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Burns & Bedell Achieve Maiden SDA Title Triumph in Denver

The 2018 Hashim Khan final, (l-r): Greg Park, Eric Bedell, Bobby Burns, Matt Jenson.

One of the youngest teams on the SDA Tour, Bobby Burns & Eric Bedell, upset the 2018 Hashim Khan seeding to claim their first career SDA title this weekend at the Denver Athletic Club, while local Meredeth Quick successfully defended her WSDA title with fellow Coloradan Suzie Pierrepont.

The SDA Challenger eight-team main draw saw the return of two retired pros and former partners Matt Jenson and Denver local Preston Quick. Jenson progressed through the top half of the draw  with Greg Park as top seeds, while Quick & Graham Bassett upset two seeds Will Mariani & James Bamber in the first round.

Burns & Bedell, who played together at Bates, began their surprise SDA title run with a first-round upset against three seeds Clinton Leeuw & Aaron Luque, coming back from losing the first game to advance in four.

Burns & Bedell then edged Bassett & Quick in the semifinals, sneaking out all three games on simultaneous game balls to reach the final 15-14, 15-14, 15-14.

In the final, Jenson & Park took a 2-1 advantage 15-12, 8-15, 15-14, when Burns & Bedell completely turned the final on its head, dominating the fourth and fifth games 15-16, 15-6.

“To win our first SDA title feels fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” Bedell said. “This is the culmination of all the hard work, determination, and heart that we put into this sport. We approached each match with the focus of playing to our strengths, fighting for every rally, and trusting each other. Our abilities to extend rallies, pressure our opponents, and improvise allowed us to capitalize on attacking opportunities throughout the weekend. It is a great feeling to see our preparation pay off!”

“I couldn’t be happier,” Burns said. “Obviously, the goal is to win every match you play but it’s hard to envision winning tournaments. We were fortunate that it all came together this past weekend and the result makes me want to do it again.”

(l-r) Eric Bedell, Bobby Burns, Greg Park, Matt Jenson

Since first playing in an SDA event together in 2014, Bedell—twenty-six years old—& Burns—twenty-eight years old—have learned from SDA veterans such as Jenson and Quick.

“Both those players have accomplished so much in their careers, it’s hard to quantify everything they bring to the table as opponents,” Burns said. “Personally, I love watching Matt play squash. As a right-handed left-waller, I’m not as tall as Mudgie or as fast as Bernardo and don’t shoot as well as John Russell, so Matt was someone I studied to learn a lot from. His racquet prep and positioning are consistent and aggressive—that, coupled with a dynamic shot selection makes him a very dangerous player. Preston strikes such a clean ball but the take away playing against him, is his on-court attitude. He competes so hard but appears to have a collected, mindful presence at all times. Both players have had exceptional careers. I am happy to see both on tour when their time allows for it.”

“For me personally, it was a pleasure to share the court with both Matt and Preston,” Bedell said. “I actually try to model some of my game after each of their play styles. Preston’s movement, positioning and shot selection on the right wall are superb. He always positions himself in the right place at the right time and effortlessly moves the ball around the court. As for Matt, I am in awe of his precision into the front of the court. His racquet preparation and technique allow him to fire the ball in with pinpoint accuracy. Even if you read the shot, it seems to be up to him if you will be able to get it.”

After playing together in college, Bedell & Burns honed their squash doubles game while stationed at their home club, the Heights Casino, in Brooklyn.

“Eric and I played our first pro tournament together, I think four years ago at the NAO,” Burns said. “We played opposite walls in that match. Needless to say, we have both worked hard at our games since then. While we had confidence in each other’s abilities, I think the best thing from the weekend was our communication. I think having more of a history, allowed us to self-assess accurately and play without fear or doubt. There is a lot of natural trust between us and it makes playing doubles squash really really fun.”

“While I thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside Bobby this weekend, it’s even greater to have him as a friend,” Bedell said. “I am very grateful to have not only grown professionally on the court with him but also personally off the court. We have been great friends since we met at Bates and that makes it so much more fun to be on court with him. Our first doubles partnership was actually a few years ago when we paired up for the North American Open, albeit with myself on the left wall and Bobby on the right wall. It certainly did not go as well as this past weekend. I think we may have found the better arrangement.”

The WSDA draw saw locals Meredeth Quick & Suzie Pierrepont fulfill their top seeding. The result marked Quick’s third consecutive title in Denver having won the 2017 National Doubles and 2016 Hashim Khan with Natarsha McElhinny. Quick & Pierrepont endured a difficult final against two seeds and recently-crowned National Doubles champions Stephanie Hewitt & Georgina Stoker, prevailing 15-11, 8-15, 10-15, 15-10, 15-8.

“Thank you to John and Anne Lesko at the Denver Athletic Club for hosting and running a great event and to Graham Bassett for organizing the SDA’s operations,” Bedell said. “I look forward to playing in Denver again!”

