England claimed two of the three titles on offer – for the second time in a row – when Clive Leach & John Russell and Suzie Pierrepont & Georgina Stoker struck gold in the Men’s and Women’s events, respectively, in the Stifel World Hardball Doubles Squash Championships in St Louis in the US state of Missouri.
There was home success earlier in the day when sixth-seeded US pairing Natalie Grainger & Christopher Callis triumphed in the Mixed championship.
Despite being the title-holders, Leach & Russell were the fourth seeds – but made their breakthrough in the semi-finals where they despatched No.1 seeds Michael Ferreira & Jonny Smith
The established English duo – appearing in the final for the fourth time in five years – took a two-game lead against their younger Canadian opponents Thomas Brinkman & Robin Clarke. The unseeded pair (pictured below in final action, in white shorts) soon drew level to force a decider – but it was the seasoned English pair, aged 43 and 38, who reached match-ball first at 14-12.
After two match-balls were saved, it was sudden death at 14-all. With Leach pressuring Brinkman to hit the ball back to himself and give away a stroke, it was the English duo who retained their title 15-10, 15-10, 3-15, 7-15, 15-14.
“I got sucked into hitting aimlessly across court and lost the battle with Thomas in the middle but then got back to the plan of mixing height with width and some down the middle to try and force an error,” said Russell later. “It worked but it was close!”
Women’s favourites Narelle Krizek & Natarsha McElhinny, the Australian sisters formerly known as Narelle and Natarsha Tippett, duly reached the final – but the title remained in English hands.
It was a joyful climax for second seeds Suzie Pierrepont & Georgina Stoker who competed in the 2015 final – on opposite sides of the court. After dropping the first game, the England pair stormed back to take the title 12-15, 15-11, 15-3, 15-7 – marking a successful defence for 2015 champion Pierrepont.
“I lost to Suzie in the final two years ago in the final,” said Stoker (pictured above at the trophy presentations). “So it was really great to have won with her this time. I was so nervous for the first game and could hardly hit it he ball, but after we won the second I settled in and we came out firing in the third and fourth.”
Seasoned hardball doubles campaigner Natalie Grainger, the 40-year-old former world No.1, was partnered by 28-year-old Christopher Callis in the Mixed final. The USA pair had already accounted for the No.4 seeds in the first round and now faced third-seeded Canadians Stephanie Hewitt & Viktor Berg.
After taking the opening game, Grainger and Callis fell 2/1 behind – then had to save three match-balls in the fourth to force a decider. But experience shone through as the home duo marched on to win 15-9, 10-15, 11-15, 15-14, 15-7.
“We knew we had to be on high alert with Viktor on the court as he is so dangerous,” said Grainger (pictured above at the presentations). “We had to up the pace and add variety – we are so pleased to have got the win.”
 Clive Leach & John Russell (ENG) bt Thomas Brinkman & Robin Clarke (CAN) 15-10, 15-10, 3-15, 7-15, 15-14
 Suzie Pierrepont & Georgina Stoker (ENG) bt  Narelle Krizek & Natarsha McElhinny (AUS) 12-15, 15-11, 15-3, 15-7
 Natalie Grainger & Christopher Callis (USA) bt  Tina Rix & John Russell (ENG) 15-8, 15-8, 15-4
 Stephanie Hewitt & Viktor Berg (CAN) bt  Suzie Pierrepont & James Stout (ENG) 11-15, 7-11, 15-11, 15-14, 15-13
 Natalie Grainger & Christopher Callis (USA) bt  Stephanie Hewitt & Viktor Berg (CAN) 15-9, 10-15, 11-15, 15-14, 15-7
For more details, visit www.worlddoubles.com
The top four men’s seeds safely negotiated their first hurdles in the Stifel World Hardball Doubles Squash Championships in St Louis in the US state of Missouri.
No.1 seeds Michael Ferreira & Jonny Smith – bidding to win the title for the first time while keeping the trophy in English hands – saw off their second round opponents in straight games, beating US pair Hameed Ahmed & Adam Perkiomaki 15-10, 15-5, 15-10 (both pairs pictured in action below).
The favourites will now meet fifth seeds Viktor Berg & Justin Todd in the quarter-finals after the Canadian duo also despatched a USA pair Tony Brettkelly & Ray Lindsay in a 15-7, 15-4, 15-8 scoreline.
