Hey Spike! takes on 75-year-old who squashes the competition
Special to the Daily
Earning well-deserved time in the “Hey, Spike!” spotlight is 75-year-old Bart McGuire, who stacks up national titles like cords of wood in the not-everyday-sport of squash doubles.
Public relations specialist Robin Rothman brought Bart to my attention after he and his partner won the U.S. and Canadian national titles. In early March, Bart and his newest partner, Lenny Bernheimer, from Natick, Massachusetts, won the U.S. Nationals in the 75-plus age group. Following that, they conquered the Canadian Nationals.
“In a statistical oddity, Bart has now won six U.S. and six Canadian national titles in six different age groups with six different partners,” Robin offers.
A resident of Frisco for four years now, Bart and wife Cindy hosted a family vacation at Keystone Resort before deciding to make a home in the mountains.
Cindy had skied Keystone when she lived in Colorado in the early 1980s. She loved Colorado and the mountains, and her passion was contagious, Bart admits.
For the couple’s 25th anniversary in 2009, they invited all of their four children and 11 grandchildren for a few days in Keystone.
“The next year, we rented a one-bedroom apartment in Keystone, and soon bought one as a second home. In 2013, we decided to make Summit County our primary residence and bought a house in Frisco — best decision we ever made,” he says.
A retired attorney, Bart volunteers on The Peak School board. Cindy was an IT professional.
“Winning with so many different partners has been especially rewarding,” Bart says. “The Peak School emphasizes teamwork. An important part of any team activity — in sports and everything else in life — is to work with your teammates and bring out the best in them. As a new team, Lenny and I had fun doing that.”
Squash is played on a walled-court much like racquetball or handball, but with a 17-inch strip of metal — called the “tin” — at the bottom of the front wall that functions like a tennis net.
With facilities lacking up here, Bart heads over to Vail to keep his skills at a competitive level. However, the closest doubles courts are at the Denver Athletic Club, which hosted the U.S. Nationals this year.
Bart’s first national title came in 1982 when he won the 40-plus age group at the Canadian National Doubles Championships in Toronto. He was 40 years old.
“Before then, and for about 15 years afterward, I couldn’t compete very seriously because of a heavy workload at my law firm — Davis Polk and Wardwell in New York,” he notes.
After resigning from the firm, Bart won another Canadian National Championship in the 55-plus age group. Then he spent four years — get ready for this — as CEO of the worldwide women’s professional tennis tour. (There will be more on this job a bit later.)
Bart won his first U.S. title in 2003, at the 60-plus U.S. National Doubles in Chicago at age 62. Since then, he’s won both U.S. and Canadian national championships in the 65-plus, 70-plus and 75-plus age groups. He and his six partners literally “squash” competition.
“Even though most of the teams we played this year included former national champions, Lenny and I won every match easily, by scores of three games to none. Lenny is a very strong player, we teamed up really well, and we were both 75 — among the ‘youngest’ players in our age group,” he details.
In prior years, the matches haven’t always been so easy, Bart says. Several championship matches went the distance, three games to two.
“The closest was my first U.S. title, where the score was 18-17 in the fifth game,” he recalls. “My partner hit a clean winner on the tie-break championship point.”
Bart has fostered a passion for squash since the age of 14, and he still loves to play.
“Even now, it’s fun to keep learning, pushing myself physically and competing with good players,” says Bart. “Many players remain competitive well into their 80s. I hope to do that.” He then might move into pickleball.
While at Princeton University he played on the squash and — undefeated then — tennis teams. Bart developed a love for tennis starting when he was 7.
“My passion for tennis led to my becoming legal adviser to the Women’s Tennis Association and ultimately its CEO,” Bart says.
After serving as legal counsel to WTA for a dozen years, Bart became CEO and board chair in 1998. The job was great for a long-time tennis junkie, he notes, “and it required all of the skills (he’d) developed during (his) legal career — plus more.”
And there were wins for Bart on another level.
“Through little fault of mine, the women’s game was generally viewed as much more fun to watch at that time than the men,” he says, adding the WTA had a great mix of young and old, with contrasting styles and personalities like Venus and Serena Williams, Martina Hingis, Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Steff Graf, Monica Seles, Jana Novotna and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario — all Grand Slam champions. Plus there were the two Belgian stars, Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin, who were well on their way to winning slams.
During those four years with Bart at the helm, WTA negotiated the largest sponsorship and TV contracts in the history of women’s sports, tripling TV coverage in the U.S. and landing the first-ever women’s tennis deal with Eurosport.
Bart’s boardroom resume overlaps into the communications field as well. He serves on the WesCom (Western Communications) board, which, based in Bend, Oregon, oversees eight small newspapers headed by Betsy McCool, daughter of founder Robert Chandler.
“I have always had a passion for news and newspapers — having run my school newspaper and college radio station — and seriously considered a career in journalism,” Bart explains.
In a small-world note: Former local journalist and editor Jane Rees Stebbins works in Brookings at the Curry Coastal Pilot, a WesCom twice-weekly.
And just so you don’t think Bart and Cindy are taking it easy, their current goal is tackling the Camino de Santiago, a 380-mile trek from the foothills of the Pyrenees in France to Santiago in northwestern Spain.
“We hiked 100 miles in eight days last summer,” Bart says. “This year or next, we’d like to make it the rest of the way to Santiago.”
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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