Rice and Tanfield Claim Maiden Hardball Singles National Titles; Smith Repeats

75+ finalist Jon McBride (l) and champion Richard Tanfield

The 2019 U.S. Squash Hardball Singles Championships took place at the Harvard Club, February 22-24, in New York City.

Twenty-six players competed across five age divisions and men’s and women’s Open divisions.

Two first-time national champions were crowned in the form of Annapolis’ Doug Rice and Philadelphia’s Richard Tanfield.

60+ finalist Gary Yeager and champion Doug Rice

Rice, a former 45+ national champion, returned to nationals reinvigorated with his “love of hardball singles” in the 60+ division. After topping his pool play against Paul Chan and Jerry Howe, Rice defeated former 60+ champion Gary Yeager in five-game final after topping his pool.

Hardball stalwart Tefft Smith earned his third consecutive 70+ national title. The closely-contested pool saw Eric Berger place second with three wins and one loss against Smith, while Smith earned his decisive victory 18-16 in the fifth against New York City’s Charles Kimball.

In the 75+ final, Tanfield followed up a five-game, 17-15 in the fifth semifinal victory by defeating Maryland’s Jon McBride in a close three-game final, 15-13, 15-13, 17-15.

Two admirable players competed in the 80+ match, exemplifying lifelong, positive engagement in squash. Andrew Packard, 83, defeated Hoyt Spellman, 89, in three games.

The men’s and women’s Open division offered $1,000 and $500 to the winner and runners up, respectively. Australian Commonwealth Games doubles gold medalist Zac Alexander defeated five-time Open finalist Hamed Anvari 15-11, 15-10, 15-13. The women’s final had Drexel roots between former women’s coach and defending champion Kelsey Engman, and graduate Mary Fung-A-Fat. Engman successfully defended her title 15-10, 15-9, 15-11.

During the Saturday night festivities, Cleveland’s Rick Taft was honored with the Charlie Baker Award for outstanding contributions to the game of hardball singles.

The Hardball Singles were first held in 1907.

View all results here.