A history of squash
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