Category Archives: Featured

Smith & Leach Rekindle Partnership to Win Baltimore Cup

The Baltimore Cup final, (l-r): Clive Leach, Yvain Badan, Jonny Smith, Mike Ferreira

Five years after reaching the final of the 2013 World Doubles, Englishmen Jonny Smith & Clive Leach partnered up again to win the 2018 SDA Gold Baltimore Cup at the Baltimore Country Club.

The twelve-team draw played out according to seeding with top seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan setting up their semifinal with Canadian four seeds Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman, and second-seeded Smith & Leach facing off with three seeds Raj Nanda & Greg Park.

The top two seeds set up a final show down, both recording four-game victories in the semifinals.

In the final, Smith & Leach edged a close second game 15-13, before sprinting through the third and final game 15-3 to claim the title.

Just a month ago, Smith had won what had been his largest career SDA title in Delaware with Badan. The world No. 8 now celebrates a new career milestone with his first SDA Gold title. Leach, world No. 12, marks his first full ranking  title of the season and first since the World Doubles Men’s title in September 2017.

“The way we played each match over the weekend it seemed like we had played the last five seasons together,” Leach said. “Our chemistry and strategy was very positive and we just tried to keep it simple. Johnny played very solid and consistent all the way through—especially the final where we kept the relentless pressure on. Our strengths were using different weights of shot, being on the attack and resetting points when needed—and we executed that very well.”

(l-r): Paul McKinnell, Clive Leach, Jonny Smith, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira, Jason Sevier

The Baltimore Cup is one of two regular SDA tournaments in Baltimore with the Maryland Club taking a brief hiatus as the club adds a third doubles court. Outside of the SDA draw, the BCC hosted a WSDA exhibition between Natarsha McElhinny & Narelle Krizek and Latasha Khan & Stephanie Hewitt. A men’s singles invitational was also held alongside the doubles, with Luke Forster winning the competition. Local pro Wade Johnstone played in both events and made the final of the singles invitational.

“I personally really enjoy both the Baltimore stops at the BCC and the Maryland Club,” Leach said. “Great clubs with very passionate memberships. Always so hospitable and accommodating to all the players. I would like to thank Jay Bewley and Wade Johnstone for once again for all their hard work putting on such a great event.”

View images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch Baltimore Cup replays below.

Mathur & Mudge Successfully Defend NAO Title

The 2018 NAO final, (l-r): Yvain Badan, Damien Mudge, Mike Ferreira, Manek Mathur

Playing in their first SDA tournament since their Briggs Cup triumph in December, world No. 1’s Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge made a victorious return by successfully defending their SDA Diamond Chilton Investments North American Open title Monday night in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Top-seeded Mathur & Mudge progressed through the full draw of sixteen teams without a significant challenge on their way to the final, notching three, three-game victories.

The same could not be said for two seeds and finalists Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan.  After a second round exit at the 2017 NAO, Ferreira & Badan faced another early exit down 2-1 in the first round against Carl Baglio & Travis Judson. Ferreira & Badan recovered to emphatically close out the fifth 15-5 and progress to the quarters.

Qualifiers Steve Scharff & James Stout nearly pulled off a first-round upset against Bobby Burns & Hamed Anvari, but fell short 12-15 in the fifth.

The draw otherwise played out according to seeding with the top four seeds contesting the semifinals. After Mathur & Mudge dispatched four seeds Clive Leach & James Bamber, Ferreira & Badan sealed their place in the final with a four-game win over three seeds Bernardo Samper & Chris Callis.

In the final, Mathur & Mudge dropped their only game of the tournament in the second, clinching the title 15-8, 13-15, 15-8, 15-11.

“Mike and Swiss played a great final,” Mathur said. “They adjusted well to our game plan, retrieved almost every ball and definitely put the pressure on. I think in the second we didn’t hit our zones which let their attack of the front court come in to play well. I think heading into the third and fourth we took some pace off to control the ball better which helped.”

(l-r) Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur, Morris Clothier, Bart Osman, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira

Mathur & Mudge now remain unbeaten this season with their fifth title, and continue their winning streak spanning forty-seven matches.

“Great to be back,” Mathur said. “Lots of adversity with physical and health issues for the two of us, but managed to put things behind us for the weekend and pull through with a positive mindset. Unfortunate to miss a couple events leading up to this one, but I am sure we will play a full January next season.”

The title marks Mathur’s third consecutive, having also won in 2016 with Badan. Mudge’s remarkable NAO title record now extends to his fifteenth having won his first in 2000.

“The NAO is arguably the most prestigious title on the tour so to have our name on it together again is amazing,”Mathur said. “For me especially I started my doubles career at the FCG so it means a lot to be winning this event for the third time.”

The North American Open was first held in 1931. The Greenwich doubles community perennially hosts the event at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club.

“This event has grown and improved year over year,” Mathur said. “We cannot thank Chilton, Lexington Partners and The Delamar hotel enough for all their support. Steve, Liam and Rodney go through a huge amount of work to make their event run smoothly and it shows right from the first ball hit to the last. We both look forward to being back next year.”

