Over the coming weeks, we’re giving you the chance to decide the greatest players in squash history as we take a look at the achievements and legacy of some of the most recognised names ever to take to a squash court.
This week we have been looking at some of the outstanding squash players to have graced the courts before 1960 in part one of our public vote.
Each day we’ll highlight the feats of different players to have competed during the era before asking you to determine the top players of that era in a public vote at the end of the week.
Find the other parts here.
Tournament of Champions Wins: 4
Jack Summers was the first winner of the iconic Tournament of Champions and went on to capture the title an impressive four times throughout the 1930s.
Summers claimed the inaugural Tournament of Champions title in 1930 when the tournament took place in Boston and then captured the title again in 1931 and 1932 in Boston and Philadelphia, respectively.
John Silkman interrupted Summers’ reign of wins to take the crown in 1933 before Summers fought back to retain his title in 1934.
Summers legacy in the sport extends beyond his Tournament of Champions victories as he founded the International Squash Professionals Association in 1925, which in 1993 merged with the World Professional Squash Association to form the Professional Squash Association (PSA) as it’s known today.
U.S. Open Title Wins: 2
U.S. Open Final Defeats: 0
Hashim Khan (left) and Diehl Mateer (right)
George Diehl Mateer was one of the leading squash players in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s.
Six foot one, heavily muscled with curly blonde locks, Mateer was the standard bearer of mid-century squash.
As a younger boy, Mateer was also noted for his tennis and was a Haveford College tennis team leader and member of a graduating class that accumulated four successive Middle Atlantic League championships and a four-year record.
Fitz Dixon, a teacher at Episcopal Academy, had noticed Mateer’s talent in his first tournament and got him a scholarship, starting in tenth grade which led to his immersion in squash which led to everything.
Mateer was a natural athlete with sweeping, powerful strokes but he worked hard at his squash game and was fiercely competitive.
He is the only amateur player to have won two U.S. Open titles (in 1955 and 1959). He also won three U.S. National Singles titles between 1954 and 1960 and a record 11 US National Doubles titles between 1949 and 1966.
He was also runner-up at the US National Doubles Championship on nine further occasions (three of those times with his son Gil – his sons Gil and Drew won five national titles in all, including one together in 1986).
He is well known for twice beating two Khans on a single day, including in the 1959 U.S. Open in Pittsburgh in the semis (Roshan) and finals (Hashim), this after defeating two other international pro legends, Doug McLaggan and Dardir El Bakary in earlier rounds.
As a result of his impressive career, Mateer was inducted into nearly every possible Hall of Fame, including the United States Squash Rackets Association Hall of Fame in 2000. He is also a member of the US Intercollegiate Hall of Fame, the Episcopal Academy Hall of Fame, the Maryland Squash Hall of Fame and the Haveford College Glasser Hall of Achievement.
As well as being a squash player, Mateer was also noted for his tennis ability. In tennis, Mateer reached the second round of the 1951 US National Championships and lost in the first round in 1948.
Mateer died in September 2012 at the age of 84 from heart failure. Doctors discovered in the autopsy that Mateer’s heart was much smaller than expected and they said it was amazing that with a heart that size he played squash at all, let alone at national level.
At his funeral, Gil Mateer said: “If there isn’t a squash court in heaven, there will be now.”