The second SDA Pro Tour Combine drew two dozen prospects to the doubles courts on Sunday, June 3, at Apawamis in Rye, New York.
The combine aims to expose experienced singles players to professional-level hardball doubles in hopes of attracting competitors to the SDA Pro Tour.
The twenty-four players included current and recent college graduates, current and former PSA players and teaching professionals. The coaching staff consisted of world No. 1 Manek Mathur, Commonwealth Games gold medalist Zac Alexander, veterans Steve Scharff and Travis Judson, and SDA Tour Director Graham Bassett.
“Having twenty-four young doubles players make the trip to Rye from locales ranging from Toronto to South Carolina was really a neat thing to experience,” Scharff said. “All the participants showed a passion and enthusiasm for doubles that made the day fly by. While everyone had a strong squash background, the amount of doubles that each player had experienced varied. Everyone took advantage of having the coaches there and you could see remarkable improvement in the strategies and tactics being utilized by the end of the day.”
The players were divided into four teams consisting of three pairs with a coach leading each team. At the end of the day, the Grey team topped the standings thanks to Chris Fernandez & Alexander Ma, Ryan Mullaney & Greg Crane and Dane Sharp & Freddy Hernandez, each earning SDA rankings points as a result.
“I took a lot away from the combine, it was great to be able to get coaching in between games and matches from some very good and established doubles players,” said Fernandez, a recent graduate of St. Lawrence. “They definitely see the game from a completely different perspective and to have them share their knowledge and wisdom with us was something I don’t take from granted. I will definitely look Into playing more events next year.”
The top two teams with the best records, Tim Lasusa & Elroy Leong and Fernandez & Ma, also received bonus rankings points for the best games won record.
“The main take away for me from the combine for me was just having the opportunity to meet other great doubles players who are also interested in joining the tour,” said Ma, a recent graduate of Harvard. “Getting on court with such high-quality players, combined with the advice of the coaches, really helped me understand the areas where I need to improve my game in order to win matches on the doubles tour. It was a great experience that will me develop further as a player and more importantly, expand my network in the doubles scene.”
In addition to exposure to elite coaching, the participants were provided with the full network of SDA professionals in hopes of securing future partnerships.
Overall it was a very inspiring day and I will definitely be playing some more events this coming season as a result,” said Tim Lasusa, a recent St. Lawrence graduate and PSA player. “Hopefully we can get more young guys playing after they graduate. It’s an amazing game and it’s a great time to join. Eventually the top guys are going to retire and it’s up to us to step up and create a great product.”
Watch match replays below. View images in the SDA SmugMug gallery.