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

Haverford College Coach Sean Sloane Retires after 12 Years
June 5, 2009, by Rob Dinerman, SquashTalk.com , Independent
; © 2009 SquashTalk LLC       

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Long-Time Williams College Coach As Well

Squashtalk has learned that Sean Sloane, 66, who for the past 12 years has been the head squash and tennis coach of both the men’s and women’s teams at Haverford College in suburban Philadelphia, has retired from his squash positions to concentrate on tennis. Prior to returning to coaching at the intercollegiate level in 1997, Sloane had guided the Williams men’s team from 1970-87 (other than the two mid-1970’s years during which he earned a Doctorate in Sports Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst) before serving as an executive at the USTA as the Director of Education and Recreation Program and as a highly respected referee at pro tennis tournaments.

Coach Sean Sloane retiresKarim Darish and Wael el Hindi

TSloane Coached Squash and Tennis at Williams and at Haverford (photo: ©2009 )

Sloane’s most accomplished college squash team was the 1983-84 Williams squad that was led by Greg Zaff — who played No. 1 throughout all four years, reached the Intercollegiate Individuals final (which he lost in a close five games to Kenton Jernigan) as a senior and eventually rose as high as No. 2 in 1990 on the WPSA pro-hardball tour — and Tom Harrity, later a five-time U. S. Hardball National champion. That pair, backed by teammates Billy Nau, Jamie King, the current Hamilton College coach, and Jeff Sultar, was ranked in the top four in the end-of-season intercollegiate team standings that year. Zaff, who in a recent phone interview lauded his former coach for his calm demeanor and  ability to tailor his coaching style to the personalities of each of his individual players, fondly remembers Sloane for focused, incisive between-games advice during intercollegiate matches, as well as for driving him all the way from Williamstown to Washington DC (and back) in February ’82 on what otherwise would have been a weekend off so that his young charge, a sophomore at the time, would have the experience of “playing up” by competing in that year’s U. S. Nationals. Zaff also was in synch with his coach in the aftermath of a college win over the favored Sakhi Khan during an away match against Tufts which he won by out-lasting his vaunted opponent and which both player and coach identified during the car ride back to campus as a breakthrough win and a tangible sign that Zaff’s conditioning efforts during the prior months were definitely starting to pay off.

Coach Sloane was himself aware of a breakthrough moment in his own development as a coach when his first standout player, Tyler Griffin ’72, attained the final round of the Intercollegiate Individuals his senior year. Griffin’s semifinal opponent, Harvard captain Dave Fish, who had edged out an 18-17 fifth-game win when the pair had met in the dual meet several weeks earlier, was leading two games to one in this rematch, largely by starting early Griffin’s deadly reverse-corner and hence getting to the ball in time to hit winners on his returns. During the break after the third game (the only time in a match when coaches are allowed to speak with their players), Sloane urged Griffin to “hold” his swing a little longer and alternate his short game with deep balls as well. Griffin perfect application of this stratagem enabled him to make Fish cover much more ground and to have to account for many more options, fatiguing him sufficiently in each of the final two games for Griffin to break away from his opponent at mid-game, going from about 7-all to 15-9 final tallies both times. Griffin, by the way, who had played No. 2 during his high-school years behind Palmer Page at Episcopal Academy (whose coach never had the pair play a challenge match), was convinced that he was capable of defeating Page, the Intercollegiate Individuals winner in ’71; they finally met when Williams had a dual-meet with Penn in ’72, and Griffin did indeed prevail.

Always smilingKarim Darish and Wael el Hindi

CSA honored Sloane by naming the team sportmanship award in his name (photo: ©2009 )

Unsurprisingly in view of Sloane’s long and respected tenure as an elite tennis referee — including more than two decades as head referee at the Volvo tournament, a major stop on the pro tour in its various locations in New Hampshire, Vermont and, eventually, New Haven — his college squash (as well as tennis) teams have always been known for their excellent sportsmanship; in recognition of which, during the 2004-05 season, the College Squash Association (CSA) renamed its annual Team Sportsmanship Award in his honor. Additional highlights of his tenure at Haverford College include the Chaffee Award for outstanding team sportsmanship that was bestowed upon the women’s squad (which in 2003 defeated Franklin & Marshall for the first time to earn the unofficial Centennial Conference championship) a few years ago at the Howe Cup (the women’s intercollegiate team championship competition); the honoring of five women’s team members as exceptional Scholar-Athletes; and the selection in 2002 of team captain Tim Saint as that year’s recipient of the Skillman Award, presented annually to the outstanding player/sportsman in men’s intercollegiate squash. Saint, who arrived at Haverford in the late-1990’s having been steeped in squash both during his childhood in New York (his father, Harry, was something of a squash pioneer when he became one of the first people to open up a number of commercial-squash clubs in New York during an early-1970’s era when squash had heretofore been confined to exclusive private clubs) and at the Phillips Exeter Academy, was instrumental in actively recruiting tennis players to take up squash and then devoting many hours helping Coach Sloane in enabling those players to make the transition.

During Sloane’s early years at Haverford College, the team had to both practice and play its home matches on the school’s existing hardball courts, but the program took a big step forward when the Gardner Integrated Athletic Center with its five glass-back-wall international-sized courts opened in 2005. A Princeton ’64 graduate and nationally ranked age-group competitor himself for a number of years, Coach Sloane leaves behind a deep varsity squash program (which numbered 19 women and 14 men this past season) that maintains a heavy schedule (including the best small-college teams in the east and a number of larger universities as well) and has moved to a whole new level during his dozen years at the helm.

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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


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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