Team USA and Team Canada gathered on the racquets court at the Racquet Club of Chicago. (image: Marc Harris)

Team USA earned the Crawford Cup for women’s singles and doubles and Grant Trophy for men’s doubles in the ninety-seventh Lapham Grant Matches, April 19-22, at the Onwentsia Club, University Club of Chicago, Racquet Club of Chicago and the Casino Club in Illinois.

The Lapham-Grant Matches consists of four dual matches—men’s singles competing for the Lapham Cup, men’s doubles competing for the Grant Trophy, women’s combined singles and doubles competing for the Crawford Cup, and legend’s singles and doubles, men’s players over 65 years of age, competing for the Lawrence-Wilkins Trophy. More then two hundred players competed in the various competitions.

Danny Dolan, a Chicago local, Host Committee Co-Chair and Laphan Grant captain, lauded the Chicago squash community for its efforts in hosting the windy city’s first Lapham Grant Matches in the tournament’s ninety-seventh year.

“Peter Dunne and I have previously hosted U.S. National Doubles, World Doubles and a few other tournaments,” Dolan said. “It seems to me that over all the years the squash community loves Chicago. I heard from many participants about how friendly people are and how clean the city is. Thus, it was wonderful to be the host city. The tournament atmosphere was fantastic due to a few very tight competitions in the Grant and Lawrence-Wilkins. Also, I felt the camaraderie was at a high level. At the social events, there was much interaction between the teams. At the seated dinner dance, the tables were generally half Canadians and half Americans. Of course, there was a lot of interaction at the post social activities around the city!”

Team USA’s largest margin of victory came in the Crawford Cup matches that saw the Americans claim sixteen out of twenty-two singles matches, and eleven out of twenty-three doubles matches for a final score of 27-17. The result marks the third consecutive Crawford Cup title on U.S. soil for Team USA.

“The overall score of the Crawford Cup does not reflect how tight a number of matches played over the weekend were,” said Elise O’Connell, Crawford Cup Co-Captain. “The Crawford Cup approach is to pair players of varying ages and skill levels for maximum excitement and it certainly worked. We are thrilled to have brought the Cup back to the USA! I think we need to invent the ladies equivalent of the Lawrence Wilkins so I can continue playing in this tournament for as long as possible.”

The Americans celebrated more success in the Grant Trophy men’s doubles matches, winning back to back Grant Trophies for the first time since 2011 and 2012. The results were close, however, as just three matches separated the final score of 17-14.

The closest score came in the Lawrence-Wilkins Trophy competition. For the first time in tournament history, the final result was a tie. Canada swept the four singles matches, but the U.S. leveled the score by taking thirteen out of twenty-two doubles matches for a final score of 13-13.

Canada’s sole victory came in the Lapham Cup as the Canadian’s took eighteen out of the twenty-eight men’s singles matches.

“I thought that the United States team has performed admirably across the board,” Dolan said. “Elise O’Connell and Laura Stuto put together a great Crawford team that dominated the Canadian team. It was great to see the Crawford team plays so well. Congratulations to Elise and Laura. The Lapham Grant team split the singles and doubles, with the US coming back from a five match deficit Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. It was a great comeback with the U.S. winning the last seven of eight or nine matches. The Lawrence Wilkins was a tie, so we know the competition was quite good. There was a Lawrence-Wilkins match on Saturday afternoon where the combined age of the group was 314 years, which is amazing.”

“Camaraderie is what the tournament is all about,” O’Connell said. “The best friendships are made on court and it’s great to see how, after a few rounds of matches, Friday’s shyness melts away into everyone joining one big dance party on Saturday night.”

The Lapham Cup matches date back to 1922 and are believed to be one of the oldest amateur sporting events between two countries, having been played for 90 consecutive years. The Grant Trophy matches were inaugurated in 1945, the Crawford Trophy matches in 1999, and the Lawrence-Wilkins Trophy matches in 2001. These four events, held at the same time and venue, are hosted in alternate years by Canada and the United States. Starting in 2000, all singles matches have been played with the international ball.

It is a tradition that the captains cooperate to make sure that their teams are balanced, and that matches are played in an atmosphere of camaraderie, goodwill, and sportsmanship. Matches are not refereed, therefore the highest standards of fair play are essential among participants. The matches also provide an opportunity for representatives from both sides of the border to discuss squash development initiatives. This grand social event has many unique traditions, including the Friday evening Captains’ reception, roses for every lady attending the Saturday night banquet, a LG tie (or scarf) for every player participating in the event for the first time, and the Eric R. Finkelman Award for “questionable behaviour”.

The coveted Lapham Cup is valued at over $50,000 and is similar in size to hockey’s Stanley Cup. It was donated in 1922 by Henry B. Lapham of Brookline, Massachusetts, for an international Men’s singles team competition between the U.S.A. and Canada. The Grant Trophy was donated in late 1944 by Alastair Grant of Montreal for a similar Men’s doubles competition. The Crawford Trophy was donated in 1999 by William Crawford of Vancouver in honor of his wife Richenda, for Ladies singles and doubles team competition. In 2001, Edgar A. Bracht of Toronto presented the Lawrence-Wilkins Trophy for the Men’s “Legends” (over age 65) doubles team competition. It is named in honor of the truly legendary figures of Barney Lawrence of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario and C. Howard Wilkins Sr of Wichita, Kansas, both of whom did so much for the game, as players and builders.

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The 2019 Lapham Grant Matches will take place in Montreal, Canada.