The 13th running of the MFS SquashBusters Derby in Boston over the first weekend in May established several new benchmarks for the urban squash program’s most important event of the year. Foremost was a record-setting fundraising total of $1.47 million, generated by more than 100 amateur player/fundraisers and major corporate support from lead Title sponsor MFS Investments, Diamond sponsor Westfield Capital Management and Gold sponsors Brown Brothers Harriman, Loomis, Sayles, & Co., Intercontinental Real Estate and William O’Neil + Co.
The Derby also ushered in a new champion as the retirement of perennial champ Wallbanger opened the gates for captain Tucker Hamlin’s True Blue to take the 2019 title. Anchored in doubles by past captains Jamie Fagan and Ming Tsai, the rest of the doubles squad included Jesse Lane, Pete McIntire, David Hall, Joe Hegenbart, SquashBusters Executive Director (and double hipster) Greg Zaff and pro Mike Ferreira. True Blue’s singles roster included Hamlin, Guy Davidson, Greg Ho, Cameron Rahbar, Todd Manley and Todd Bourell, but it was Wael El Hindi who truly earned the roses for True Blue as the charismatic Egyptian star devastated the hopes and dreams of newcomers Bob’s Cats in the Derby final by slotting an overhead nick on Todd Harrity, fellow elite pro and leader of the all-Princeton team, to win the match 15-14.
While the on court theatrics were world class, especially with elite stars David Palmer, Campbell Grayson, Clinton Leeuw, Nick Taylor, Amanda and Sabrina Sobhy, Timmy Brownell, Mike Ferreira, Yvain Badan, Jeff Stanley, Gary Waite, Chris Walker, John Roberts and Mark Talbott all joining in, the effort of some individual fundraisers was out of this world. Founding Derby Chairman and ex-Wallbanger Captain Amrit Kanwal took home the Secretariat Award for top fundraiser with a total over $100,000. Jamie Fagan was close behind at $75,000, while Will Muggia, Dave Drubner, Sandy Tierney and George Bell all topped $50,000.
But the real stars of the 2019 Derby were SquashBusters seniors Josiah Bennett and Gerardo Garcia who concluded the Saturday evening speaking program at SquashBusters on the campus of Northeastern University with a powerful set of remarks, trading the podium back and forth as they movingly and humorously relayed their personal stories and the impact of the SquashBusters program to the packed audience.
Special thanks goes to the University Club of Boston for hosting two highly festive days of doubles, Jeannie Blasberg and Dave Drubner as Co-Chairs, John Nimick as Derby Host and development committee member, all the SquashBusters students who played, Simone Winston for once again organizing a successful Junior Stakes segment, Nick Taylor of INFINITUM Squash for organizing the on court component of the Junior Stakes, Ming Tsai for delivering a tasty treat from Blue Dragon for the party on Friday night, and Michael Schlow and Tico for some killer margaritas and tacos at the party on Saturday night.
Thank you to Marliyn Humphries for her excellent photos of the Derby on Friday and Saturday and John Gillooly for his photos of the Junior Stakes on Saturday morning. To see more photos of the events, please visit our Derby and Junior Stakes Flickr albums.