Tag Archives: pittsburgh

Binnie & Cuskelly Celebrate Maiden SDA Title in Pittsburgh

(l-r): Ryan Cuskelly, Chris Binnie, Jim Shields, Clinton Leeuw, Omar El Kashef

PSA and Commonwealth Games softball doubles veterans Chris Binnie and Ryan Cuskelly celebrated their first hardball doubles title success on the SDA Pro Tour by capturing the Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger Sunday, January 19, in Pennsylvania.

Binnie and Cuskelly, both based in Greenwich, Connecticut, represented Jamaica and Australia, respectively, on the international softball doubles courts in numerous Commonwealth Games and WSF World Doubles Championships, and have recently started competing in its North American counterpart. Cuskelly made his pro hardball doubles debut in an ISDA-era Briggs Cup, and more recently competed in the 2018 North American Open and six events so far this season with partners including fellow Aussie PSA retiree Cameron Pilley, James Bamber and Jaymie Haycocks. Binnie made one appearance in the then ISDA Johnson in 2012, and more recently competed in the 2018 Sleepy Hollow Open and four events so far this season with partners including Chris Hanson and fellow Trinity graduate Shaun Johnstone.

Binnie & Cuskelly nearly opened up their first SDA tournament together with a loss after coming back from 2-0 down against Canadians Kelly Shannon & Robert Nigro, clinching the match on simultaneous match ball 13-15, 3-15, 15-11, 15-10, 15-14. Three tournament’s four first-round matches extended to five games, as John Roberts & Kyle Martino held off Duncan & Gavin Maxwell, while Matt Dominick & Adam Perkiomaki edged Elroy Leong & Alexander Ma 15-13 in the fifth.

Binnie & Cuskelly then rebounded with a resounding semifinal upset over top seeds Roberts–who sustained a neck injury–& Martino 15-3, 15-4, 15-9 to set up a final against two seeds Clinton Leeuw, who recorded two three-game wins to reach the final. It was the newcomers who came through in the final as Binnie & Cuskelly clinched the title 15-7, 12-15, 15-7, 15-8.

“It was definitely a fun experience to play a hardball doubles together,” Binnie said. “Obviously Ryan and I are very new to it. He’s played maybe four or five SDA events, I’ve played maybe three or so before Pittsburgh so to actually win a tournament this early on is pretty cool. During the games I think we got a little bit of luck throughout the tournament and some things fell for us, and lucily we were able to sneak out the wins. We are pretty happy overall.”

Binnie and Cuskelly have been long-time PSA training partners under the tutelage of Australian PSA legend Rodney Martin. While Binnie, world No. 87, continues to compete on the PSA tour, Cuskelly, former world No. 12, recently announced his retirement at the 2020 Tournament of Champions in New York City.

“We hang out together all the time and have trained together for  years and and we’ve played hardball doubles a couple of times,” Binnie said. “Having a good friendship can definitely help and once you play together you learn from each other and what each person likes to do on the court. We’re going to keep playing and have some fun. I’m still playing PSA and Ryan just retired so I think he’s a little more invested in doubles, which is good. So I’m sure you’ll be seeing a lot more of him and a little more of me. Either way we’re looking forward to playing another one soon.”

Roberts & West Win First SDA Title in Pittsburgh Debut

(l-r): Jim Shields, Graham Bassett, Adam Bews, Colin West, John Roberts

First-time partners John Roberts & Colin West went the distance to win their first career SDA titles at the sixth Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger in Pennsylvania.

Roberts, a Yale graduate, and West, a Harvard graduate, had a difficult first match together on the SDA tour, defeating Western Ontario graduates Ryan Herden & Mark Porter 15-9 in the fifth.

“We had a hard first match against Ryan and Mark and managed to squeak it out in five,” Roberts said. “I guess it was the first time on court together so it always takes a little time to get comfortable enough to know which balls to leave and take. As the tournament progressed, the matches were still long and tough but we got a little more comfortable with the court and each other so everything became more fluid which helped a lot.”

Roberts & West then went on to upset both of the tournament’s top seeds. In the semifinals, Roberts & West took out two seeds Clinton Leeuw & Omar El Kashef 15-12, 9-15, 15-10, 15-11. Roberts & West then dethroned top seeds Graham Bassett & Adam Bews to clinch the title 15-10, 12-15, 15-8, 15-9.

The Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger was first held in 2014.

“It’s great to win our first tournament in Pittsburgh,” Roberts said. “This is always one of my favorite events and was one of the first I started playing every year. Jim, the members and the staff do an incredible job of making the pros feel so welcome at the club and ensuring we all have a fantastic weekend. I look forward to being back again next year.”

Bassett & Bews Break Through in Pittsburgh

(l-r) Adam Bews, Omar El Kashef, Clinton Leeuw, Graham Bassett

After competing on the SDA Pro Tour since its formation in 2012, world No. 17 Adam Bews and world No. 21 Graham Bassett made their first title break through at the  2018 Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger this weekend in western Pennsylvania.

Bassett & Bews entered the eight-team draw as the top seeds, and fulfilled their seeding without dropping a game on their way to a maiden title.

Elsewhere in the draw, there were a number of five-gamers. In an all-Canadian quarterfinal, Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro outlasted Strachan Jarvis & Mark Porter, 15-9, 9-15, 15-14, 12-15, 15-12.

Two seeds Clinton Leeuw & Omar El Kashef endured two five-gamers on their way to the final, first against Kyle Martino & Adam Perkiomaki, followed by coming back from 2-1 down against Travis Judson & Aaron Luque in the semis.

In the final, it was Bassett & Bews who came out on top in a close three games 15-14, 15-11, 15-12.

“I think we were fortunate to win the final in three games,” Bassett said. “Clinton and Omar are tremendous athletes and were working me into the ground. I’m not sure how much gas I had left in the tank had it gone more than three games.”

The Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger was only Bassett & Bews’ second appearance together this season following the Westchester Country Club Pro Doubles in November.

“Being the top seed in the event was a different experience for us but I think it gave us more confidence,” Bews said. “It was one of those weekends where we were both seeing the ball really well and felt very comfortable on court. We played good steady doubles and didn’t make many errors all weekend.”

Last month, Bews reached the semifinals of the Briggs Cup with Will Hartigan. Bassett enjoyed a semifinal run last weekend in Delaware with Jordan Greenberg.

“We played really well together in the Westchester event earlier this season, and I feel like we continued that good chemistry in Pittsburgh,” Bassett said. “I think we were fortunate to face three teams that called for a similar game plan. Adam is a tough competitor, and has been having a great season on tour. He was steady the whole time and delivered some big winners at crucial times.”

Both players celebrate their first career SDA Tour title.

(l-r) Graham Bassett, Adam Bews, Jim Shields, Omar El Kashef, Clinton Leeuw

 

“It’s a great feeling,” Bews said. “It’s an awesome way to start 2018 and helps continue a good season for me personally, I don’t think it has really sunk in yet.”

“I have been working in some capacity with the SDA since we transitioned from the ISDA in 2012,” said Bassett, the SDA Tour Director. “I think my role as a player has always taken a backseat to the administrator role, and it’s been a struggle to balance the two. After attending so many events and working hard behind the scenes, it’s really special to finally win one. With the big Eagles win last night, I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday. I live in Boston, so I’ll be happily spending the next two weeks behind enemy lines.”

The Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger is in its fifth year since its founding in 2014.

“Pittsburgh is a phenomenal little event,” Bassett said. “It is a very warm and welcoming squash community. The players are looked after very well, and they pack the stands to the rafters. I’d like to thank Jim Shields, David Hillman and all the sponsors and patrons from the Pittsburgh Golf Club for their generous support year after year.”

“I always love going to Pittsburgh to play,” Bews said. “That was my third year in a row. The members are very welcoming, Jim does such a great job looking after the pros and organizing the event. Every year the crowd continues to grow and the pro am gets better and better. I am looking forward to coming back next season.”

The SDA Tour heats back up this weekend in Greenwich, Connecticut, with the final Diamond event of the season—the Chilton Investments North American Open, January 26-29.

View images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch match replays below.

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Chaudhry Signs Off for the Season With Second Pittsburgh Title

sda pitt crop
l-r: Jim Shields, Jonny Smith, Baset Chaudhry, Greg Park, Raj Nanda

World No. 16 Baset Chaudhry signed off his 2016-2017 SDA Pro tour campaign with his third title of the season, and second title at the $15,000  Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger with first-time partner Jonny Smith.

