2017 PDC Invitational

The 15th Piedmont Driving Club Singles and Doubles Squash Invitational Tournament was held on March 16 and 17th, 2017. The tournament was well organized and ran very smoothly, thanks to the efforts of the PDC staff and their Head Squash Pro, Ahmed Hamza.

Play comprised both singles and doubles, a treat for many competitors, as the Driving Club hosts the only doubles courts in the state of Georgia and region. Double players ranged from novices to those who have travelled the pro circuit honing their skills.

As seems to be the case in so many tournaments, much of the interest was in not just those that we’ve known for so many years as great players, but those that we now are seeing develop for the first time, and those not only developing but now rocketing through the ranks. By that we mean our Junior crowd. Junior squash in the Southeastern District is no longer solely about Westminster, as Master Graham Roberts of Lovett successfully took both the 2.5 and 3.0 brackets, holding off Mohammed Abbas and Robby Foust.

Allie Woods narrowly defeated Dallas Clement in the Ladies 2.5 bracket– it couldn’t have been closer: 11-9,11-9,12-14,9-11,11-9! Douglas Nichols defeated Zack Hay in the 4.5 finals, and also took the 5.0 finals against the ever-talented and tenacious Adrian Cronje. One of the standouts is Vishan Patel, who, on his way to the 5.5 championship, defeated Richard Millman and Aaron Luque, vanquishing both deception and power in a single division. All these tournaments matches were terrific to watch and the level of play says so much for the future of Junior squash in Atlanta and the region.

Perhaps the most entertaining backstory of an unlikely outcome arises from two 8th grade gentlemen, Mr. Eric Wang and Alex Rankin. You may recall reading about Eric in these pages before. Eric recently won the 4.0 division at the Muffley Skill Level championships. An eighth grader at Westminster, he has been accepted to Andover where he hopes to play squash. Alex Rankin is a remarkable young man who is so composed yet moves faster than one would ever guess and executes shots with consistent skill. For both of these players, these comments only applied only to the singles court — until the Invitational.

Enter the PDC doubles tournament, where Mr. Rankin and Mr. Wang decided to try to play their very first doubles games. The Sunday before the tournament they stopped off at the Driving Club for a quick hour lesson with Head Squash Pro Ahmed Hamza. Mr. Hamza graciously explained to them where to stand, when to move, and the basics of the game: “Lob it to the back, and when they are stuck, drop it to the front.” Then he left it up to them.

Something must be said about quick learners, not just in the classroom but on the athletic court. Not only did Mr. Mr. Rankin and Mr. Wang follow Mr. Hamza’s advice, they took it to the next level, defeating everyone in the “C” bracket, including those who are not only more athletically experienced but quite a bit larger. It was amazing to watch and should be noted as a memorable C final. Please take the time to read Alex’ excellent writeup here.

Perhaps the most exciting final was the matchup between John Woodhams/Jay Weaver versus Aaron Luque/Justin Mather for the Men’s Open Division Doubles. The Piedmont Driving Club hosts the PDC Cup, a Squash Doubles Association pro event held each November. The level of play at the Squash Doubles Association was hardly better than the display of skill, effort and artistry put on by these four men. Aaron, known for his power forehand, kept the ball steadily moving, while Justin used his touch and deception to keep Woodhams and Hatcher constantly off-balance. Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the relentless retrieving and pounding to the back by Woodhams and Hatcher, coupled with their exquisite sense of timing and execution resulted in their 3-2 victory.

The Driving Club capped this intense weekend of focused athleticism with a most cordial and elegant banquet with live music and dancing. The evening ended with good words, good feelings, many champions, and plenty of players waiting to return for the 2018 Invitational. See you next year!

Full results below, with tournament draws here:

Men 2.5

Winner Graham Roberts

Runner Up Mohamed Abbas

 

Men 3.0

Winner Graham Roberts

Runner up Robby Foust

 

Men 3.5

Winner Roberto Ruiz

Runner up Morgan Purvis

 

Men 4.0

Winner George Read

Runner Up Bo Keatley

 

Men 4.5

Winner Douglas Nichols

Runner up Zach Hay

 

Men 5.0

Winner Douglas Nichols

Runner Up Chris Singerman

 

Men 5.5

Winner Vishan Patel

Runner Up Aaron Luque

 

Women 2.5

Winner Lara Jones

Runner up Brooke Stevens

Mens A Doubles

 Winners:

Matt Calamari / John Hatcher

Runner up:

Brad Ferguson / John Woodhams

 

Mens B Doubles

 Winners:

Sawyer Duncan / Hafeez Fazal

Runner up:

Hugh Hailey / Bob Burton

 

Mens C Doubles

 Winners:

Alex Rankin / Erik Wang

Runner up:

Brad Roberts / Neill Wright

 

Mixed Doubles

 Winners:

Eben Hardie / Kacy Hardie

Runner up:

Anne Knutson / Neill Wright

 

50+ Doubles

 Winners:

Mauricio Bocanegra / Fernando Puron

Runner up:

David Bridges / Erik Granade

 

Century Open

 Winners:

Eben Hardie / David Rosen

Runner up:

Ahmed Hamza / Alladin Mitha

 

Open Doubles

 Winners:

John Hatcher / John Woodhams

Runner up:

Aaron Luque / Justin Mather