Saturday March 23, 2013

BRATTLEBORO -- Brattleboro’s recent squash tournament is one contest that will go down in history, as Brattleboro RacquetSports hosted 38 players at their fourth annual Invitational Squash Tournament on March 9-10.

Players ranging from 11-66 years old and hailing from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut played a total of 54 US squash-sanctioned matches on RacquetSport’s two International squash courts.

Play was divided over five different skill levels with the 5.0 draw being the most skilled. Each match consists of the best of five games played to 11 points (must win by two points).

Squash is a demanding game that pushes a player to his or her physical limits. Once a player wins two of the three games required to close out a match he has his fingers crossed that his opponent does not win any more games and push the match to the exciting, but dreaded fifth game.

This year saw a record 16 matches go to the limit. The 2.5 draw on Saturday had the most drama of the weekend when the eventual champion, 15-year old Lynden Bunker, of Brattleboro, rolled his ankle in the first game of his match with 11-year old Emma Supattapone, of Hanover, N.H. After a two minute injury time-out to "walk it off" he continued.

Bunker eventually won the match by default. With the score tied 10-10 in the fifth and deciding game, Supattapone, pushed to her physical limits, experienced asthma breathing problems and had to retire. That set up a repeat of last year’s 2.5 finals - Bunker vs. Judy Rees, of Hanover, NH.

A year ago Rees came out on top, but this year, after yet another grueling 5-game match, Bunker hoisted the championship plaque.

In the 3.0 draw, Norm Duquette, of Wilmington, defeated Rob Sudduth, of Marion, MA, in another 5-game final. Fatigue may have played a role, as Sudduth had to survive an earlier 5-game match over James Perkins, of Hopkinton, NH., to make it to the finals.

The 3.5 draw saw Mark Manley from Brattleboro, come out on top over Brock Christensen, of Hanover, NH. Manley needed "only" four games to be put in the enviable position of having to choose between Grafton Cheese, Champlain Chocolate and Putney’s Hidden Springs maple syrup for the champion’s prize.

To get to the final of the 3.5 draw Manley was pushed to the five game limit by Sam Supattapone, Emma Supattapone’s 13-year old brother.

On Sunday the "big boys" played. The 4.0 draw had four matches go the limit, but champion Caldwell Perkins, of Salisbury, CT, never needed more than four games to win his three matches, beating Kamram Mohiuddin, of

Allston, MA, in the finals. Chris Storm from Boston, MA took the consolation championship over 66-year old Allen Davis from Dublin, NH, in five games.

The 5.0 draw featured the premier players. These matches saw crisp play and long rallies. Spectators watched in awe as the players shed calories and sweat like water off a duck’s back. Both Gary Gargan, assistant pro at Natick, MA’s Cross Courts, and Tarit Rao-Chakravorti, of Brookline, MA, had to survive earlier 5-game slugfests to get the honor of playing in the biggest championship match of the weekend. Gargan, wanting to avenge his 4-game loss in the finals last year, came close to his goal, but fell short in the weekend’s third 5-game final.

Rao-Chakravorti chose cheese and chocolate for the champion’s prize and said he was already looking forward to defending his title in 2014.

Once again, Bruegger’s and Grafton Cheese generously donated bagels and cheese to compliment the food provided to players and spectators.