The Clark Spark: An Uncommon Duo

Squash's Marty and Stephanie Clark

Part two of a three-part series depicting the squash lives of Harvard squash siblings--the Greenhills, Clarks and Fraibergs

You can't compare Stephanie and Marty Clark to brother sister duo Hansel and Gretel--the Clarks are real.

You can't really compare the Clark sibling to Donnie and Marie Osmond, either. The Clarks aren't outdated--they're the here and now. And the Clarks don't sing silly song's--they play squash. They really play squash.

And you definitely can't compare the dynamic duo to Marsha and Greg Brady. Stephanie and Marty don't look and act like idiots. They are athletic, intelligent, funny and modest. The Clarks are normal.

That is, if you consider "church-hopping" every Sunday normal behaviour. And if you consider becoming two of America's top Squash players normal.


Come to think of it, perhaps the Clarks are beyond comparison.

Take Stephanie, the senior co-Captain of the Harvard women's team. Although the McLean, Va., native was a relative latecomer to the game at age 14, she was quickly able to transfer her extensive gymnastics accomplishments into squash achievements. A year later, she was one of the top 10 under-17 players in the nation, And by age 18, she was a top-seeded freshman on Harvard's varsity squad.

When Harvard lost a key player last January, Princeton and Yale suddenly became favorites to win the NCAA title Along with individual national champion Jenny Holleran, Stephanie took charge, patenting her personal ethic of hard, harder, hardest work. Harvard unexpectedly nabbed the championship.

"Stephanie is great at getting a team to work as a group," says Co-Captain Daphne Onderdonk. "I'd say her ability to do that is what helped us win last year."

Her younger brother Marty, a sophomore in Winthrop House, is no stranger to winning, either. At the tender age of eight, his mother--herself a squash and tennis player--found him a squash coach. When the natural athlete turned 11, he entered and won his first tournament. Within a year, he had attained a national ranking of third for the 14-and-under category (and he was Virginia's top-ranked tennis player). When he was 16, he was number one. When he was 17, he was number one. When he was 18, he was number one. and last year, he was the number-one player on the U.S. national team that achieved its best finish ever.

"They're unusual kids," Mr. Clark says. "When all the other kids around were drinking milkshakes, sodas and watching videos, Marty and Stephanie were out on the courts beating the crap out of each other."

On the topic of squash, the two are modest. A dentist might say that getting either to discuss squash achievements is like teeth. But when it comes to each other, Stephanie and Marty have plenty to say.

"Besides being a really good friend of mine, Mary has taught me everything I know about squash," Stephanie says. "If I had no other coach except Marty, I'd probably be just as good, or better."

Marry doesn't attribute everything he knows about squash to his sister. But he does cite her as his top reason for attending Harvard.

"Steph is my biggest fan. I'm hers. I like that," he says.

Although the to are separated by the great expanse of treacherous territory between Currier House and Winthrop, they still manage to see each other every day. On vacations, the two can be seen running at 6 a.m. together. More frequently, you'll catch them on a court, Marty playing what Coach Steve Piltch calls "a more flamboyant game" Stephanie tallying points by tenacity alone.

The common past and present the uncommon siblings share may become a common destiny. While Stephanie aspires to begin international competition next year, both have visions of the '96 Olympics--which may be the first Games to feature squash--dancing in their heads.

"I'd love to make it there," Stephanie said.

"Me too," her little brother echoes.

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