US SQUASH

Smith & Badan Reunite to Triumph in Delaware

The 2018 Delaware Pro Doubles final, (l-r): Greg Park, Yvain Badan, Jonny Smith, Will Mariani)

The 2018 Delaware Pro Doubles draw was stirring before it even began. Shortly before the tournament began, John Russell was forced to withdraw from his top seeded partnership with Chris Callis due to injury, with Jonny Smith stepping in to replace his fellow Englishman. Shortly thereafter, Callis sustained an injury and was forced to withdraw, which saw Yvain Badan step in to rekindle his former partnership with Smith as the top seeds at Wilmington Country Club.

Smith & Badan made it seem as though they had been playing together all along with a decisive three-game victory in the first round to set up a semifinal against Canada’s Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro. After a narrow five-game loss in Boston, Hamilton & Nigro once again faced match balls in the first round Bobby Burns & Hamed Anvari, but this time fighting them off to win the tournament’s only five-gamer 13-15, 15-10, 12-15, 15-14, 15-12.

The Canadians took an early advantage against the top seeds by winning the first game 15-11, before Smith & Badan regained control to advance to the final in four games.

In the final against two seeds Will Mariani & Greg Park, Smith & Badan controlled a close match to claim the title 15-6, 15-12, 15-13.

“After the first game drew out in the semis, we did a good job not panicking and getting back to and executing our game plan,” Badan said. “The final was a three love score, but it was much closer than the score suggests. There were long rallies, but we had out strategy in place. We found our way to control the match, but we knew we had to be patient.”

The SDA Silver title marks the largest in Smith’s career, and is Badan’s first since the 2016 PDC Cup.

“Unfortunately there are quite a few injuries on the tour at the minute, hence a few partner changes, but in the end I was extremely happy to be playing with Swiss.” Smith said. “Obviously we know each others games very well which enhanced our team chemistry and to win the tournament was great; tournament wins aren’t easy to come by, this was the biggest so far in my career!”

(l-r) Yvain Badan, Jonny Smith, Ed Chilton, Will Mariani, Greg Park

Smith & Badan had previously reached the Delaware final in 2011.

“Jonny and I used to play together a few years back,” Badan said. “He asked me to step in after the injuries so I was excited. We’ve known each other a long time, he was a senior at Trinity when I was a freshman so our friendship goes all the way back to 2002. He’s someone everyone enjoys and respects. It felt pretty comfortable, I was amazed how quickly we got used to each other and remembered how to play together. I’m grateful to win a tournament on this competitive tour, and especially to do it with Jonny given our history together.”

The Delaware Pro Doubles returns to the tour after a brief hiatus. The tournament was first held in 1995. Wilmington also hosts the annual U.S. Junior Doubles Championships.

“It was great to have a SDA event back again at the Wilmington Country Club, where historically the doubles community has always been very strong and knowledgeable,” Smith said.

“It’s a very nice group of people in Wilmington and was great to go back there,” Badan said. “Everyone really enjoys Ed Chilton, who runs the program there where the community appreciates the high level of squash doubles. The players were all glad to see the event back on the calendar.”

View Delaware Pro Doubles images on the SDA SmugMug Page.

Watch Delaware Pro Doubles match replays below.

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