The 11th Annual US Century Doubles Championships—featuring 118 teams, concluded in New York City this weekend. It was one of the most special squash events of my 54-year squash career that has taken me all over the world for competitions, and where I have met and made friends with many fascinating people.
The conditions of the Century Doubles stipulated that the combined ages of each team must be 100 years or greater. The tournament was headquartered at the University Club of New York and co-hosted by the New York Athletic Club, the Union Club of New York, the Racquet & Tennis Club, and City View Racquet Club.
I learned to play the game at the Toronto Cricket Club 54 years ago, under the tutelage of my father Brian Caldwell. I thought it would be fun for the two of us to play in this event, as he continues to play squash and tennis doubles three or four times per week.
My father is 95 years old, and I am 65 years old, bringing our combined age to 160. Brian was the oldest player to ever play in this event.
We arrived at the University Club at 54th and 5th on Friday afternoon, January 27th. Our first match was at the Racquet and Tennis, at 53rd and Park Avenue where our division was playing. It is a landmark property in New York, and houses singles and doubles squash, two Royal Tennis courts, first started in the time of King Henry VIII. There is also a Hard Racquets court, which is slightly larger than a doubles squash court, slate walls. The equipment comprises a long racquet similar to the one used in regular squash and a ball that bounces like a golf ball. There are only 50 of each of these courts in the world.
On that Friday we had lunch and a tour at the Museum of Modern Art, the next block down from the University Club. It was fun seeing my father look at a specific painting that turned out to be from my old friend Frank Stella, whose art also hangs in the Adelaide Club. For dinner with my wife Lorna, we met my daughter Ashley and her partner Brian who both live and work in the city. We enjoyed a magnificent meal at the new Polo Bar.
Play started on Saturday for us, and in our category, one of the players has to be over 80. We lost 3 -0, but my father played extremely well, hitting many winning shots. He was remarkably agile around the court.
A fabulous dinner was held that night at the University Club. Kit Tatum, the tournament Chairman and founder, mentioned my father's involvement in the event, and how special it was to have him playing.
On Sunday morning we went down to another unfortunate defeat to a pair from Santa Fe. We were emotionally devastated by our loss, but quickly got over it with lunch at the Tavern on the Green in Central Park. Lorna and my father and I walked back to the University Club through Central Park on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.
What a magical weekend we had. Neither my father nor I will ever forget the experience that we shared. Who knows, perhaps we will make return trip next year. My father's health continues to hold up, and he reminds us all that staying active and fit pays huge long-term benefits for us all.