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Treddy Ketcham:
A Life in Squash

By Rob Dinerman, Dec
24, 2001 updated April 2002

Treddy Ketcham, ca. 1975

PROFILE
OF SQUASH LEGEND TREDDY KETCHAM

Probably no individual has
established a more visible persona in the squash world during the past
50 years than William Tredwell Ketcham. Affectionately known as Treddy,
he has been President of both the New York MSRA(1959-61) and USSRA(1965-67);
has served as American captain in the annual U.S.-Canada Lapham-Grant
competition and Tournament Chairman for more than 35 years(and counting)
of the Gold Racquets Invitational, hosted every year in Cedarhurst, Long
Island during the first weekend in December; and is the donor of honorary
cups at virtually every competitive level.

His ever-present and energetic
involvement have combined with a gregarious hail-fellow-well-met personality
to make him one of the most beloved figures in the sport and a welcome
fixture at every significant event.

Born in New York City on August
2, 1919, Ketcham started playing squash at age 12 at the Rockaway Hunting
Club(host site for the Gold Racquets) under the tutelage of two professionals,
Leif Nordlie and later Johnny Smith, during his grade-school years at
Lawrence Country Day School. He then followed his father and uncle to
the Hill Prep School in suburban Philadelphia, whose team he played on,
before attending Yale(also his dad’s alma mater), where he rejoined two
contemporaries from his Rockaway junior years, Worthy Adams and Ewing
Philbin, as solid members of several Eli Intercollegiate Championship
teams.

After volunterring for military
service several months after his graduation in 1941, he then spent five
years in the Marine Corps, a time Treddy recalls with great fondness and
respect, and the distinction and devotion with which he served during
World War II culminated in his receiving the revered Navy Cross for heroism
at Iwo Jima in 1945.

After returning to the States,
he completed the three-year program at Yale Law School and spent several
years each first with the New York law firm of Davis Polk and then in
France and London working for the government. This latter experience overseas
landed him a prestigious post as Special Counsel of the IBM World Trade
Americas Far East Corporation beginning in the mid-1950s(when he permanently
returned to New York and began his squash career in earnest) and continuing
until his retirement at age 65 in 1984.

Treddy Ketcham (second
from right), with contemporaries, especially Stewart Brauns (Far left),
Darwin Kingsley Jr (next on left), Ted Friehl (center) and Joe Hahn (far
right).

Ketcham was both a proud product and staunch
advocate of a period in squash’s
evolution when camaraderie was more important than competition, when the amateur
ethic was truly an honored doctrine and when great fulfillment was derived
from giving something back to the game that gave one so much pleasure. It
was out of respect for that (sadly) dated credo that he would donate the President’s
Cup “to that person who has made a substantial contribution to the game of
squash racquets” while USSRA President; establish the MSRA counterpart to
that honor, the Board of Governors Award, during his MSRA Presidency; present
the WPSA Man Of The Year Award to North American squash’s foremost professional
organization in 1971; bestow a Junior Award for improvement and sportsmanship
several years later; and initiate the Ketcham Cup as a doubles-oriented companion-piece
to the longstanding New York-Philadelphia-Boston Lockett Cup Tri-City competition.

Treddy Ketcham (upper left) with
partner Newt Meade on his way to his seventh senior National Doubles Title.

This latter contribution points
up Treddy’s well-known interest in doubles, which he feels entails a degree
of strategy and teamwork that made the game more appealing to him than singles.
It is worth noting in this context that Ketcham, far from being merely a
vocal proponent of doubles, was a highly proficient practitioner of this
discipline as well; in fact, during the decade-long period from 1965-74,
he won the USSRA Senior(50-and-over)Doubles Championship seven times with
four different partners(both all-time records in this age group), and the
Eddie Standing Trophy “for sportsmanship combined with a high level of play”
which he received at the MSRA Annual Banquet at the conclusion of the 1961-62
season accurately reflects both his long-recognized good-hearted comportment
and his sometimes overlooked racquet acumen..

Though now well into his ninth decade
and just a few years removed from serious health problems that arose in late
1996 and plagued him for the first half of the following year, Ketcham remains
extraordinarily active and engaged on a number of widely varied fronts; indeed,
the interview I conducted with him late this fall had to be scheduled several
weeks in advance to accommodate the brimming nature of the schedule he continues
to maintain.

Since 1987 he has been President of his
squash stomping ground at Rockaway, of whose annual invitational, as noted,
he is still the Chairman; many of squash’s most prominent players make their
annual pilgrimage to Long Island as much for the opportunity to support their
old friend and see him in his element as for the always-competitive tourney
that awaits them.

Treddy is also the American representative
for the Jesters, Chairman of The Friends of Yale Squash and a Trustee for
the USSRA’s highly successful Endowment Fund, in all of which capacities he
has served for more than 25 years. He is also a Vice President of the International
Lawn Tennis Club and a member of the Board of Governors for the Prentice Cup,
a biannual tennis competition matching up six members from current Yale and
Harvard squads(three from each school) against a similarly composed Cambridge-Oxford
group, with each country alternating as host. The players are selected both
for their ability and for their goodwill ambassador standing, and Ketcham,
himself the fairest and most highly regarded of players during his own lengthy
era, has an important role in determining the composition of the U.S. team.

Like a diligent farmer whose months
of toil yield a full and plenteous harvest, Treddy has in recent years
been reaping the deserved rewards for all his years of friendship and
enthusiasm. In 1998 the now-thriving NISRA Intercollegiate Doubles Championship,
which he had practically singlehandedly revived a decade earlier after
a lengthy hiatus, was named in his honor. And just this past year at the
annual ceremony at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hyde Park estate in upstate
New York honoring FDR’s famous Four Freedoms speech, in which each of
the four major services are represented by one of its former heroes, Ketcham
was chosen to carry the banner for the Marines Corps which he served with
such distinction nearly six decades ago, and was given a medal in recognition
of his valor.

David Tallbot introduces
Treddy Ketcham at the Yale vs Princeton match in
2003
© 2003 Debra Tessier

Though forced for the last several
years to walk with the aid of a cane, Ketcham’s mind remains as nimble and
sharp as ever, and the gentle quips, fond reminiscences and still-keen interest
in the latest tournament result or squash development are the hallmarks
of one whose spirit will be forever young. One of the few Honorary Life
members of the USSRA, he was also inducted last year into the Squash Hall
of Fame. His strongest squash memory, characteristically, is not of his
titles or the many awards he has both given and received, but rather of
what a wonderful time he had playing the game for so long (though it is
not in his nature to be bitter, one of his few regrets is that he is no
longer able to go back out onto the court and play some more)and of the
multitudinous friendships and relationships throughout the country, and
indeed the entire world, that he has formed during his 70 years of richly-diversified
involvement in the game.

I left our interview with the strong conviction
of how fitting it is that this immensely generous and benevolent man, who
has himself been such a good friend to the game, has gained so many friendships
from it, and continues to do so even at this ripe stage of his life; this
fact, in addition to being completely poetically just, contains as well a
valuable object lesson from which many in today’s me-first squash generation
can learn a great deal.



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