SquashTalk >Al Ahram 2001, Cairo, Egypt > Historical Records

Carol Weymuller: Squash &
Tennis International

May 21, 2007, By Rob Dinerman on SquashTalk.com, Independent
News
; © 2007 SquashTalk LLC, all Rights in all media reserved.

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COACHED AT HEIGHTS CASINO, GENESSEE VALLEY CLUB AND, CURRENTLY,
HOBART

siddall stoker
Carol Weymuller
(Photo © Debra Tessier)

This highly decorated and tremendously popular
squash icon recently completed her 12th season at the coaching reins
of the men’s
squash team at Hobart College, whom she guided to consecutive top-12
season-end College Squash Association rankings (No. 11 in 2004, including
wins over Brown and Amherst in the postseason tournament, and No.
12 in 2005) during the early 2000’s as one of the very few
women in intercollegiate history to achieve such coaching success
with a men’s team.

Carol Weymuller’s praiseworthy Hobart
coaching record, however, as well as the competitive marks she made
first in tennis (including three 1960’s Orange Bowl Junior
titles, membership on several Wightman Cup rosters and a spot in
the main-draw of the first-ever U. S. Open at Forest Hills in 1968)
and later in squash (highlighted by national rankings in the second
half of the top ten throughout the late 1970’s and membership
on four U. S. squads that competed in the biennial World Team Championships
from 1977-83) will always take a back seat to what would become her
and husband Fred’s foremost career legacy, namely the junior
program that they formed, nurtured and made into a colossus at the
Heights Casino Club in Brooklyn Heights during the 1970’s.

siddall stoker
Carol Weymuller
facing legendary Heather McKay in 1979. (Photo © SquashTalk
archive )

This latter phenomenon was destined to transform
both the culture of the club itself (which, like virtually all of
its counterparts had previously been oriented primarily to the needs/interests
of its adult members rather than their offspring) and, more broadly,
the entire squash environment in this country. Prior to 1970, when
Carol Weymuller began her decade-long tenure at Heights Casino, initially
solely as a tennis pro assisting Fred, whom she married in 1972,
Philadelphia had been the only area in the United States where any
formal program to introduce youngsters to squash was in existence,
primarily at the Merion Cricket Club, which unsurprisingly produced
a majority of the players who won the U. S. National Junior and Men’s
championships during the pre-1970’s period.

Against this entrenched,
decades-long backdrop, enormous credit must be given to the Weymullers
for having to a major degree fueled the squash boom of the 1970’s
and 1980’s by leading
the way and helping provide the manpower needed to fill the high-school
and college varsities, tournament draw sheets, court bookings and
league rosters that played such an important role in the sport’s
dramatic expansion. Beginning with only a handful of somewhat reluctant
teenagers, the Weymullers through word of mouth swiftly built up
the program to the point where at its late-1970’s peak there
were approximately 150 grade- and high-school participants involved
in some 250 squash/tennis sessions every week (the Weymullers encouraged
their charges to be, as they termed it, “bilingual” in
racquet sports), overloading the venerable club’s two singles
courts (and two tennis courts) to the point where the Weymullers
had to adapt by overseeing early-morning sessions from 6:30 – 8:00
every weekday before school along with the afternoon lessons/clinics
which often went well into the evening hours.

siddall stoker
Alicia McConnell,
one of Carol’s most famous proteges (here pictured against
Nina Porter) , won the Weymuller
WISPA event seven times. (Photo © SquashTalk
archive )

Accomplishing this
feat required the vision to see where squash was potentially headed,
the physical energy to arrive at the club by 6:00 a.m. and often
not leave until as late as 11:00 at night (not to mention devoting
entire weekends to junior tournaments), the diplomatic acumen to
persuade the adult members to sacrifice a fair amount of their own
access to the courts and the charisma to inspire the kids themselves
to devote their energy to the tennis and squash programs that the
Weymullers instituted. Fred and Carol Weymuller took pro-active stances
on other fronts as well during that time: they were among the first
to foresee the eventual advent and takeover of the softball game,
even during the hard-ball-dominated 1970’s, and in 1979 they
took six talented Casino juniors to Australia to compete for six
weeks at a time when an excursion of this nature would have been
unthinkable in the ensconced American squash environment.

Inspired
by that adventure, less than a year later Carol Weymuller took the
first American junior girls team over to Sweden to play in the unofficial
first World Junior Girls Team Championships, which, shockingly, the
U. S. won, led by future USSRA Hall Of Famer Alicia McConnell, one
of the most gifted Weymuller protégés,
who took the Individual crown. McConnell would then lose in the team
final to Katja Sauerwald, the player she had defeated a few days
earlier in the Individual final, but her teammates Kathy Castle (now
better known as Kat Van Blarcom) and Karen Kelso came through with
victories to give the Americans a 2-1 win over Sweden in the team
competition.

siddall stoker
Berkeley Belknap
(r), another Weymuller protege.
(Photo © Debra Tessier)

McConnell was perhaps the most prominent of, as noted,
the many dozens of Heights Casino Weymuller “alumni/ae” to
achieve noteworthy distinction in squash in college and beyond: others
(but by no means all) on this list include Harvard ’85 captain
David Boyum, who rose as high as No. 7 on the WPSA men’s pro
tour and reached the finals of the 1983 U. S. Nationals and the 1990
North American Open; McConnell’s older sister, Patrice, a three-time
Princeton captain; Boyum’s younger sister Ingrid, the Harvard ’86
and ‘87 captain and a Junior national champion; the Belknap
sisters Lee, Berkeley (’91 Intercollegiate Individual winner)
and Mary, captains at Franklin & Marshall, Yale and Princeton
respectively in the early 1990’s; Tom and Kerry Clayton, the
only brother/sister duo ever to be captains of their respective Yale
varsities in the same year (1988-89); 1985 Intercollegiate Individual
champion Mary Hulbert; Yale ’92 captain Garrett Frank; and
Eric Vlcek, a six-time U. S. National Doubles champion.

