Winner of the first women’s nationals and the early leader of the national women’s squash association, Miss Eleo Sears was considered the founding matriarch of U.S. squash. She came from the bluest of Boston bloodlines and was known as the “Society Bachelor Girl, ” but it was her renowned athletic prowess that gave her headlines. She loved pedestrianism and regularly walked the forty miles from Boston to Providence, she was one of the first female aviators and in 1909 broke fashion barriers by being the first woman to play polo in riding breeches and astride a horse. With her racquet genes -her uncle was Dick Sears, winner of seven straight U.S. tennis nationals – Sears won four U.S. tennis women’s doubles titles and one mixed doubles. Yet Sears’ trailblazing reached an apotheosis on the squash court. Sears helped secure playing privileges for women at the Union Boat Club and the Harvard Club in Boston and helped to organize the first women’s tournament at the Union Boat in 1926. Two years later at Round Hill Club in Greenwich, CT, Sears, at the age of thirty-seven, won the first-ever women’s national singles tournament. With what John Reynolds, the Harvard Club professional, described as “a particularly strong backhand, ” Sears also won the Massachusetts state title in 1928, 1929, 1930 and, forty-seven years-old, in 1938. She captained the U.S. team in the Wolfe-Noel Cup matches against England in 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1937. Her greatest contribution was founding the U.S. Women’s Squash Racquets Association, on which she served as vice-president in its first year and then as president from 1933-1947, the longest tenure of any president in its history.
National Champion 1928