Adding to a his youthful picture on the walls of his childhood club, Germantown Cricket Club, Greg Park’s name is now on the Graham Company Cup for a fourth time with partner and first-time winner, Jonny Smith, in their first-ever title as partners and tenth appearance of the season together.
Smith, an English international, was fortuitously ranked ninth in February’s rankings upon entering the Graham Company Challenger—the third Challenger of the season restricted to those ranked outside the world’s top eight—before rising in March’s rankings to seven with Park also on the rise from eleven to nine.
Seeded first in the eight-team main draw, Smith and Park drew local qualifiers Edmund Garno & Alex Stait in the first round, whom the higher seeds comfortably dispatched in three games 15-5, 15-10, 15-5.
Germantown Cricket Club’s resident professional Adam Hamill also strung together a two-victory qualifying run with Shane Coleman to reach the main draw before losing out to four seeds and world No. 35 and 29 Josh Schwartz & Hamed Anvari 15-11, 15-11, 15-12. Schwartz & Anvari then provided the eventual champions with their starkest challenge of the tournament claiming the first game 15-11, before falling in four games against Smith & Park 11-15, 15-11, 15-7, 15-13.
The bottom half of the draw saw both the second and third seeds eliminated in the first round. With the completion of the college squash season, Drexel University head coach and former PSA world No. 1 John White returned to the SDA circuit with Australia’s current PSA world No. 89 Zac Alexander both in their second tour appearance of the season.
White & Alexander pulled off the upset of the tournament in the first round against two seeds Michael Ferreira & Baset Chaudry winning 15-9, 9-15, 15-10, 15-9 setting up a semifinal against John Russell & Bernardo Samper who knocked out three seeds Will Mariani & Jeff Lurie 15-8, 15-2, 15-6.
After dropping the first game, Russell & Samper recovered against White & Alexander to reach the finals with a 10-15, 15-10, 15-9, 15-13 semifinal victory. The top seeds and SDA vets Smith & Park commanded the final, however, claiming the Graham Company Cup in three 15-9, 15-11, 15-12.
Playing in front of his family on the courts where he learned the game, the Graham Company Cup and Germantown Cricket Club hold special meaning for Park—who first won the event in 2007 with Coleman, then in 2010 and 2012 with Imran Khan.
“It’s always fun to win an event back at your home,” Park said. “A lot of people in the crowd who I grew up with, especially my coach, Doug Whittaker, who runs the tournament and built that facility from two hardball courts to what it is today. It’s just a special moment to win it in front of friends, family and elders you grew up with. They grew up watching me, so it’s exciting for them to see me progress and win it as well.”
Smith & Park are enjoying their most successful season with six quarterfinal appearances, twice reaching the semifinals of larger events, perhaps their greatest achievement of reaching the North American Open final, and now their first title.
“It definitely feels great winning the Graham Company and our first title together,” Smith said. “We’ve been playing together for two years now, so over that time we’ve definitely built up more chemistry together in terms of how he likes to play and how I like to play and complement each other well.”
“Our friendship’s grown over the past two seasons,” Park Said. “It’s much smoother on the court with one another because we know the exact tendencies of the other person and know where they are without having to think about where they are. We just kind of know. So everything has gelled together very well, and we’re fortunate to have a good season.”
Smith & Park end their season at the Tavern Club Invitational in two weeks. The tour winds down with the penultimate silver event, the Hashim Khan at the Denver Athletic Club this weekend.