Hughes Marks Comeback with Thirteenth Masters Title; Four New Champions Crowned

Dominic Hughes points to the back wall nick where his match ball nestled

One year after a knee replacement, Dominic Hughes returned to the U.S. Masters Championships presented by Penn Medicine to claim his thirteenth title–including one in every age group from 35+ to 60+–while four new Masters champions were crowned Sunday, April 2, at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia.

The 111th National Singles featured 172 players representing twenty-four states and Washington, DC, in age divisions ranging from 35+ to 85+. Watch match replays on the US Squash Youtube Channel. View all results on the U.S. Masters tournament page. Tournament photography is available on the US Squash Smugmug Page.

The twenty-four states represented include Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. As in past Masters, the tournament also featured international contingents from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean islands, England and South Africa.

Embodying the notion that squash is a sport for life, ninety-one-year-old Phil Leis from Rhode Island and eighty-eight-year-old Charles Gunn from Potomac, Maryland contested the men’s 85+ match. Leis took the match in three games.

Entering the 60+ division for the first time, Hughes defeated Barbados’ top seed and two-time defending champion Mark Sealy in a three-game final.

“It’s a relief to be back after my knee replacement last year so I just feel a sense of relief more than anything else,” Hughes said. “Mark’s a great competitor, very happy to beat him. He plays on the world masters circuit and I’m very happy to say I can beat him again. I enjoy playing him, he’s such a great competitor and it’s always a challenge, I was very happy to win that last point. It was a really fun weekend, I’m really happy to see there are more Masters events on the agenda worldwide and I look forward to playing in more of them.”

The Masters was a family affair with two father and son pairings competing in the 65+ and 35+ divisions. Pittsburgh’s Steven Baicker-McKee earned his second career Masters title in the 65+ division with a three-game win over New York’s Bruce Gordon. Had the other semifinal had a different result, Baicker-McKee could have faced Thomas Bedore in the final. 35+ finalist Patrick Bedore faced Steven Baicker-McKee in the quarterfinals.

“I’ve been playing Masters for fifteen years or so and this is my second title and it feels great to win another,” Steven Baicker-McKee said. “I just turned sixty-five this year and there are some really good players a year or two younger than I am so I felt like I had to seize this opportunity. It was really special to have my son play this year as well. There was almost a scenario where my son played Patrick Bedore and had the other semifinal draw gone the other way I would have played his Dad which is pretty neat. It’s been a fantastic weekend, this is such a great tournament and such a great facility it’s really wonderful to be here.”

Leslie Cameron celebrates her first Masters title

Wisconsin’s Leslie Cameron won her first national title in the women’s 55+ division without dropping a game.

“I’m so excited to win my first national title, I’ve been playing in the masters for ten years and squash for over thirty years,” Cameron said. “It’s amazing to win, but I wish there were more women here. Some of our toughest competitors weren’t here this year and it would have been nice to have a bigger draw. But still that doesn’t take away from how good this feels. The nerves really got to me as the top seed which was challenging, so getting over that was hard. To all of the women’s masters players, come out and play next year! It’s so much fun and it’s a great tournament and great camaraderie. We just need more women out here.”

While some of the women’s age divisions featured strong fields of competitors, several of the younger age divisions were unfortunately not held. US Squash has identified this as an important area of focus as part of the Women & Girls Initiative, and expects to see strong momemtum for women’s masters play build in the coming years.

Baltimore’s Susan Lawrence earned her fourth Masters title and first in the 60+ division. Lawrence didn’t drop a game all tournament, defeating Carole Grunberg in a three-game final. Grunberg earned top honors in the 65+ division, topping the three person round robin without dropping a game.

Canada’s Gerry Poulton earned his seventh Masters and first in the 80+ division, defeating defending champion James Zug, Sr. in a four-game final.

Salt Lake City’s Norbert Kornyei successfully defended his 75+ title with a five-game comeback final against Washington, DC’s Bruce Simons-Morton.

Canada produced two first first-time champions. Competing in his second U.S. masters, men’s 70+ two seed Gabriel Dubois earned his first title with a four-game final win against New York’s Raymond Pepi. Men’s 55+ two seed David Sly upset top seed Jamie Crombie in a four-game final.

Men’s 50+ top seeds Richard Chin and John Musto reignited their Masters rivalry with Chin edging Musto in a three-game final to collect his sixth overall and second straight title.

Richmond’s Patrick Chifunda earned his second Masters title and first in the 45+ division without dropping a game, defeating Maryland’s Shai Ingeber in the final.

Wayne, Pennsylvania’s Karamatullah Khan earned his second straight and third overall Masters title, edging Seattle’s Andrew Balme in the final 11-9 in the fifth game.

Men’s 35+ two seed Ashraf Yassin marked his Masters debut with his first title, storming to the 35+ title without dropping a game.