A his­tory of squash

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page -

THE pre­vi­ous is­sue of Prime Life con­tained a brief ar­ti­cle on the demise of squash as a sport in Townsville.

Un­for­tu­nately, space lim­i­ta­tions meant that part of the ar­ti­cle con­cern­ing some of the peo­ple who con­trib­uted to the game, and ex­celled as play­ers, could not be in­cluded.

For­mer long-term squash player Kevin McCarthy said that as with any sport, much of the life and strength of the game of squash came from good en­er­getic ad­min­is­tra­tors who or­gan­ised fix­tures and tour­na­ments, and brought many elite play­ers to Townsville to play in open events.

Kevin said that al­though the num­ber of lo­cal squash play­ers had de­clined since the early 1990s, there re­mained a small group of keen skil­ful play­ers tak­ing part in the game.

We hope they will keep squash alive in Townsville un­til a new gen­er­a­tion comes along and dis­cov­ers what a mar­vel­lous sport it is, he said.

Kevin listed a num­ber of lo­cal for­mer greats in the sport who were not men­tioned in the pre­vi­ous ar­ti­cle.

Cam Jenk­ins won the first Townsville Squash cham­pi­onship in 1961, fol­lowed by John ODono­hue who won the ti­tle in 1962-3.

Brian (Tex) Win­ter took over the man­tle as Townsville num­ber one for a pe­riod of about seven years. Tex also ex­celled at ten­nis, and was si­mul­ta­ne­ously the Townsville cham­pion in both ten­nis and squash for three years. If this was not ex­cep­tional enough, he won both ti­tles on the same day in one year. He won the ten­nis cham­pi­onship on a Satur­day af­ter­noon, and the squash cham­pi­onship on the Satur­day night.

An­other player who ex­celled was Gra­ham Smith. Gra­ham won a Qeens­land Coun­try cham­pi­onship, and went on to op­er­ate squash courts for more than 20 years. All play­ers con­tacted from that era men­tioned the con­tri­bu­tion of Noel Craig, who was the orig­i­nal op­er­a­tor of the North Ward cen­tre, and later Wests.

Tex Win­ter re­calls Noel as tire­less and most gen­er­ous in the work he did with ju­niors, and in pro­mot­ing the sport.

Tex also re­gards Gra­ham Smith as hav­ing con­trib­uted greatly to the de­vel­op­ment of Ju­niors in his time at Wests and Kirwan.

Play­ers who have ex­celled in more re­cent times have been Austin Adar­raga Sr, who won the World Masters Over 50 cham­pi­onship in the 1980s, and also won the Townsville cham­pi­onship twice, his son Austin Adar­raga Jr, who was a world ranked player, and John White, a cur­rent world ranked player who rep­re­sents Scot­land. Th­ese are some of the high achiev­ing men of the last 45 years.

Achieve­ment was not con­fined to males. The in­au­gu­ral Townsville Open ladies cham­pion was Jean Withers (Macks), who won the ti­tle twice. Other early ladies cham­pi­ons were Elva Haines (Stevens) and Pat Jes­sup. The most dom­i­nant fe­male in our squash his­tory was Mar­garet James, who was cham­pion a num­ber of times in the late 70s and early 80s. An­other mul­ti­ple ti­tle win­ner was Jan Warneke, who played most of her squash in the 80s. Shirley Smith was dom­i­nant in her time. Shirley played strong fore­hands on ei­ther side of the court, af­ter the style of Austin Adar­raga Sr. Lyn White, and the two Pa­radeiser sis­ters, He­len and So­nia, also ex­celled in dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods.

LEG­END . . . sqaush player, pro­pri­eter and coach Gra­ham Smith

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