The 2015 Briggs Cup was the first in which both the men’s and women’s competitions were held concurrently, which turned out to be very fortunate for a pair each of men and women players, even though none of the four made it past the first round and one of them never even made it onto Apawamis’s doubles courts.  Although Nayelly Hernandez and her partner Joyce Davenport lost 3-0 in their first-round match with Quick/McElhinny and Chris Walker, who at the time lived in nearby Greenwich, was only at Apawamis as a spectator since he was rehabbing after having recently undergone a total-hip-replacement operation on his left leg, that year’s Briggs Cup proved to be a mutually memorable experience for both of them, since they first met during the tournament weekend and were married barely over a year later in February 2017, with a Mayan ceremony and full wedding celebration to follow in August 2018! Amazingly, James Stout and Tina Rix, both of whom, as noted, came up just short in close matches (in each case losing the respective close-out games 15-13), were introduced to each other by Suzie Pierrepont (Rix’s close friend from their childhood days growing up in England and also a good friend of Stout’s) during this Briggs Cup weekend as well, and by that summer they were engaged, with their wedding to follow in August 2017. Pierrepont proudly served as a maid-of-honor at the ceremony and gave a brief speech in which she recounted her role in introducing the newlyweds to each other just 17 months earlier at, of all places, a squash tournament.


The 2017 women’s Briggs Cup draw marked the triumphant return to tournament play of Amanda Sobhy, the only American to be ranked in the top 10 of the PSA professional singles tour, who had ruptured her left Achilles tendon nearly a year earlier while playing in an event in South America. She and her first-time partner Nikki Todd, a fleet young Canadian (and the 2016 Canadian National Doubles champion with Dana Betts), had to win two qualifying matches --- against a pair of sisters, namely former Trinity College team members Alexia and Andrea Echeverria and then Elani Landman and her twin sister Lume --- to make it into the eight-team main draw, whereupon, after a quarterfinal win over Stoker and Milanek, they scored an impressive three-game semifinal victory over former Briggs Cup champions Krizek (in 2008 with Demer Holleran) and Hewitt (in 2015 with Dana Betts). Their final-round opponents, also unseeded, were Rix and Rocha, who, paced by Rix’s torrid shot-making and Rocha’s error-free execution,  had eliminated No. 1 seeds Meredeth Quick and Suzie Pierrepont in their opening match and then bested Latasha Khan and Tehani Detter in a four-game semifinal.

The final was slightly delayed due to the pardonably late arrival of Rocha, who had hurried back to her home base in Boston after the Sunday evening semis so that she could take her citizenship exam (which she passed) at midday on Monday before then driving back to Rye that afternoon. Rocha, who was (and remains) an assistant pro at the University Club of Boston, actually played doubles squash early Monday morning with the club’s longtime head pro Chris Spahr as part of a playing lesson with two members before taking the exam. Once Rocha arrived back at Apawamis, she and Rix both played well, but Sobhy, exhilarated at being back in action again and feeling increasingly confident from one match to the next by how good her leg felt, and Todd played at too high a pace and had too much firepower and athleticism, enabling them to complete their five-match march through the draw without dropping a single game (although there were two close scores in the  15-13, 11 and 14 final), which made Sobhy and Todd the first team to do so since Mudge and Michael Pirnak had accomplished the feat in the inaugural Briggs Cup 14 years earlier in 2003. Sobhy and Todd also became the only team to win either the men’s or women’s Briggs Cup after first having to qualify their way into the main draw. Sobhy then regained the U. S. National Championship that she had won in 2015 and 2016 (as well as in 2012) but had been unable to defend in 2017. She is currently ranked in the top five in the world, was a semifinalist in 2022 in both the World Open (for the second straight time) and the British Open, and won the U. S. Nationals for the fifth time in June 2022, defeating her younger sister Sabrina in a close four-game final.

When asked years later to describe her mindset going into the 2017 Briggs Cup, Sobhy  responded that the outcome would have to take care of itself and that her main priority was to enjoy her return to tournament play and to have her leg get safely through its first official challenge in a match situation.  “I was definitely looking for a partner who I could have fun with and not take the tournament too seriously, could carry the team if need be, and had the speed to pick up a lot of balls since I was still not confident in my movement,” Sobhy wrote. “Nikki was the first person to pop into my head as a great partner because she is super fast, knows doubles, has fun regardless of the score, and I knew I could trust her if I was not at my best level. The Briggs Cup was my first competitive tournament back from my Achilles injury, so I was definitely feeling my way back into the tournament. We had a blast playing together and our partnership was perfect. I had the shots and she had the speed, and we both had so much fun playing together. There was one rally (I can’t remember which round) where I was standing in the mid-court and Nikki had just retrieved a ball from the back of the court. Our opponents hit the next shot in the front and Nikki told me “GO!” since I was way closer. And I just responded, “No, You Go!” And she was like, ‘Okay’ and went and retrieved that ball and got it! With each match, I got more and more comfortable with my movement, so I was at least getting a bit more balls and feeling more confident. But Nikki was a rock-star partner in that event and after that we teamed up in Los Angeles as well.” Sobhy’s latter reference was to the 2018 LA Open ten months after the 2017 Briggs Cup, where she and Todd out-lasted Pierrepont and Quick in an exciting and close five-game final.


The 2005 Briggs Cup proved to be an especially memorable experience for David Kay --- who at the time was midway through his second and last season as the head coach of the men’s squash team at the University of Rochester --- for reasons that extended far beyond his and Chris Walker’s praiseworthy comeback win over a Horler/Pirnak pairing that had reached the final round of the Big Apple Open only a few months earlier. During the event, while hanging out between matches, he had what proved to be a life-changing conversation with Tim Wyant, who at the time was the Executive Director of CitySquash, and who spoke about his experience in that capacity with so much excitement and enthusiasm that it motivated Kay himself to apply for the Executive Director position at MetroSquash, a newly forming counterpart to CitySquash in Chicago that Kay continues to head to this day as of this September 2022 writing --- 17 years and counting that Kay has held this important position at the first organization of this kind to have not been located on the northeastern corridor, thereby setting an example that a host of other similar urban-squash organizations would follow in subsequent years. Although Walker was not part of the conversation that took place in the Apawamis doubles court gallery between Kay and Wyant, he was similarly inspired by the CitySquash aspect of the Briggs Cup event, to the point where he played an active role in the establishment of Surf City, a San Diego-based counterpart organization that later renamed itself Access Youth Academy, in 2006, on behalf of which Walker served as a Board member and goodwill ambassador for more than a decade thereafter.

This was not the only time that an informal exchange associated with a squash tournament directly led to the formation of an urban squash program --- during the summer of 1997, when Greg Zaff, the founder of the original such organization, SquashBusters in Boston (which began operations in Autumn 1996), was serving as the head coach of the American squash team entry in the quadrennial Maccabi Games in Israel (having previously been a player on the U.S. squad in 1989), he spoke so often and with such fervor about how well the first year had gone that it inspired George Polsky, a team member who had played on Harvard’s national-championship teams during the early 1990’s, to found StreetSquash, a counterpart program in New York for which Polsky has held the Executive Director position ever since it opened in 1999.