“I want to thank Anne Lesko and the Denver Athletic Club,” Burns said. “They do an incredible job with the entire tournament. I think there were more than ten divisions competing this past weekend. It’s always great to be part of a large scale event. Graham Bassett also deserves a ton of credit for all the work he does everyday for the tour.”

View images on the SDA Smugmug page. Watch SDA and WSDA match replays below.

Quick Announces Retirement From SDA Tour After Hashim Khan Final

l-r: Preston Quick, John Russell, James Stout, Matt Jenson.
l-r: Preston Quick, John Russell, James Stout, Matt Jenson.

Twenty years ago, a local eighteen-year old entered the Hashim Khan qualification draw at the Denver Athletic Club in Colorado. It was the Denver-native’s first professional doubles appearance, and would be the first match of professional doubles career spanning fifteen years.

On Sunday, Quick, and partner of the past four years, Matt Jenson, found themselves one point away from a third Hashim Khan title. Their final opponents and top seeds, Mike Ferreira & Jacques Swanepoel, were also one point away from defending their 2015 title—which was held as an invitational and their partnership’s debut—as the match came down to the last point at 14-14 in the fifth game.

During the final rally, Quick fired a cross court to Ferreira on the left wall, who returned the shot with his own cross court, just escaping Quick’s reach on the right wall to close out the match and seal a second consecutive title—and first title together in a full-ranking event.

l-r: finalists Matt Jenson & Preston Quick, champions Jacques Swanepoel & Mike Ferreira.
l-r: finalists Matt Jenson & Preston Quick, champions Jacques Swanepoel & Mike Ferreira.

Although Ferreira & Swanepoel claimed the title, the post-match ceremony turned it’s focus on their local hero, who went on to announce that the Hashim Khan was his final tournament as a touring SDA professional.

“That was a hell of match,” Quick said afterwards. “Thanks to both of you, you’re both such gentleman on court. It was a pleasure playing against you, congratulations to you both.”

“My first event was here twenty years ago in qualifying as an eighteen year old. I’ve been playing on tour now for fifteen years, which is hard to believe it’s been that long. I couldn’t think of a better place to end it than here at the Hashim Khan. Hashim was one of my first coaches who taught me how to play. It was very special to me to have my name on the trophy two years ago. That meant a lot to me. It was great to have Sam Khan here tonight. Thank you to Hashim Khan and his family for all they’ve done for squash in Denver.”

Quick ends his career with five pro doubles titles, three final appearances this season, five national doubles titles and two world doubles titles. His most recent title was the 2014 Hashim Khan with Jenson.

In his singles career, Quick won two college national team titles with Trinity in 1999 and 2000, and two S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Championships in 2003 and 2004. He won three national doubles titles and two world doubles titles.

Quick thanked numerous coaches, mentors and partners including his sister, Meredeth, Ganek Family US Squash Head National Coach Paul Assaiante, Denver Athletic Club professional John Lesko, partners Jamie Bentley, Ben Gould—with whom he reached world No. 1, John Russell and his partner of the past four years, Jenson.

“I’m proud to be back in Colorado and I’m proud to be a member here at DAC,” Quick continued. “Thanks to my parents for introducing me to the club, the game and bringing me down here as a kid to play. Getting me on the doubles court. To Dad, my first doubles partner.  To my wife, Jess. Thank you for all of your love and support these last few years. My body has been breaking down more and more and she still encouraged me to keep playing. Now we have to kids at home, and she still encouraged me to keep playing. Even before coming on court tonight, she wanted to double check to make sure I wanted to call it quits. So I couldn’t thank you enough for your love and support.

“I’m going to miss this game and miss playing at this level. I’m really looking forward to being at home more, playing for fun and bringing my little ones down to teach them the game just like my parents did with us.”

Jenson and the champions also paid tribute to one of the squash greats of the past two decades.

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Members of the Quick family, l-r: Jocille, Taylor, Jess, Preston and Meredeth.

“I’ve played with Preston for the past four years and it’s been special winning two titles here with him,” Jenson said. “It’s been special not only playing with Preston, but having Preston run the tour in a period of growth.

“The Quick family has been an integral part of this club and community. It’s only fitting for Preston to end his career on this court. I think for this crowd and all of the players here, there’s nothing more important than this game, this club and this court. It’s been an honor playing with Preston. He’s a great guy. I’ll dearly miss playing with him.”

For Ferreira and Swanepoel, the Hashim Khan was Ferreira’s second and largest full ranking title, and Swanepoel’s second of the season and his career, adding to the Pittsburgh Challenger with Jenson.

Ferreira paid tribute to a fellow Bantam.

“Preston will be missed as a player on tour,” Ferreira said. “He has not only had a very impressive career, but really is a great guy and has really helped grow the SDA tour and squash doubles. So we all really appreciate the work he has done. Preston is also one of the first Trinity guys to play doubles and inspired a lot of the younger Trinity guys, including Jonny Smith, myself, and a number of others on tour to take up the game and compete.”