Boosted by a rise in seeding to fourth position after the late withdrawal of second-seeded Indians Manek Mathur & Parth Sharma, defending champions Clive Leach & John Russell saw off South Africans Clinton Leeuw & Jacques Swanepoel 15-14, 15-7, 15-10 to claim a place in the last eight.
New York-based Leach, a 43-year-old former European Junior Championship finalist from Birmingham in England, is bidding to reach the final for the fifth time in a row.
For a place in the semi-finals, Leach & Russell will line up against Hamed Anvari & Julian Illingworth, a record nine-time US national singles champion. The unseeded US pair upset sixth-seeded Canadians Will Mariani & Freddie Reid15-9, 15-14, 15-9.
Men’s First Round:
Hameed Ahmed & Adam Perkiomaki (USA) bt Ryan Abraham & Mandela Patrick (TRI) 15-4, 15-5, 15-6
Tony Brettkelly & Ray Lindsay (USA) bt Neil Martin & Joseph Roberts (IRL) w/o
Hamed Anvari & Julian Illingworth (USA) bt Iago Cornes & Michael Puertas (USA) 15-9, 15-10, 15-7
Adam Bews & Greg McArthur (SCO) bt Mark Heather & Alex Ingham (ENG) 15-6, 15-6, 11-15, 15-9
 Michael Ferreira & Jonny Smith (ENG) bt Hameed Ahmed & Adam Perkiomaki (USA) 15-10, 15-5, 15-10
 Viktor Berg & Justin Todd (CAN) bt Tony Brettkelly & Ray Lindsay (USA) 15-7, 15-4, 15-8
Hamed Anvari & Julian Illingworth (USA) bt  Will Mariani & Freddie Reid (CAN) 15-9, 15-14, 15-9
 Clive Leach & John Russell (ENG) bt Clinton Leeuw & Jacques Swanepoel (RSA) 15-14, 15-7, 15-10
 Christopher Callis & Greg Park (USA) bt Graham Bassett & Jordan Greenberg (USA) 15-14, 12-15, 12-15, 15-13, 15-10
Thomas Brinkman & Robin Clarke (CAN) bt  Bobby Burns & Ed Garno (USA) 15-9, 15-8, 9-15, 14-15, 15-10
James Bamber & Alex Stait (ENG) bt  Imran Khan Riaz & Aaron Luque (USA) 15-8, 15-11, 13-15, 15-5
 Scott Arnold & Matt Jenson (AUS) bt Adam Bews & Greg McArthur (SCO) 15-10, 15-6, 10-15, 15-13
For live coverage and streaming, visit www.worlddoubles.com/live/
Following a series of meetings between the International Federation, led by President Jacques Fontaine and Chief Executive Andrew Shelley, and the PSA, led by Chief Executive Alex Gough, both organisations have agreed to tackle the sport’s future in a united and cohesive manner – by means of a unity that will lead to greater support for and interaction between all levels of the sport.
Central to the partnership will be the development of a global strategy, focusing on objectives such as, securing a place on the Olympic Games programme; maintaining squash’s presence on other international multi-sport games programmes; growing participation levels around the world; and encouraging the development of court facilities in conjunction with centres, local associations and national federations.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with the PSA which we have now signed, that will see both organisations work side-by-side throughout the coming years to help squash achieve greater visibility and profile around the world. This was a key objective for me since my election as WSF President last November,” said WSF President Jacques Fontaine.
“It is vital for the future of the sport that the governing body of the professional game and the international federation representing the nations and their players, coaches and referees, work in unison towards joint objectives that will ultimately help ensure squash continues to expand its global profile. The ability to plan for our future together, developing clear roles and responsibilities for the PSA, WSF and other key stakeholders within the sport, is an exciting moment for squash and we look forward to a very bright future working together.”
PSA Chief Executive Alex Gough said: “Our ambition, aligned with that of the WSF, is to create a more stable and successful platform from which to market squash around the world.
“Creating a unified refereeing structure, expanding squash’s commercial profile and improving working relationships with all stakeholders are key to the future success of squash and we are pleased to begin a new working relationship with the WSF.
“The Professional Tour has made enormous strides in recent years and we hope to continue that growth, while at the same time helping grow the sport at a grass roots level. We have been hugely encouraged in all our conversations with the WSF and are excited to begin a new era of greater cohesion.”
World Squash Federation Vice President Pablo Serna led a delegation representing Squash in the Pan American region at a meeting with the Organising Committee of the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires at which the sport’s debut in the event was formalised.