View NAO images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch match replays below.

Bassett & Bews Break Through in Pittsburgh

(l-r) Adam Bews, Omar El Kashef, Clinton Leeuw, Graham Bassett

After competing on the SDA Pro Tour since its formation in 2012, world No. 17 Adam Bews and world No. 21 Graham Bassett made their first title break through at the  2018 Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger this weekend in western Pennsylvania.

Bassett & Bews entered the eight-team draw as the top seeds, and fulfilled their seeding without dropping a game on their way to a maiden title.

Elsewhere in the draw, there were a number of five-gamers. In an all-Canadian quarterfinal, Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro outlasted Strachan Jarvis & Mark Porter, 15-9, 9-15, 15-14, 12-15, 15-12.

Two seeds Clinton Leeuw & Omar El Kashef endured two five-gamers on their way to the final, first against Kyle Martino & Adam Perkiomaki, followed by coming back from 2-1 down against Travis Judson & Aaron Luque in the semis.

In the final, it was Bassett & Bews who came out on top in a close three games 15-14, 15-11, 15-12.

“I think we were fortunate to win the final in three games,” Bassett said. “Clinton and Omar are tremendous athletes and were working me into the ground. I’m not sure how much gas I had left in the tank had it gone more than three games.”

The Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger was only Bassett & Bews’ second appearance together this season following the Westchester Country Club Pro Doubles in November.

“Being the top seed in the event was a different experience for us but I think it gave us more confidence,” Bews said. “It was one of those weekends where we were both seeing the ball really well and felt very comfortable on court. We played good steady doubles and didn’t make many errors all weekend.”

Last month, Bews reached the semifinals of the Briggs Cup with Will Hartigan. Bassett enjoyed a semifinal run last weekend in Delaware with Jordan Greenberg.

“We played really well together in the Westchester event earlier this season, and I feel like we continued that good chemistry in Pittsburgh,” Bassett said. “I think we were fortunate to face three teams that called for a similar game plan. Adam is a tough competitor, and has been having a great season on tour. He was steady the whole time and delivered some big winners at crucial times.”

Both players celebrate their first career SDA Tour title.

(l-r) Graham Bassett, Adam Bews, Jim Shields, Omar El Kashef, Clinton Leeuw

 

“It’s a great feeling,” Bews said. “It’s an awesome way to start 2018 and helps continue a good season for me personally, I don’t think it has really sunk in yet.”

“I have been working in some capacity with the SDA since we transitioned from the ISDA in 2012,” said Bassett, the SDA Tour Director. “I think my role as a player has always taken a backseat to the administrator role, and it’s been a struggle to balance the two. After attending so many events and working hard behind the scenes, it’s really special to finally win one. With the big Eagles win last night, I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday. I live in Boston, so I’ll be happily spending the next two weeks behind enemy lines.”

The Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger is in its fifth year since its founding in 2014.

“Pittsburgh is a phenomenal little event,” Bassett said. “It is a very warm and welcoming squash community. The players are looked after very well, and they pack the stands to the rafters. I’d like to thank Jim Shields, David Hillman and all the sponsors and patrons from the Pittsburgh Golf Club for their generous support year after year.”

“I always love going to Pittsburgh to play,” Bews said. “That was my third year in a row. The members are very welcoming, Jim does such a great job looking after the pros and organizing the event. Every year the crowd continues to grow and the pro am gets better and better. I am looking forward to coming back next season.”

The SDA Tour heats back up this weekend in Greenwich, Connecticut, with the final Diamond event of the season—the Chilton Investments North American Open, January 26-29.

View images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch match replays below.

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Smith & Badan Reunite to Triumph in Delaware

The 2018 Delaware Pro Doubles final, (l-r): Greg Park, Yvain Badan, Jonny Smith, Will Mariani)

The 2018 Delaware Pro Doubles draw was stirring before it even began. Shortly before the tournament began, John Russell was forced to withdraw from his top seeded partnership with Chris Callis due to injury, with Jonny Smith stepping in to replace his fellow Englishman. Shortly thereafter, Callis sustained an injury and was forced to withdraw, which saw Yvain Badan step in to rekindle his former partnership with Smith as the top seeds at Wilmington Country Club.

Smith & Badan made it seem as though they had been playing together all along with a decisive three-game victory in the first round to set up a semifinal against Canada’s Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro. After a narrow five-game loss in Boston, Hamilton & Nigro once again faced match balls in the first round Bobby Burns & Hamed Anvari, but this time fighting them off to win the tournament’s only five-gamer 13-15, 15-10, 12-15, 15-14, 15-12.

The Canadians took an early advantage against the top seeds by winning the first game 15-11, before Smith & Badan regained control to advance to the final in four games.

In the final against two seeds Will Mariani & Greg Park, Smith & Badan controlled a close match to claim the title 15-6, 15-12, 15-13.

“After the first game drew out in the semis, we did a good job not panicking and getting back to and executing our game plan,” Badan said. “The final was a three love score, but it was much closer than the score suggests. There were long rallies, but we had out strategy in place. We found our way to control the match, but we knew we had to be patient.”

