When a golden age of Harvard supremacy on the squash courts came to an end with a Yale victory last year, Harry Cowles was not grief-stricken.
To the Crimson coach, who has nursed the game from its infancy in 1914 to a nation-wide pastime today, it was just a sign that squash is growing up, that the pupil is getting good enough to beat the master now and then.
Cowles got in on the ground floor when America's first squash courts were built at the Harvard Club of New York, where he had been playing squash tennis, nearly 25 years ago. In 1920 he came to Harvard, destined to coach 17 undefeated teams. His book, "The Art of Squash Racquets," is the standard manual of the game.
He points with pride to the fact that squash is now even penetrating warmer sections of the country, that with almost 400 players in the Houses it is probably Harvard's most popular sport. When the Cambridge University team meets the Crimson racquetmen on Thursday, March 24, intercollegiate squash will be on an international plane for the first time.
Cowles has seen all squash's greats, and coached most of them. "Comparisons are never satisfactory," he says, "particularly by a coach," but mentions Germaine Glidden's three-year victory in the nationals as one of the foremost feats in the history of the court game.
Already he is getting ready to step into his spring role as tennis coach. According to Cowles, the games are not at all incompatible. "Most of my best tennis players have also played squash," he said recently. "If a player is fundamentally sound in both games, squash will help his tennis."
He has great hopes for the game's future. "It's not the best competitive game; there are too many a player can crowd and push without actually breaking rules," he admits. But he hopes that this situation will be improved with the use of competent referees in future intercollegiate matches.