One of Harvard's greatest squash teams and one of Harvard's greatest players head for Detroit today and the U.S. Squash Racquets Association amateur national championships--perhaps to bring back both the team and singles titles for the first time since 1925.
Winning the team crown will be the hardest. Harvard is the only collegiate squad at the nationals, and the Crimson's Bill Morris, Lou Williams, Paul Sullivan, Doug Walter, and captain Roger Wiegand face a strong Toronto team in the first round. If the Harvard five win, they will battle an equally rough group from Detroit in round two. Philadelphia is the favorite.
The phenomenal Vic Niederhoffer, however, has a better chance to snatch the singles title away from a host of former champions and challengers. Niederhoffer has a bye in the first round, and will meet Bob Hetherington, Yale's number two player, Friday afternoon. Hetherington was runner-up behind teammate Ralph Howe in the intercollegiates last year, while Niederhoffer ranked only fifth; but the Harvard junior should have no trouble winning this time.
Zug Against Howe
In the third round, Niederhoffer will face the winner of a match between Jim Zug, the Princeton great now at the Harvard Business School, and Sam Howe. Niederhoffer beat Zug in the Massachusetts A League championships and Howe in the Harry Cowles Tournament this year, so he has an excellent chance of reaching the quarter-finals at the very least.
But one man threatens to stop Niederhoffer--Henri Salaun. Salaun is on the other side of the draw from Niederhoffer, so the two will clash dramatically late in the tournament. National champion four times--more than any other player--Salaun beat the Harvard junior 3-1 in their only encounter this year, at the Middlesex Bowl tournament in December. But since then Niederhoffer, in the Massachusetts competition, beat Zug shortly after the Princeton graduate had upset Salaun, indicating that the Salaun-Niederhoffer match should be fantastic.
Other Top Players
Other top players in the national singles include Ben Heckscher, the 1958 winner, whom Niederhoffer has twice beaten this year; Charles Ufford '53, who lost to Harry Conlon in the semi-finals of the Cowles tournament; Conlon, former national titleholder, who was defeated 3-1 by Niederhoffer in the Cowles tourney; and Diehl Mateer, three-time national champ.
The last dual win for Harvard came in 1925, when Palmer Dixon took the singles crown. It was through Dixon's generosity that the team can travel to Detroit this year.
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