A dozen top college graduates and singles professionals convened at the Apawamis Club to take part in the inaugural SDA Pro Tour combine, Saturday June 10, in Rye, New York.
The first event of its kind aimed to expose experienced singles players to professional-level hardball doubles in hopes of attracting future competitors to the SDA Pro Tour.
“The SDA Board of Directors realized how difficult it is for newcomers to join the tour,” said Graham Bassett, SDA Pro Tour Director. “The purpose of the SDA Combine is to remove some of the roadblocks from joining. Participants are given a chance to earn SDA points, receive coaching from the game’s best, and play some high quality matches. They are also introduced to a pool of prospective partners in the same position as themselves and given a feel for the comradery of the tour. This year’s pool was exceptional. They were all enthusiastic and there was some terrific talent. The future of the tour looks bright!”
“The energy and enthusiasm at Apawamis was contagious,” Mathur said. “It was great to see such powerful singles resumes battle it out and be so receptive to advice and constructive criticism. I think this was a great idea for the growth of the SDA and the tour is headed in the right direction. The level of potential was extremely high for all the guys that played. If all these guys go back to the drawing board and spend some time on court this summer, we might see some new names in the top rankings next season.”
Leach, a veteran of both the ISDA and SDA eras for more than a decade, praised the format and goal of attracting new players to the tour.
“The players really responded well to our coaching and advice, and I felt there was really good intensity from all players,” Leach said. “Some had more experience than others, but overall they really did try and execute what we were asking of them. This format worked really well and I hope to see this type of event again soon. This is definitely the way forward to attracting and encouraging more players to this great game. Personally, I enjoyed the day sharing my knowledge to the next generation of players.”
Heights Casino professional and first place finisher Omar El Kashef said his doubles game improved over the course of the day thanks to the professional coaching exposure.
“One of the amazing things about squash doubles is that every time I play with or against someone new, there is a different perspective that I wasn’t even considering,” El Kashef said. ” I spoke to my partner Julian a lot before and during the match. We worked together on finding the harmony we aimed for. Also, Manek and Travis were watching every single point. They made sure they talked to us between games and matches. It was very good to hear their constructive feedback on how to adjust our game to hardball doubles instead of playing ‘singles in the doubles court.'”
“I would like to thank Graham and the SDA for this tremendous idea,” Mathur added. “I want to encourage all prospective players to mark the next SDA combine on their calendars as it was a great opportunity for all those that attended.”
The event will feature the best professional teams from around the world competing in Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed divisions. Additionally, all amateur players are encouraged to get in on the fun. Men’s A, Women’s B, a full slate of age groups and Mixed 35+ are all open for play. All teams must represent the same country.
The twelfth biennial 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.
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.
“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,” said Michael Puertas, Head Squash Professional of the Racquet Club of St. Louis. “We are well prepared and proud to play host to the 2017 World Doubles Squash Championship.”
“We are delighted to welcome the World Championship Doubles to St Louis,” added Adam Bews, Head Squash Professional at Missouri Athletic Club. “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 pros back in September.”