Australian’s Matt Jenson & Scott Arnold won their biggest career SDA titles and first as partners this weekend—the SDA Gold Baltimore Cup at the Baltimore Country Club.
Jenson, world No. 9, & Arnold, world No. 8, defeated the top two seeds on their way to the title in what were their biggest upsets on tour to date.
The partnership’s debut season has already included four major semifinal runs at the North American Open, Jim Bentley Cup, PDC Cup and St. Louis Open. World No. 1 Manek Mathur & world No. 2 Damien Mudge ended three of those runs, and world No. 3 Yvain Badan & world No. 4 Mike Ferreira defeated Jenson & Arnold in Atlanta.
In their first match up since the PDC Cup defeat, Jenson & Arnold took out Ferreira & Badan in three games, 15-13, 15-12, 15-12, to shake up the draw.
In the bottom half of the draw, two seeds Jonny Smith & Chris Callis progressed to the final without dropping a game, including against Graham Bassett & Fred Reid, who marked their second major semifinal appearance of the season in addition to the Bentley.
A close final saw Jenson & Arnold recover from losing the first game to take the title in four, 8-15, 15-11, 15-10, 15-13.
“I feel like Scott and I played the way we have always thought we could. It just all came together this weekend,” Jenson said. “Obviously, both of those teams are extremely talented which probably increased our motivation to test ourselves.”
Jenson has been pleased with the way the partnership has developed in their first season together.
“It’s been great playing with Scott,” Jenson added. “He is an immense talent. Like any team sport it takes some time to develop the right/best chemistry. I think this weekend showed what we are capable of doing and it was great to finally put it together.”
The Baltimore Cup title is Jenson’s first since the 2015 Hashim Khan, and Arnold’s first since the 2016 Ridley Windows and Doors Cricket Club Open.
“It’s tough winning any event,” Jenson said. “The opportunities don’t always come your way so you have to take your chances when they come. I was just really impressed with Scott and his ball striking and shot selection. The Baltimore Cup comprises a membership that are knowledgeable about the game. Glad we got our first win together.”
World No. 16 Baset Chaudhry signed off his 2016-2017 SDA Pro tour campaign with his third title of the season, and second title at the $15,000 Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger with first-time partner Jonny Smith.
The Trinity graduates entered the main draw seeded second, and pulled off a perfect tournament without dropping a game, including a three-game victory against top seeds Raj Nanda & Greg Park in the final.
Chaudhry praised his first-time partner and world No. 10, Smith, for a strong performance over the weekend.
“This was our first SDA tournament together, I was finally able to persuade Jonny to partner up with me,” Chaudhry said of his partner, Smith. “I think the key over the weekend was that we kept our intensity up through every single point. We wanted to play aggressive steady squash and I think we were able to execute that quite nicely. Like any other sport, doubles squash is all about momentum and confidence. Our plan was to get to a solid start right from the beginning of the tournament and carry it through till the end of the weekend, and luckily we were able to achieve that.”
Pittsburgh marks Chaudhry’s final tournament of the season before the thirty-one-year-old returns to his native Pakistan, but revealed his desire to represent his home country in the recently-announced 2017 World Doubles this September in St. Louis.
“This was my last SDA tournament for the season,” Chaudhry said. “As many of you know, I’m heading back to Pakistan for a few months for personal reasons, but I will be back in the summer and would definitely like to compete in the world open later this year. We don’t have hardball there so will have to figure out a way to stay sharp. It’s remarkable to see the tour grow over the past few years. The addition of new events and live streaming has been very refreshing and I believe with continued support of the patrons, sponsors and the squash community, it will only get better.”
“It was great to play with Baset and even sweeter to win in his last tournament before he heads back to Pakistan, he will be missed in the U.S. SQUASH circles,” Smith said.
Chaudhry won his first Pittsburgh title in 2014 with Nanda, and adds Pittsburgh to his Missouri Athletic Club Open and Long Island Open titles this season.
“Pittsburgh has been really kind to me for sure,” Chaudhry said. “This was my second time here and both times I have been lucky enough to clinch the title. I guess I just need to keep coming back each year.”
“The Pittsburgh doubles community was very hospitable,” Chaudhry said of the hosts. “A lot of the members had offered their residences to the players and made sure we were well taken care of, so can’t thank them enough for their support. The crowd was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, which makes it even more fun for the players. Thanks again to Jim Shields for running such an amazing event.”
The 2017 WSF World Hardball Squash Doubles Championships will be staged in St. Louis, Missouri, September 21-24.
The 12th edition of the championships, featuring Men’s, Women’s and Mixed events and organized by the Squash Doubles Association (SDA) and Women’s Squash Doubles Association (WSDA) Pro Tours under the auspices of the World Squash Federation, will take place at the Racquet Club of St Louis and Missouri Athletic Club.
England’s John Russell & Clive Leach are expected to defend the Men’s title they won in 2015. It was also an English pair, Suzie Pierrepont & Carrie Hastings, who claimed the Women’s title in the same championships, while Canadians Viktor Berg & Stephanie Hewitt are the defending Mixed champions.
“The SDA is very excited to be working with the World Squash Federation, the Racquet Club of St. Louis, the Missouri Athletic Club and the WSDA to bring the World Hardball Doubles Squash Championship to the United States in September of this year,” said SDA Board Chair Kevin Luzak. “The event will be the highlight of the 2017-18 calendar with the largest draws and one of the largest purses of the season for both the SDA and WSDA tours. The St. Louis team is already gearing up for what will undoubtedly be a blockbuster event at a fantastic venue.”
Michael Puertas, Head Squash Professional of the Racquet Club of St. Louis, commented: “St. Louis has a rich history of promoting squash in the U.S., having hosted the U.S. National Championships in 1950, 1960, 1968, 1977, 1985, 1992, 2000, 2006 and 2013. We are well prepared and proud to play host to the 2017 World Doubles Squash Championship.”
Adam Bews, Head Squash Professional at Missouri Athletic Club, added: “We are delighted to welcome the World Championship Doubles to St Louis. The Missouri Athletic Club and Racquet Club of St. Louis members have been hugely supportive of squash and doubles every year and we are so happy to be able to host this for them at their home clubs. St Louis has become one of the most popular destinations for the Doubles tour and we cannot wait to have all of the Pro’s back in September.”
The prize fund is more than $70,000—with parity offered in the men’s and women’s draws.