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Tom
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CREATIVE FORCES IN SQUASH
MEDIA, MARKETING & EVENTS


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February
2005, By Ron Beck © 2005 SquashTalk
Photos: © 2005 Debra Tessier for SquashTalk

Created and Published Squash
News for 21 Years

Alicia McConnell is one of many who appeared on SquashNews
covers.

Tom Jones and
Hazel White Jones receive the College Squash Association (CSA) Lifetime
Achievement Award the weekend of February 25th in Boston Massachusetts.
It was a celebration of two unique individuals who impacted the careers
of most of the college coaches in the room at that celebration.

Tom and Hazel
White Jones came modestly onto the US squash scene in 1978, introducing
a small publication called Squash News. Up until their new publication,
the US squash community had to wait for their yearly US Squash yearbook
to get news about squash tournament results around the country. Now news
was available on a monthly basis, with more details about more tournaments.
It created a revolution. After the USSRA embraced the publication, by
subsidizing subscriptions for all USSRA members, Squash News
earned a permanent place in the squash scene, providing tournament calendars,
results, and more. It also became the catalyst for creation of whole new
businesses in squash – the 1-800 telephone equipment companies,
who now had a way to reach squash players. The Jones quite literally invented
and built squash media in the USA. And Squash News
had a glorious and wonderful 21 year run.

Tom Jones

Tom and Hazel
were always a wonderful pair. Tom, who came from a traditional country-club
type background, and was the number one squash player at University of
Rochester, was comfortable in the traditional setting of invitational,
amateur squash; but being a creative marketing man, he was always thinking
and encouraging the entrepreneurial and professional sides of squash.
Tom knew how to present some of these new ideas to the traditionalists
in ways that would slowly get them accepted. Tom was the front man –
lining up advertising and talking up Squash News at every occasion. Meanwhile,
Hazel, who usually was inseparable from Tom, was the detail person. She
produced every edition of Squash News over a twenty-year period, encouraged,
cajoled and prodded local writers to produce material about even the smallest
local event, and built up relationships with the writers and editors of
the squash world in England.

I personally
have very fond memories of Tom and Hazel, who always thought in lock-step
and sometimes even finished each other’s sentences. In my early
tournament days, when I was trying to break onto the national scene, hardly
anyone would acknowledge me, since I came from a non-traditional squash
background, but Tom and Hazel always greeted me warmly, always seemed
to know how I had done in the last event, and always had encouragement
for me. I am sure they did the same thing for dozens of other squash players
around the country.

The first issue of SquashNews after the USSRA parted
ways with the Jones.

But the Jones
contribution to squash went quite far beyond simply the creation of a
squash publication. As squash began an evolution from hardball to softball,
the Jones saw much more clearly than the US squash establishment what
was coming. They were the creators of both the Tournament of Champions
in New York, and the US Open in its current form. They created the format,
got the sponsors, talked the European softball squash stars into appearing
in the USA, and built up the events. Those events are now run by Event
Engine’s John Nimick, but they were the creation of Tom and Hazel.
The Jones also staged the North American Open, the Loews Cup and the International
Grand Prix. And the Jones got their US Open Squash Tournament covered
on ESPN in 1987, the first national TV coverage for squash.

Tom Jones had
a knack for marketing the game of squash and attracting advertisers and
sponsors outside the traditional squash world. The Jones were instrumental
in getting companies like Rolex, Cross, Loews and others to be regular
supporters of squash. After Squash News ended
it’s 21 year run, these advertisers rapidly evaporated. It was Tom’s
charisma and enthusiasm and ability to sell the game that had gained their
commitment.

The demise of
Squash News is one of US Squash’ least proud moments. Tom and Hazel
White Jones, who had devoted a lifetime, a career and all of their spare
time to the promotion and growth of squash were shabbily cast out on the
street by the USSRA. In some back room decisions, that most of us will
never understand, it was decided sometime in 1996 to end support of Squash
News
and subsidize creation of a new magazine, Squash
Magazine
. Squash News, which Hazel had brought to a high
editorial standard, regularly had brought readers published writers such
as George Bell and Derrick Niederman and had introduced the USA to the
wonderful insights of Jonah Barrington and other figures of the game.
The Jones soldiered on, sponsoring local tournaments in a quest to rebuild
their mailing lists and to make the magazine work on a subscription basis,
without the USSRA support. Many of the squash community who had enjoyed
the magazine for 20 years became subscribers. But not enough. It wasn’t
possible financially for them to continue and they quietly published their
last issue and retired from squash completely. They turned over their
valuable archives of squash information to the Talbotts at Yale University,
where some of their memorabilia is on display and the rest over to the
USSRA. An important chapter in US squash came to a close.

Tom and Hazel,
who were absolutely instrumental to the growth of the game between 1978
and 1999, deserve many more evenings to come like the celebration of their
lifetime achievement that happened at the CSA banquet on Sept 26th 2005.
They are two rare individuals who gave a lifetime to squash and left the
game better for it. They were always somewhat in the background, quietly
letting their publications and events take the spotlight. But the memory
of them and their accomplishments should live on in all squash players
minds. Tom Jones has been inducted into the University of Rochester Sports
Hall of Fame and has won the MSRA’s Eddie Standing Trophy, the WPSA’s
Man of theYear award and the USSRA’s President’s Cup.

Hazel White
Jones said, on the eve of this award, “Although awards have been
given to each of us in the past, this is the first time we are being recognized
together, as a team. It really means more than we can ever adequately
express.”




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