“Preston will be missed on the tour,” Swanepoel added. “He is a great player and a really good guy. He was always willing to talk about doubles and help out other players.”

Although he will no longer be on tour, Quick said he would be competing in the Hashim Khan for years to come.

Watch a replay of the final here, and the post-match ceremony here.

Mudge & Gould Run Away With Revived Denver Club Invitational

L-R: Yvain Badan, Ben Gould, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge. (image: SDA)

Dominant joint world No. 1’s Damien Mudge & Ben Gould knocked of the rust from the summer months to win the first full ranking Squash Doubles Association (SDA) tournament of the 2014-2015—The Denver Club Invitational in Colorado.

In what has primarily been an Invitational, non-ranking event the past seventeen years, the Denver Club increased to a $25,000 Silver tournament.

Viktor Berg, playing on the left wall for the first time in an SDA match, & partner Jacques Swanepoel, Head Coach of Columbia University ended the hopes of Denver’s-own Preston Quick, world No. 6, & partner Matt Jenson, world No. 7, in their first match of the tournament. In their first tournament as partners, Berg & Swanepoel pulled out the match in five games 11-15, 15-11, 15-10, 7-15, 15-9.

Berg & Swanepoel’s match would be the only major upset of the tournament as the other top three seeds comprised the semifinals. In the top half of the draw, Mudge & Gould—clad in Australian green and gold—made it two 3-0 victories in a row against four seeds Imran Khan and Greg Park in the semifinals.

After recovering from a broken arm, which kept him out of some of the final events of last season, world No. 4 Yvain Badan returned to the court with partner and world No. 5 Manek Mathur. Mathur & Badan needed four games in both their first match against Matt Domenick & Chris Callis, as well as their semifinal against Berg & Swanepoel—15-14, 15-9, 12-15, 15-4.

The final was a closely-contested match with Mudge & Gould dropping a rare game in third forcing a fourth game. In the fourth, an unintentional collision aggravated Badan’s arm severely inhibiting the duo’s play for the rest of the game, allowing Mudge & Gould to coast to a 15-9 win in the final game.

“It’s always tough to play the first tournament of the season having five months off from competition, especially when you are playing at altitude with the red ball that reacts differently, but definitely happy with our first win of the year,” Mudge said.

“I’m very happy that Todd Binns, the head professional, and the committee decided to hold a full ranking event. I think it has been seven years since they have had a full ranking event there. They really enjoyed it and it bodes well for next season.

“Outside of doubles, Jimmy Mulvihill held an eight-man tournament at his court in his house, which was a lot of fun and created a new element to the weekend. Everyone seemed to enjoy playing and watching it so special thanks to Jimmy and Heather for hosting. Was a great evening of food, drinks and socializing in an amazing setting.”

The Denver Club has supported professional squash doubles for seventeen years with varying editions of the Denver Club Invitational, the tournament’s return to a full ranking event is a renewed push to support the blossoming SDA Pro Tour according to Denver Club’s Binns.

“We decided to move to a full ranking event because the Denver Club historically has been a supporter of professional squash soubles,” Binns said, “Given the new burgeoning SDA tour we wanted to add to that growth of pro squash doubles in North America by endorsing the efforts of many to bring the game to the masses.

“Our membership is comprised of an ever-growing younger player base, and there are a lot of new faces in the Pro game and that depth of talent is what they desire to see. They also enjoy playing the Pro-Am and I had no trouble getting twelve of my players to compete.

“The feedback I’ve received has been phenomenal. Our gallery was packed the entire time for all matches. As the host venue, everyone was impressed and how could we not be happy with that. The Pros all made an effort to be friendly with the members and spent a lot of time with them. This was a huge success for our Club and our sponsors Tres Santos, DSP Builders Inc., Harrow Sports, Glo Professional and Inspirato. Our members are ready for more!”

Home Hero Quick & Jenson Hoist Hashim Khan

Playing on the Denver Athletic Club courts where he learned the sport in the thirty-fifth Hashim Khan, Denver-native Preston Quick and partner Matt Jenson claimed their first ranking event title since becoming full-time partners two years ago.

World No. 11 and 12 Jenson & Quick both dipped in March’s rankings from eight and seven after Jenson took a brief hiatus, during which Quick played with Greg McArthur and Viktor Berg in the David Johnson and North American Open respectively.

Reunited for the first tournament since the Putnam Pro-Am, top seeds Jenson & Quick started their campaign against recently-crowned U.S. hardball and softball singles champion Julian Illingworth in the quarterfinals. Illingworth recorded his first SDA round of sixteen victory since November’s Big Apple Open with partner Hamed Anvari against locals Andrew Lumpkin & David Ramsden-Wood. Quick & Jenson knocked off the rust against Illingworth & Anvari to win 15-7, 15-11, 15-14. Continue reading