Bart Chambers was the Buffalo Tennis & Squash Club’s squash pro for many years. Last January he left the club to take a new job in Austin, Texas. The T & S undertook a world-wide search for a replacement.
Many resumes were reviewed from as far away as Egypt. After deliberating over many outstanding resumes the club unanimously decided on hiring John Rooney, a native Irishman, who was working as an assistant coach at Yale University.
“We were thrilled to get such an outstanding pro who was one of the top squash professionals in North America,” said Rick Infanti, the club’s manager.
Before coaching at Yale, Rooney was an outstanding player in Ireland. He was the Irish National Men’s Champion two years in a row (2009 and 2010), Junior National Irish Champion in three age groups, and captain of the Irish Senior National Squash Team. Rooney competed on the Professional Squash Association tour and rose to a world ranking of 52. At that time he decided to refocus and became heavily involved in teaching and coaching the game.
Junior squash was also developing in Belfast, Northern Ireland and in Manchester, United Kingdom. This was where Rooney brought his talents to the fore and hosted many squash camps and clinics for young players, who really didn’t have much of an opportunity to play squash.
His playing and teaching credentials were noted by many universities including Yale, where he became an assistant squash coach.
When Rooney got to Yale he sat down with head coach Dave Talbott and they worked out a training program that was similar to the one that Rooney had used on the pro squash tour.
“Players started to use more tactics on the court than they had before and we had squash practices twice a day,” Rooney said.
The team’s hard work paid off with one of the most illustrious squash wins in the history of Yale. Trinity College (Conn.) had won the National Collegiate Squash Championships 11 years in a row and had won more than 200 consecutive league matches when it met Yale last year. Yale won the match, 5-4, and was ranked No. 1 in the country for a short while.
In a match against Navy a short time later, two of its top players were seriously injured and were lost for the season. This ruined their championship aspirations and the team finished sixth in the National Championships. However, this did not take away from Rooney’s and the team’s remarkable achievements.
While teaching players at Yale, Rooney also worked with junior players in New Haven at Hopkins School, a private high school, and at the Englewood Field Club in New Jersey. After his resume was reviewed and the Buffalo Tennis & Squash Club had received glowing recommendations from Ireland, Yale, and facilities at which he taught, it knew it had an outstanding candidate and hired Rooney as its new professional squash instructor.
Rooney’s wife Theresa is a physical therapist and they have one child. He loves being in Buffalo and is thrilled at how he has been welcomed by the community and members of the T & S. He said, “One of my main goals at the T & S is the development of an outstanding junior program.”
Buffalo to host Can-Am
The Buffalo Tennis & Squash Club has been chosen as host of the Can-Am Doubles Squash Tournament next Friday through Sunday. The biannual event brings together the top male and female doubles players in a competition of teams representing Canada and the United States. The event is known as the “Ryder Cup” of doubles squash. The Canadian and American National Champions and the top-ranked teams in the Open division and in ages groups play over three days to determine the Can-Am Cup winner.
This year’s U.S. team is captained by Buffalonian Mike McGorry, and the co-captains are Len Bernheimer of Boston, Mollie Pierce of Philadelphia, and Les Belknap of Rye. They have chosen a team that is based upon the prior season’s rankings and U.S. National Doubles results. The men’s event (the Bernheimer/Bell Cup) is comprised of two teams in nine five-year age groups (Open to 75-over). The Gillen/Pierce Trophy, for which the women compete, has five age groups (Open to 55-over). The first team to attain 42½ points is awarded the Can-Am Cup.
“In the 2010 matches in Toronto, the outcome was not decided until the final match,” McGorry said.
Gordon Anderson and Jim O’Brien have been chosen for the Buffalo team. Match play starts Friday with the No. 1 teams from each country playing the other country’s No. 2 teams. Saturday’s matches pit the No. 1s and No. 2s against the other country’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams. On Sunday, in a format called the “Lightning Round”, teams are randomly picked to compete in one-game matches.
The McGorry Law Firm, LLP and Lynn Associates are sponsors of the event. Matches will be at the T & S Club, Computer Task Group, and Saturn Club. For information, call McGorry at 583-2073 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.