The first meeting to discuss the logistics and presentation of Squash as a showcase sport at the Games in October next year took place at the Argentine Olympic Committee offices in Buenos Aires.
Squash will be presented at Tecnololis, the venue where Badminton, Futsal and Table Tennis will be played.
“It is an exciting moment for squash and our young players who will represent our sport in Buenos Aires,” said VP Serna after the meeting. “We are very grateful to the YOG18 Organising Committee for including Squash in their Games and they can be certain that we will make sure we do them proud.”
The event days for squash, the format and other general arrangement and presentation details, will be decided at follow up meetings, where WSF will be liaising with the hosts in conjunction with the Argentinean Squash Federation.
Pablo Serna is pictured above (2nd from right) with (L to R) Andres Nieto, President South American Squash Federation; Federico Serna, President Pan American Squash Federation, & Juan Pablo Garcia, President Argentinian Squash Federation.
The three World Hardball Doubles Squash Championships titles will change hands according to the seedings and draws revealed today for the 2017 event which will be held in St Louis, in the US state of Missouri, from 21-24 September.
The 12th edition of the biennial championships, featuring Men’s, Women’s and Mixed events and organised by the Squash Doubles Association (SDA) and Women’s Squash Doubles Association (WSDA) Pro Tours under the auspices of the WSF will take place at the Racquet Club of St Louis and Missouri Athletic Club.
Englishmen Michael Ferreira & Jonny Smith are seeded to win the men’s title for the first time – yet keep the trophy in English hands, after the 2015 success by Clive Leach & John Russell. The pair is expected to line up against sixth-seeded Canadians Viktor Berg & Justin Todd in the quarter-finals, en-route to a final clash with Indians Manek Mathur & Parth Sharma, the second seeds.
Meanwhile, No.5 seeds Leach and Russell – finalists in 2009, 2011 and 2013 before winning the title for the first time in 2015 – are expected to do battle with home pair Christopher Callis & Greg Park, the fourth seeds, for a place in the semi-finals.
Natarsha McElhinny is expected to provide Australian success in both the Women’s and Mixed championships. The former Natarsha Tippett pairs up with her younger sister Narelle Krizek in the women’s event where the 2011 runners-up are predicted to face England’s Suzie Pierrepont & Tina Rix in the final. Pierrepont won the 2015 title with compatriot Carrie Hastings (pictured below during the 2015 final).
Natarsha partners Scott Arnold in the mixed event where the Australians are expected to emulate the success of compatriots Narelle Krizek & Paul Price in the 2013 championships.
But it is Narelle’s sister Narelle who is expected to be on the other side of the court in the mixed final where she and Matt Jenson are the No.2 seeds. The reigning champions from Canada, Stephanie Hewitt & Viktor Berg, are third seeds in St Louis.
Predicted quarter-final line-ups, according to the draws and seedings:
 Michael Ferreira & Jonny Smith (ENG) v  Viktor Berg & Justin Todd (CAN)
 Scott Arnold & Matt Jenson (AUS) v  Will Mariani & Freddie Reid (CAN)
 Christopher Callis & Greg Park (USA) v  Clive Leach & John Russell (ENG)
 Manek Mathur & Parth Sharma (IND) v  Imran Khan & Aaron Luque (USA)
 Natarsha McElhinny & Scott Arnold (AUS) v  Tina Rix & John Russell (ENG)
 Victoria Simmonds & Michael Ferreira (ENG) v  Natalie Grainger & Christopher Callis (USA)
 Stephanie Hewitt & Viktor Berg (CAN) v  Seanna Keating & Thomas Brinkman (CAN)
 Narelle Krizek & Matt Jenson (AUS) v  Suzie Pierrepont & James Stout (ENG)
Women’s 1st round:
 Narelle Krizek & Natarsha McElhinny (AUS) bye
 Stephanie Hewitt & Seanna Keating (CAN) v  Alexia Echeverria & Andrea Echeverria (ESA)
 Tina Rix & Victoria Simmonds (ENG) v  Elani Landman & Lume Landman (RSA)
 Suzie Pierrepont & Tina Rix (ENG) v  Natalie Grainger & Kayley Leonard (USA)
The prize fund is more than $70,000 – with parity offered in the men’s and women’s draws.
Hardball is a variation of squash developed in North America and played on a larger court with a harder ball.