SDA Tour Returns With Familiar Champions Mathur & Callis

l-r: Chris Callis, Manek Mathur, Greg McArthur, Zac Alexander

The SDA Pro Tour returned with its first event since March 2020—the St. Louis Open—with familiar champions Manek Mathur & Chris Callis claiming the first title of the new season Saturday, October 2, at the Racuet Club of St. Louis.

The season opened up with two competitive five-game first round matches. Jamie Haycocks & Ricardo Lopez Valdivia edged Jordan Brail & Chris Walker 15-12, 8-15, 15-4, 13-15, 15-6, and local pro Mike Puertas & Nathan Dugan held off Rafik Bhaloo & Oscar Lopez Hidalgo 9-15, 15-12, 15-12, 9-15, 15-9.

The quarterfinals brought the top four seeds into action and saw all of four teams safely progress to Saturday, which fielded both the semifinals in the early afternoon and ensuing final Saturday night.

Top seeds Mathur & Callis dispatched Adam Bews & Eric Bedel 15-7, 15-12, 15-8 to reach the final, while two seeds Zac Alexander & Greg McArthur overcame a tough challenge from Canadians Joshua Hollings & Matthew Henderson 15-13, 15-10, 15-13.

In Saturday night’s final, it was defending champion McArthur and Alexander who earned an early advantage, taking the first game 15-13 and then narrowly dropping the second game 15-13. Mathur & Callis then stepped up to clinch the title 15-5, 15-8.

“We knew we were in for a tough match, and those guys came out so accurate and precise in the first game,” Callis said. “We knew that if we could get the pace back up and make it a more dynamic, long game that we would have a great shot. Luckily we were able to fight hard, build momentum, and gain confidence as the match went along. Also have to shout out Manek for stepping up and setting the tone all weekend. He always makes my life a lot easier out on court and he stepped up in a big way after over a year and a half since our last event!

“I think we started a little bit on our heels and sluggish from the long day and previous matches,” Mathur said. “They came out with their game plan and hit their zones well, took us a bit to get going and find our zones again. They’re a good team, we were ready for a long match and no surprises that they won the first, they could have won the 2nd too! My partner Chris was an absolute star as always. We both didn’t know what to expect for our first one back but Chris showed up to the event like he didn’t miss a beat. He gave me so much confidence to be out there to do my thing, that I am so grateful we have each other to work through this season.

Mathur & Callis won all five events that they competed in during the 2019-2020 season and pick up where they left off with their partnership’s first title in St. Louis, and Mathur’s second following his 2016 win with Damien Mudge. Mathur and Callis both emphasized the positive atmosphere of the SDA Tour’s return.

“I can speak on behalf of all the guys that we missed the camaraderie we share on the court but we took the off court stuff with each other, events and sponsors for granted,” Mathur said. “The tour is such a special environment where you really get to know people at these sites and it was amazing to see so many familiar faces in STL. Can’t wait to reconnect with all the locations on tour as well.  Big thanks to Mike Puertas and the entire STL RC squash community for putting on the first event of the season. They treat us like members and we really do have such a blast out there!”

“It was truly amazing to be back, we both missed it so much,” Callis said. “Both competing and spending time with such an incredible group of players and friends at the club. We’re obviously close with all the other players, but we’ve also gotten to know many members really well over years of coming to St Louis. Meant the world to us to have them be the first ones back on the calendar. Mike Puertas deserves serious kudos for putting on such an amazing event. These things are hard enough to put together, but then you add a pandemic on top of it and it’s amazing how he didn’t miss a beat. It’s such a great club full of so many amazing members.”

SDA Update – May 2021

The anticipated schedule for the 2021-22 SDA Pro Tour is now available online. This is an exciting milestone as we build back towards a full tour in the coming season. However, please be aware that there may be changes and additions to this schedule due to the fluid nature of planning for host facilities and the SDA as we emerge from the pandemic. Over the coming months, updates to the calendar will be communicated to players via the SDA website and email.

Currently, we remain hopeful that we will also be able to restart rankings after the first event, and that borders will be more open in the fall for those traveling from Canada or elsewhere.

Lastly, we will host another player zoom call this Thursday at 1pm EST.  Hope to see you all then, and thank you as always for your engagement as we move towards the restart of the tour.

SDA Update – April 2021

With the country showing positive momentum in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the pathway back to professional doubles is becoming increasingly clear.

While we wish we could host events in the near term, at this time we are unable to confidently schedule full ranking events in the spring or summer, with planning further complicated by travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada. Possibilities remain for the hosting of a limited number of invitationals and exhibitions over the coming months as a way to re-engage players and fans; the SDA support staff will help coordinate participants, coverage and streaming whenever possible.

Looking to the fall, the SDA is planning for a return to a full 2021-2022 season, with rankings also resuming at the start of the season. There are nearly ten events currently penciled in, with a potential opportunity for a kick-off at the Arlen Specter US Squash Center in Philadelphia with the first-ever blue doubles courts built specifically to optimize video production (image below). We will share the 2021-2022 calendar with you as soon as possible, once the schedule takes shape and more events are confirmed.

Please keep a look out for communications scheduling another player Zoom call, as we stay in touch with our players on a more regular basis through the start of next season.

Lastly, we are using this forced break from competition to re-evaluate the structure of SDA dues, including a change to a fiscal year membership instead of the previous rolling 12 month membership.  To aid in the transition, more payment options will be offered including 50% at the beginning of the season and 50% in 2022, as well as a half-price option for those joining after March 1, 2022.

We wish good health to all of you and those close to you, and we cannot wait to see many of you back on court soon. As always, we appreciate your understanding and flexibility as we make our way out of the unimaginable difficulties of the past year.


Squash Cancer Exhibition

Four SDA pros are joining the fight against cancer Sunday, October 25 at 6pm ET. Eric Bedell and Yvain Badan will take on James Stout & Greg McArthur in an exhibition streamed on SDA Live. The New York and Connecticut based SDA stars are joining squash pros and amateurs from all over the world as part of the Go Live to Squash Cancer event benefiting the Norris Cotton Cancer Center. Participants, including WSDA pros, PSA pros Amanda Sobhy, Olivia Fiechter, and Chris Hanson as well as other squash players and enthusiasts, have committed to fundraise and stream squash (or squash-related activities) in safe environments. More information on the event can be found here. To support Bedell, Badan, Stout and McArthur’s efforts, please click here to donate.