After laying dormant for five years, the Long Island Open returned this weekend—for the first time under the SDA aegis—with Baset Chaudhry & Whitten Morris winning an all-qualifier, all-Racquet & Tennis Club final Sunday at the Piping Rock Club.
The season’s only $10,000 Satellite event—co-hosted by Piping Rock Club and The Creek—saw both finalists progress through two rounds of qualifying before knocking out the two top seeds in the main draw.
In the top half of the draw, Racquet & Tennis Club professionals Eric Bedell & James Stout took out top seeds Shaun Johnstone & Hamed Anvari in a close four games, then held off a late comeback from Carl Baglio & Jordan Greenberg to reach the final in a five-game semifinal.
In the bottom half of the draw, Chaudhry & Morris eased to the semifinals due to a first-game injury suffered by two seed right waller Andres Vargas, forcing Vargas and Randy Lim to concede the match. In the semifinals, Chaudhry & Morris brushed off a third game loss to defeat Matt Domenick & Will Hartigan in four games to reach the final.
In the final, Chaudhry & Morris, R & T members, defeated their fellow midtowners 15-14, 15-14, 15-5.
“James and Eric were a tough team and the first two games could have easily gone the other way,” Morris said. “Baset and I focused during key points in each game and I think playing a steady game allowed us to come away with the victory.”
Morris said the R & T factor didn’t play a part with their mentality going into the final.
“When we were out on the court we were not thinking at all about whether James and Eric worked at the R & T,” Morris said. “Our only thought was they were playing high level squash and it would take out best effort to beat them. We are all friends, but obviously when on the court everyone is focused on winning on not being distracted by any other storylines that may be in play.”
Morris was making his first SDA appearance of the season, and first since the 2016 David C. Johnson Memorial in February. The veteran will represent the United States this weekend at the 2016 Can Am Cup.
“It felt great,” Morris said. “As the old guy on the court it feels good to know I an hang with the young guys still. As you get older you appreciate things more and as I see the see the window closing on being able to play at this level, I certainly savor each moment.”
Chaudhry celebrates his third SDA Tour title in addition to the 2014 Pittsburgh and R & T Challengers. The former world No. 12 and current world No. 50 missed most of last season due to occupational transitions, but is hoping to return to his former heights.
“I think Whitten and I played very consistent squash over the weekend,” Chaudhry said. “I typically play on the right wall, but with Whitten I felt very comfortable on the left. We both understand our strengths and weaknesses and stick with the game plan.”
“It’s amazing that at his age he still has the hunger and physical ability to compete at this level,” Chaudhry continued. “Personally, I’ve been training quite hard so it’s very fulfilling to see some positive results.”
The Pakistani international also saw improved performance after trialing new contact lenses.
“I did feel a difference this weekend,” Chaudhry said. “I’m quite accustomed to playing singles with them, but doubles is different. The court is bigger and the ball travels at a much faster pace so having them on definitely helped.
Chaudhry will partner with fellow Trinity graduate Bernardo Samper this weekend in the Big Apple Open as the SDA Tour shifts from Long Island to Manhattan.
Watch the final replay below.