Talbott first emerged
into the squash scene, first as a junior and then an aspiring amateur, he
was good but not great. One of his strengths was his family ties. The Talbott
brothers were an incredibly close-knit group, and the support and enthusiasm
of his brothers, who accompanied him to many tourneys, always gave him help,
support and advice.

Talbott enrolled at Trinity
college but wasn’t happy with the college regimen. Then he disappeared entirely
from the scene – noone knew to where.

As it transpired, he traveled
the world. And a long stay in South Africa was pivotal to his squash game.
Somehow during that stay, he gained a level of discipline and dedication and
understanding of the tactics of the international game that allowed him to
rapidly elevate his game.

He returned to the USA,
emerged on the scene of the new WPSA pro tour, and the rest is history.

What was it about Mark Talbott?

What was it that made Mark Talbott a champion?
It wasn’t power, it wasn’t dominant attacking or creative shotmaking.

It seemed above all, to be a mental attitude
towards the game. This combined a calm, confidence, an understanding of the
flow and an amazing patience and accuracy.

Mark often said it was simple – he started
winning the events and then he got five rounds of practice a weekend while
his challengers got one two or three. Well that may have been part of it –
but it was more like an indefineable mental discipline.

This further translated into his defining
characteristic – his extremely high level of sportsmanship and his positive
manner on the court. And it’s for that gift he gave to the game that he will
be longest rememb
ered.

The Legacy of Talbott

Talbott, the head of the USSRA nominating
committee and the National Director of Junior Development, served as national
coach for the 1994 and 1996 Junior Men’s World Team. In 1991, he created the
Talbott Squash Academy in Newport, R.I., named the official national training
center of the USSRA. It has earned the reputation as the finest junior and
adult training center in the world.

Talbott, featured in numerous magazines
during his playing career, including twice by Sports Illustrated, will have
an office next door to his older brother, Dave, the Yale men’s coach for 15
seasons.

The Talbotts form a family combination
that is full of Yale tradition and professional and international playing
experience. Their grandfather, Nelson S. Talbott, captained the 1914 Bulldog
football team and their father, Doug ‘47, was a member of the Yale swimming
team.


Mark Talbott meets Jahangir Khan in New York
at the Chivas Regal. (photo courtesy WPSA archives)