Article and photos by Preston Quick
The Apawamis Club in Rye New York played host to the 2012 U.S. Squash Doubles Championships. Title sponsored by Hospital for Special Surgery, the event was also co-hosted at six area clubs: Round Hill Club, Westchester Country Club, Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club, Sleepy Hollow Country Club and the Country Club of New Canaan. With a total of eight doubles courts, the 280 entrants were treated to spectacular venues, with a mix of historic courts and new facilities. Tournament Chairs Tom Clayton and Peer Pedersen, along with their tournament committee, orchestrated the festivities, including the Friday night wine and cheese party, followed by a fabulous Saturday night dinner at the Apawamis Club.
The Men’s Open, which featured 24 teams, was the most competitive it has been in years, with the round of 16 matches being worthy of past years finals. Second seeded and three time U.S. Doubles Champions Trevor McGuinness and Whitten Morris, saved three match balls in their opening match to advance past Eric Vlcek and Jeff Stanley. The quarterfinals were equally impressive with six of the top eight seeds advancing. The top seeded team of Preston Quick and Greg Park dropped games three and four, but cruised in the fifth game of a two-hour match over Joe Pentland and Mark Price. In another two hour match, Steve Scharff and Phil Barker were able to erase a 2-1 deficit to win in five games over Josh Schwartz and Ahmed Anvari. Graham Bassett and Greg McArthur fell to John Russell and Dylan Patterson in four hard-fought games. The last quarterfinal saw McGuinness and Morris again flirt with defeat, stopping Jacques Swanepoel and Dent Wilkens in five close games.
The first semifinal saw Quick and Park defeat Barker and Scharff in three trouble free games. For a third straight match, the McGuinness/Morris team were pushed to five games, this time with Russell and Patterson saving a match ball in the fourth game before succumbing in the fifth. The finals featured four American players with Quick and Park jumping out to an early lead and hanging on, taking a see saw tie break, 17-16. The second game took on a different look with McGuinness and Morris controlling play before Quick and Park eased back into the game at 14 all, no set. On the ensuing point Quick was able to change the pace enough to hit a soft front side that stayed just out of reach of Morris’ racquet to give them a 2-0 lead. McGuinness and Morris saw an early lead slip away in the third as the game went to yet another overtime. Both teams traded points to reach a 2-all, set three, simultaneous game ball/match ball. During the feverish deciding point, Morris was unable to keep the ball above the tin on a hard cross-court by Quick. In what will surely go down as a most unusual score, the final was won by Quick and Park three games to love, but by just three total points, 17-16, 15-14, 16-15.
The women’s Open featured 13 teams. The quarterfinals saw one upset with No. 5 seeds Natalie Grainger and Maria Elena Ubina overpowering No. 4 seeds Dawn Gray and Amy Milanek in three games. The semifinals were each three game affairs, with top seeds and sisters Natarsha McElhinny and Narelle Krizek defeating Grainger and Ubina while Meredeth Quick and Stepahnie Hewitt were topping second seeded Dana Betts and Emily Lungstrum. The final proved to be the showcase match with last year’s champions McElhinny and Krizek taking on Quick and Hewitt. McElhinny and Krizek jumped out to an early lead in the first game, winning comfortably, 15-8, but Quick and Hewitt took the next two games, before winning the title in a fourth game tiebreak, 16-15.
The 40+ final featured three Canadians with Scott Dulmage and Rich Thompson defeating James Hewitt and Jeff Mulligan. In the Women’s 40+, 2011 Champions Kat Grant and Lissen Tutrone lost a heartbreaking final after being up two games to love and holding a match ball in the third game, to Karen Jerome and Lee Belknap. The Men’s 45+ final saw Doug Lifford and Chris Spahr narrowly defeat Ed Chilton and Andrew Slater in a five game battle.
The women’s 50+ draw saw 2011 Champs Sarah Luther and Joyce Davenport narrowly losing the final to Molly Pierce and Tracy Greer 13, (16-13), 10, (17-16), 11. Dominic Hughes teamed with Rich Sheppard to win the 50+ title, while Sandy Tierney and Sean McDonough stopped Steve Berliner and Christopher Gould to win their fourth straight 55+ title.
In the 60+ division, defending champs, John Boynton and Tim Griffin were dethroned in the final by Brian Murray and Steve McIntyre in five games while Tony Swift and Molson Robertson stopped Tom Poor and Lenny Bernheimer for the 65+ top prize.
Bart McGuire and John Osburn upset the 70+ division by taking out No. 2 seeds Mike Wilson and Larry Hall in the semifinals and then the top-seeded and two time defending champions Don Mills and Ted Marmor in five thrilling finals games. Peter Holland and Norman Seagram won their third straight 75+ title over Barry Abelson and Fred Bracher while Charlie Butt and Scott Fraser won their third 80+ title in a four-team round robin.
The host venues, tournament committee, and staff of each club did an exceptional job of hosting another memorable Doubles Championship. Next year’s event will be hosted by the Racquet Club of St. Louis.