The Trinity graduates entered the main draw seeded second, and pulled off a perfect tournament without dropping a game, including a three-game victory against top seeds Raj Nanda & Greg Park in the final.

Chaudhry praised his first-time partner and world No. 10, Smith, for a strong performance over the weekend.

“This was our first SDA tournament together, I was finally able to persuade Jonny to partner up with me,” Chaudhry said of his partner, Smith.  “I think the key over the weekend was that we kept our intensity up through every single point. We wanted to play aggressive steady squash and I think we were able to execute that quite nicely. Like any other sport, doubles squash is all about momentum and confidence. Our plan was to get to a solid start right from the beginning of the tournament and carry it through till the end of the weekend, and luckily we were able to achieve that.”

Pittsburgh marks Chaudhry’s final tournament of the season before the thirty-one-year-old returns to his native Pakistan, but revealed his desire to represent his home country in the recently-announced 2017 World Doubles this September in St. Louis.

“This was my last SDA tournament for the season,” Chaudhry said. “As many of you know, I’m heading back to Pakistan for a few months for personal reasons, but I will be back in the summer and would definitely like to compete in the world open later this year. We don’t have hardball there so will have to figure out a way to stay sharp. It’s remarkable to see the tour grow over the past few years. The addition of new events and live streaming has been very refreshing and I believe with continued support of the patrons, sponsors and the squash community, it will only get better.”

“It was great to play with Baset and even sweeter to win in his last tournament before he heads back to Pakistan, he will be missed in the U.S. squash circles,” Smith said.

Chaudhry won his first Pittsburgh title in 2014 with Nanda, and adds Pittsburgh to his Missouri Athletic Club Open and Long Island Open titles this season.

“Pittsburgh has been really kind to me for sure,” Chaudhry said. “This was my second time here and both times I have been lucky enough to clinch the title. I guess I just need to keep coming back each year.”

“The Pittsburgh doubles community was very hospitable,” Chaudhry said of the hosts. “A lot of the members had offered their residences to the players and made sure we were well taken care of, so can’t thank them enough for their support. The crowd was very enthusiastic and knowledgeable, which makes it even more fun for the players. Thanks again to Jim Shields for running such an amazing event.”

Jenson & Swanepoel Pull Through in Pittsburgh

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(l-r): John Roberts, Jacques Swanepoel, Graham Bassett, Matt Jenson.

Playing in just their second tournament together over the span of three years, Matt Jenson & Jacques Swanepoel dropped only one game on their way to the $15,000 2016 Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger title this weekend at the Pittsburgh Golf Club in western Pennsylvania.

Leading up to this weekend, Jenson, world No. 21, and Swanepoel, world No. 35, played in just one match together—a five-game first-round loss in the 2013 Maryland Club Open.

Their fortunes were much different in their second run together beginning with their opening three-game victory over Adam Bews & Jordan Greenberg.

Their only game lost came in the first against Canadians Fred Reid & Justin Todd, to which they responded by winning the match in four to reach the final.

Finalists and top seeds Graham Bassett & John Roberts had defeated locals David Edwards & Alex Reynolds in three games, but had to recover from 2-1 down in the semifinals to defeat Carl Baglio & Travis Judson in five games to reach the final.

Their five-game semifinal perhaps played a part in the final result, as Jenson & Swanepoel prevailed 15-12, 15-10, 15-10.

“Our teamwork, angles and communication helped us through the event,” Jenson said. “It’s a fast court out there, but it plays very true.”

The title is Jenson’s first since the 2014 Hashim Khan in his home base of Denver, and Swanepoel’ss first career full ranking title.

“Jacques is a quality squash player and a quality person so it makes for good team chemistry,” Jenson said of his partner. “I really thought we played as a strong, well-balanced team.”

Pittsburgh played host to the tournament for the third year, enjoying support from a growing base of doubles enthusiasts.

“The Pittsburgh Golf Club is very keen, they watched eagerly and asked a lot of question,” Jenson said of the hosts. “They’re a fun group of members. I would also like to say thanks and congratulations to Kristy and Jim for all their efforts. I know all the pros felt very welcomed and the club’s hospitality was second to none.”

Watch the final replay below.