“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.”
One month after their triumph at the R&T Challenger, James Stout & Greg McArthur closed out the 2017-2018 SDA season with a flourish, by claiming their first SDA Gold title at the second Buffalo Pro Doubles at the Buffalo Club in New York.
Stout & McArthur’s only lost game of the tournament came in the first round against Canadians Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro, who were dispatched in four games. The R&T Challenger champs then upset four seeds Adam Bews & Zac Alexander in a decisive three-game quarterfinal. Elsewhere in the draw’s bottom half, Bobby Burns & Omar El Kashef knocked out two seeds Fred Reid & Clive Leach in four games to reach their first career SDA Gold semifinal together. Stout & McArthur ended Burns & El Kashef’s surprise run in the semis to reach their second consecutive final.
In the top half of the draw, both seeds advanced to the semifinals where defending champions and top seeds John Russell & Scott Arnold held off Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman in four games.
The final proved to be a one-sided affair as Stout McArthur dethroned Russell & Arnold 15-8, 15-7, 15-6.
“We were playing well heading into the tournament, having won the R&T Challenger, but knew there would be stiffer competition with Russell and Arnold looking to defend their title, and four or five other strong pairs playing,” Stout said. “Greg and I played well on the court and felt confident that we could slow down the pace of the game with high lobs and soft shots to the front of the court, whilst also taking the ball early and injecting pace when necessary.”
Stout & McArthur first made a statement this season by reaching the semifinals of the David C. Johnson Memorial, which they followed up with another strong performance in New York City by winning the R&T Challenger–their first title together in five years.
The Buffalo Pro Doubles was just the fourth SDA appearance of the season for the Stout & McArthur partnership with both players juggling other responsibilities outside of the tour. Stout is also a full-time Rackets professional, while McArthur is a professional at Sleepy Hollow.
“It’s exciting to win our first SDA Gold event,” McArthur said. “It definitely felt like we were continuing our momentum from the previous two events and did well to execute our game plan again this weekend. It’s been tough for James and I to regularly play on the tour over recent seasons, and to be honest I wasn’t sure of playing many SDA events in the future, but these last three tournaments have really given us a confidence boost and proven that we can compete with and beat the top teams. Hopefully we can continue to improve next season.”
“It feels great closing out the season with a win in Buffalo, especially with it being an SDA Gold event,” Stout said. “The 2017-2018 season was really positive for Greg and I, as we played well in all the tournaments and managed to win the last couple of events as a bonus. We hope to keep moving forward next season.”
2018 marked just the second edition of the Buffalo Pro Doubles, which was initially held as an SDA Silver event last season.
“This was my first time playing in Buffalo and I was impressed by how well run it was,” McArthur said. “Credit to the organizers for raising even more prize money to make it a gold event this season. All of the pros appreciated the hospitality and it was great to see such a knowledgeable and passionate doubles membership. I’m looking forward to coming back next year to defend our title.”
With the Buffalo Pro Doubles, the 2017-2018 SDA season comes to a close. Next moth, the third annual SDA combine will introduce new prospects to the game on June 2 at the Apawamis Club in Rye, New York.