One of the youngest teams on the SDA Tour, Bobby Burns & Eric Bedell, upset the 2018 Hashim Khan seeding to claim their first career SDA title this weekend at the Denver Athletic Club, while local Meredeth Quick successfully defended her WSDA title with fellow Coloradan Suzie Pierrepont.
The SDA Challenger eight-team main draw saw the return of two retired pros and former partners Matt Jenson and Denver local Preston Quick. Jenson progressed through the top half of the draw with Greg Park as top seeds, while Quick & Graham Bassett upset two seeds Will Mariani & James Bamber in the first round.
Burns & Bedell, who played together at Bates, began their surprise SDA title run with a first-round upset against three seeds Clinton Leeuw & Aaron Luque, coming back from losing the first game to advance in four.
Burns & Bedell then edged Bassett & Quick in the semifinals, sneaking out all three games on simultaneous game balls to reach the final 15-14, 15-14, 15-14.
In the final, Jenson & Park took a 2-1 advantage 15-12, 8-15, 15-14, when Burns & Bedell completely turned the final on its head, dominating the fourth and fifth games 15-16, 15-6.
“To win our first SDA title feels fantastic, absolutely fantastic,” Bedell said. “This is the culmination of all the hard work, determination, and heart that we put into this sport. We approached each match with the focus of playing to our strengths, fighting for every rally, and trusting each other. Our abilities to extend rallies, pressure our opponents, and improvise allowed us to capitalize on attacking opportunities throughout the weekend. It is a great feeling to see our preparation pay off!”
“I couldn’t be happier,” Burns said. “Obviously, the goal is to win every match you play but it’s hard to envision winning tournaments. We were fortunate that it all came together this past weekend and the result makes me want to do it again.”
Since first playing in an SDA event together in 2014, Bedell—twenty-six years old—& Burns—twenty-eight years old—have learned from SDA veterans such as Jenson and Quick.
“Both those players have accomplished so much in their careers, it’s hard to quantify everything they bring to the table as opponents,” Burns said. “Personally, I love watching Matt play squash. As a right-handed left-waller, I’m not as tall as Mudgie or as fast as Bernardo and don’t shoot as well as John Russell, so Matt was someone I studied to learn a lot from. His racquet prep and positioning are consistent and aggressive—that, coupled with a dynamic shot selection makes him a very dangerous player. Preston strikes such a clean ball but the take away playing against him, is his on-court attitude. He competes so hard but appears to have a collected, mindful presence at all times. Both players have had exceptional careers. I am happy to see both on tour when their time allows for it.”
“For me personally, it was a pleasure to share the court with both Matt and Preston,” Bedell said. “I actually try to model some of my game after each of their play styles. Preston’s movement, positioning and shot selection on the right wall are superb. He always positions himself in the right place at the right time and effortlessly moves the ball around the court. As for Matt, I am in awe of his precision into the front of the court. His racquet preparation and technique allow him to fire the ball in with pinpoint accuracy. Even if you read the shot, it seems to be up to him if you will be able to get it.”
After playing together in college, Bedell & Burns honed their squash doubles game while stationed at their home club, the Heights Casino, in Brooklyn.
“Eric and I played our first pro tournament together, I think four years ago at the NAO,” Burns said. “We played opposite walls in that match. Needless to say, we have both worked hard at our games since then. While we had confidence in each other’s abilities, I think the best thing from the weekend was our communication. I think having more of a history, allowed us to self-assess accurately and play without fear or doubt. There is a lot of natural trust between us and it makes playing doubles squash really really fun.”
“While I thoroughly enjoyed playing alongside Bobby this weekend, it’s even greater to have him as a friend,” Bedell said. “I am very grateful to have not only grown professionally on the court with him but also personally off the court. We have been great friends since we met at Bates and that makes it so much more fun to be on court with him. Our first doubles partnership was actually a few years ago when we paired up for the North American Open, albeit with myself on the left wall and Bobby on the right wall. It certainly did not go as well as this past weekend. I think we may have found the better arrangement.”
The WSDA draw saw locals Meredeth Quick & Suzie Pierrepont fulfill their top seeding. The result marked Quick’s third consecutive title in Denver having won the 2017 National Doubles and 2016 Hashim Khan with Natarsha McElhinny. Quick & Pierrepont endured a difficult final against two seeds and recently-crowned National Doubles champions Stephanie Hewitt & Georgina Stoker, prevailing 15-11, 8-15, 10-15, 15-10, 15-8.
“Thank you to John and Anne Lesko at the Denver Athletic Club for hosting and running a great event and to Graham Bassett for organizing the SDA’s operations,” Bedell said. “I look forward to playing in Denver again!”
“I want to thank Anne Lesko and the Denver Athletic Club,” Burns said. “They do an incredible job with the entire tournament. I think there were more than ten divisions competing this past weekend. It’s always great to be part of a large scale event. Graham Bassett also deserves a ton of credit for all the work he does everyday for the tour.”
View images on the SDA Smugmug page. Watch SDA and WSDA match replays below.