The 2021 U.S. National Squash Championships culminated with three dramatic five game finals won by James Zug, Sr. (80+), Gerald Poulton (75+) and Chris Walker (50+), while four new national singles champions were crowned Sunday, October 24, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.
The 109th edition of the National Singles–rescheduled from its traditional spring date–fielded nine age divisions with more than 100 players.
Exemplifying the notion that squash is a sport for life, five players entered the 80+ division. The final came down to Atlanta’s Michael Gough–the tournament’s oldest player at eighty-two years old, a world masters champion and defending 80+ champion–and eighty-one-year-old James Zug, Sr. from Wilmington. Zug, who has won more than twenty national titles in doubles and hardball singles, captured his first National Singles title of the softball era 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6 in forty minutes.
“I’m in shape and I lucked out,” Zug said. “Michael is much more experienced. He won a lot of points knowing how to make it easy and risk free. I was out there taking chances and I think I just happened to have a few more of those chances go my way, and other than that it was absolute even. He’s a great sport, moves so well and had some great gets. I’m glad five guys showed up in the 80+, we were all about even. We all love the game and came down and had a great time together, all nice guys and it was fun to play them. Thanks to US Squash for hosting such a great event.”
In the 50+ final, Walker–the former world No. 4–outlasted defending champion John Musto of New York City to claim his first National Singles title 11-8, 11-7, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7 in forty minutes.
“There are so many great players in this event and particularly in this draw,” Walker said. “When you get to this age, I feel like my body has already gone through a lot and maybe some of the other guys may be more physically able to keep the pace up and run around, so I was wary to try to consolidate points and close out rallies. Happy to get the win, it was a tough final and draw–I dropped games in every round–and it was fun playing at the Specter Center. There’s a great squash community in this country and that’s what first sucked me over here from England twenty years ago and has kept me here since, and this event is a great reflection of that community.”
Canada celebrated two titles courtesy of Gerald Poulton and Steven Jacobs. Poulton captured his seventh National Singles title and second in the 75+ division, holding off a five-game comeback from Norbert Kornyei 11-5, 11-8, 8-11, 8-11, 11-4. Jacobs won his second National Singles title and first in the 70+ division, defeating Georgia’s Michael Kilgallon in a three-game final .
New York City’s Kip Gould, who has won multiple National Doubles titles, celebrated his first National Singles title with a four-game 65+ final win over four-time champion Thomas Bedore.
Four champions completed perfect title runs without dropping a game all tournament. Barbados’ Mark Sealy fulfilled his top seeding in the 60+ division defeating San Francisco’s Tony Brettkelly in the final. Cincinnati produced two perfect title runs. Jamie Crombie dethroned two-time 55+ champion Dominic Hughes to win his third National Singles title, and Nathan Dugan won his second straight National Singles title and first in the 45+ division with a final win against New York City’s Stephen Pierson. Atlanta’s Ahmed Hamza won his first National Singles title, topping the 40+ pool with Massachussetts’ Mike Semprucci placing second.
The National Singles returns to its traditional spring staging next year with the 2022 U.S. Squash Championships set to take place at the Specter Center, April 1-3.
View tournament photography on the US Squash Smugmug Page.
View all results on the 2021 U.S. National Squash Championships Club Locker page. Watch replays of all matches on the US Squash Youtube Channel.