The third annual SDA Pro Tour Combine attracted two dozen prospective professionals, and exposed the experienced singles players to hardball doubles instruction and competition Sunday, June 2, at the Apawamis Club in Rye, New York.
The crop of players included current and former collegiate singles and doubles players, current and former PSA professionals and experienced U.S. teaching professionals. A group of seasoned doubles veterans led the instruction and competitive coaching, including world No. 3 James Stout, world No. 6 and Commonwealth Games doubles gold medalist Zac Alexander, National Doubles champion Steve Scharff and world No. 22 Adam Bews.
Players were divided into four teams with three partnerships per team for the round robin competition. The Stout-led black team came out on top with the partnership of Lockie Munro & Alexander Schwartz earning the most points from the field. View all results here.
“This was my first year coaching at the combine and it exceeded my expectations,” Stout said. “I was surprised by the quality of play, how quickly the players were to trust the pros and their partners–having just been paired together–and the level of sportsmanship shown by all of those involved. It was a great experience and showed me that the future of the game is in good hands. I am sure it won’t be long before Greg McArthur and I are playing these pairs in upcoming tournaments and trying to hold them at bay a little while longer.”
The combine aims to develop of healthy pipeline of new players on the SDA Pro Tour and has already seen success after the combine’s first two years. Some combine players who have climbed the rankings include world No. 15 Hameed Ahmed, world No. 25 Omar El Kashef and world No. 33 Kyle Martino, who was named the 2017-2018 rookie of the year.
“Lockie and I were lucky enough to have James Stout as our team coach,” said Schwartz, a Penn graduate and Brooklyn native. “He gave pointers on both the mental and physical aspects of doubles such as slowing and increasing pace, positioning, shot selection and critical momentum-driving points in a game. In addition his general advice was massively valuable is something I’ll definitely carry into future matches.”
Nearly half of all combine veterans have gone on to compete in SDA events the following season. Combine players also received SDA ranking points to aid their assimilation into the tour entry process.
“The instruction, SDA points, and opportunity to meet potential partners makes the combine a perfect on-ramp to next season,” Schwartz said. “In addition, you get a sense of the fun that is the SDA Pro Tour. I will definitely look to participate in SDA events next season. The combine was a both incredibly fun and educational. What’s better than a Saturday full of dubs with a great group of guys?”
The combine players will have the chance to join the SDA competition with the season-opening Maryland Club Open in September.