The SDA Silver title marks the largest in Smith’s career, and is Badan’s first since the 2016 PDC Cup.

“Unfortunately there are quite a few injuries on the tour at the minute, hence a few partner changes, but in the end I was extremely happy to be playing with Swiss.” Smith said. “Obviously we know each others games very well which enhanced our team chemistry and to win the tournament was great; tournament wins aren’t easy to come by, this was the biggest so far in my career!”

(l-r) Yvain Badan, Jonny Smith, Ed Chilton, Will Mariani, Greg Park

Smith & Badan had previously reached the Delaware final in 2011.

“Jonny and I used to play together a few years back,” Badan said. “He asked me to step in after the injuries so I was excited. We’ve known each other a long time, he was a senior at Trinity when I was a freshman so our friendship goes all the way back to 2002. He’s someone everyone enjoys and respects. It felt pretty comfortable, I was amazed how quickly we got used to each other and remembered how to play together. I’m grateful to win a tournament on this competitive tour, and especially to do it with Jonny given our history together.”

The Delaware Pro Doubles returns to the tour after a brief hiatus. The tournament was first held in 1995. Wilmington also hosts the annual U.S. Junior Doubles Championships.

“It was great to have a SDA event back again at the Wilmington Country Club, where historically the doubles community has always been very strong and knowledgeable,” Smith said.

“It’s a very nice group of people in Wilmington and was great to go back there,” Badan said. “Everyone really enjoys Ed Chilton, who runs the program there where the community appreciates the high level of squash doubles. The players were all glad to see the event back on the calendar.”

View Delaware Pro Doubles images on the SDA SmugMug Page.

Watch Delaware Pro Doubles match replays below.

Arnold & Clarke Lift Largest SDA Title in Boston

The 2018 MFS Pro-Am Boston final, (l-r): Scott Arnold, Yvain Badan, Robin Clarke, Mike Ferreira

Canadian national doubles champions Scott Arnold & Robin Clarke started off the new year by winning their biggest SDA title to date–the platinum MFS Pro-Am Boston at the University Club and Harvard Club of Boston.

Arnold has spent majority of this season playing with John Russell and has risen to world No. 3 with his new partnership. Arnold had been entered with Russell until the Englishman was forced to pull out of the tournament two weeks leading up to it. Clarke, world No. 49,  filled in for Russell and entered the draw with Arnold as the four seeds.

The first two rounds saw just one match progress to five games as Bostonians Graham Bassett & John Roberts pipped Canadians Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro 15-14 in the fifth game. The top four seeds all progressed to the semifinals, where Arnold & Clarke and top seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan both won in three games.

A marathon final concluded the tournament with two big momentum shifts throughout. Arnold & Clarke edged the first two games 15-11, 15-14, courtesy of a few more errors from Ferreira & Badan. The top seeds came back in the third and fourth, however, cutting down their error counts to win 15-11, 15-11. The fifth progressed with a close scoreline until at 10-all, Clarke fired off a sequence of winners to claim the title 15-10.

“The first two games had a lot of long rallies and it was very competitive, but they made a few more mistakes which allowed us to keep the lead in those games,”  Clarke said. “In the third and fourth, personally, I started to fade a bit physically so I started to get a little lethargic with my movement, and they stopped making mistakes.  Mike started hitting some ridiculous winners. In the fifth it was pretty much anybody’s game and we were going back and forth. Around 10-all we won five in a row and I hit a few winners to close out the match.”

“It’s always tough to switch the momentum after losing a couple of games,” Arnold added. “But we had a good idea of what we were trying to do out there, it was just a matter of trying to get back to those things and staying positive.”

The MFS Pro-Am Boston marked Arnold & Clarke’s third career SDA title together and first since the 2016 Toronto Cricket Club Open.

(l-r): Lenny Bernheimer, Robin Clarke, Scott Arnold, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira, Amrit Kanwal.

“I think it’s one of the if not the strongest doubles communities around,” Clarke said. “The members are amazing. They treat the players unbelievably well. The committee, Lenny and everybody makes sure that when we land, everything is taken care of. So really we’re able to focus solely on competing and playing the best doubles we can. The Pro-Am component of it is great. The members are always fun to play with and you always meet someone new and make new friends. The other cool thing with Boston is walking through the club and seeing the previous champions listed and the pictures of them. It’s one of the most prestigious titles on tour in my opinion.”

The MFS Pro-Am Boston  was first held in 1992.

“The first event after the holidays is always a tough one, so it’s definitely nice to come out and get the win, having it be in Boston where we both love to visit and play is a bonus,” Arnold said. “The Squash community down in Boston is obviously a great one.  The fact that so many of the members, sponsors, friends, etc., turned out despite the snowstorm and freezing temperatures showed just how much they love their Squash down there.  Also that the support and enthusiasm levels are so high for this event year in year out, it really is a fun one to play.”

View images from the tournament on the SDA Smugmug page. Watch match replays below on the SDA YouTube page.