… In
short- I consider Carol like my second mom. I spent many of
my high school weekends with her traveling to and from squash
tournaments . She
pushed and stretched me to do my best but also comforted me when
I needed it. She would meet me at any time of day to play- at
lunch time, at the crack of dawn, late at night. She always had
fun/ challenging drills for us to do. When I look back on my
time with her and Fred I think of not only all of the hard work
and training but also of all of the laughs and hugs we shared.
She is an amazing woman and leader and should be a role model
for all budding squash coaches
.

– Blair Irwin

By the time
that McConnell and her mates had accomplished their heroics in Sweden,
the Weymuller era at Heights Casino was fast approaching its conclusion,
but Carol Weymuller’s career
as a player/administrator/coach was still very much in its prime.
She would serve as team captain of the U. S. squads that performed
in the World Team Championships in Toronto in ’81 and in Australia
in ’83; as President of the Women’s Division of the USSRA
from 1981-83 at a crucial time in the wake of the merger between
the USSRA and the United States Women’s Squash Racquets Association
(USWSRA) a few years earlier; as Tournament Chairman of  annual
pro women’s events first at Heights Casino, which named that
tourney in her honor in 1981 and which continues to this day on the
WISPA circuit, and then in Rochester, both of which became important
stops on the WASPA women’s pro circuit during the mid-1980’s;
and as coach of the World Junior Team in Ireland in 1985.

By this
latter juncture, she and Fred were well along in the 13 years they
spent (from 1980-93) at the Genesee Valley Club in Rochester, where
they reprised their Brooklyn mission and similarly established a
solid junior program that likewise produced a number of prep-school
and college team standouts (among them current USSRA CEO Kevin Klipstein;
Princeton star Blair Irwin, who went undefeated in dual-meet play
in her college career as a prominent member of two late-1990’s
Tiger Howe Cup titles-winning teams; the Gabel brothers, Chris, Jon
and Harrison; Junior national champion and Yale standout Whitney
Stewart; and ’06 Princeton captain Dent Wilkens)  as
well as a host of enthusiastic recreational players.

While the Weymullers
were thus fully immersed in the promotion of squash (and winning
numerous accolades for doing so, most importantly the President’s
Cup that the USSRA awarded them in 1994 in grateful recognition of
their years of service, as well as the  Achievement Bowl and
the Feron’s National
Sportsmanship Trophy that Carol Weymuller received in 1980 and 1988
respectively), Carol Weymuller was also maintaining her long relationship
with the regional and national tennis associations as well, especially
her 37-year association with the USPTA (whose women’s annual
tourney she won in 1973 and whose Women’s Committee she chaired
during the early 1970’s) and the Eastern USPTA, which gave
her a lifetime achievement award a few years ago. She has coached
the varsity tennis team as well as the men’s squash team throughout
the dozen years of her tenure at Hobart.

Carol, on hand
to present the eponymous trophy in Brooklyn.
(Photo © Heights Casino )

Now 58 years old and showing
no signs of slowing down, Weymuller continues to return every year
to Brooklyn Heights to personally present the Carol Weymuller Cup
to the winner of the tournament that she and Fred started nearly
40 years ago; her appearance is still a much-anticipated highlight
of the weekend, which has been a softball event since 1993 and which
draws most of the top women players in the world. An involvement
in racquet sports that began when at age 10 she was urged to hit
tennis balls as a form of physical therapy while recovering from
a fractured arm has metamorphosed into a lifetime commitment that
has significantly influenced the configuration of American squash
while bolstering the careers of literally hundreds of grateful racquet-wielding
athletes, while blazing a junior-squash trail upon which dozens of
clubs throughout the country have wisely decided to model themselves.

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Historical information PSA Men's Pro Event:

Year Winner Runnerup Scores
1996 Jansher Khan Ahmed Barada  
1997 Peter Nicol Jansher Khan  
1998 Ahmed Barada Martin Heath 15/5,15/17,15/13,13/15,15/13
1999 Peter Nicol Ahmed Barada 15-9, 15-13, 15-11
2000 Peter Nicol Ahmed Barada 15/14, 9/15, 15/3, 15/12
2001      
       
       

 

Historical information PSA Women's Pro Event:

Year Winner Runnerup Scores
1997 Sarah Fitz-Gerald Michelle Martin  
1998 Michelle Martin Cassie Jackman  
1999 Michelle Martin Carol Owens 9-6, 9-0, 10-9
2000 Leilani Joyce Carol Owens 8/10, 9/7, 9/5, 3/9, 9/5

 







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