Stout hits heights in Brooklyn
James Stout, partnering Yvain Badan, defeated Australia's Zac Alexander and Scott Arnold 3-1 in the David C. Johnson Jr Memorial Doubles Tournament. at the Heights Casino Club, Brooklyn, last weekend.
The game scores were 7-15, 15-12, 15-12, 15-13. The match lasted an 1hr 40min.
To reach the final, second seeds Stout and Badan, who are No 6 and No 7 in the Squash Doubles Association's February rankings, defeated Alex Domenick and Peter Kelly 3-0, Graham Bassett and Hamed Anvari 3-1 and in the semi-final, Eric Bedell and Chris Callis 3-1.
Their opponents in the final, top seeds Zac Alexander, the Commonwealth Games squash doubles gold medal-winner, and Scott Arnold are ranked No 8 and No 4.
On their journey to the final they beat J. Reed Endreson and Jeff Osborne 3-0, Clinton Leeuw and Omar El Kashef 3-2 and, in the semi-final, Michael Fereira and Will Hartigan 3-0.
Zac Alexander won this tournament last year partnering America's Chris Callis, while Stout and his other doubles partner, Scotland's Greg McArthur, were losing finalists.
The top seeds started strongly, their strategy to put Badan under pressure by lobbing the ball and sending him into the back of the court.
This reduced Badans's opportunities to attack the ball and play winners and if unchecked would tire him out.
Alexander and Arnold were in no hurry to go for easy winners, but relentlessly sent Badan into the back of the court, time and time again. The strategy paid off in the first game which Alexander and Arnold won comfortably, 15-7 in 17 minutes.
In the second game, Stout started going into the back right corner of the court to retrieve the lobs directed at Badan.
This enabled Badan to stay in the front of the court and take advantage of opportunities to play winners and save his energy.
This effectively neutralised Alexander and Arnold's strategy. After a slow start with the score at 5-5, Stout and Badan took a commanding 12-7 lead and from there moved to game ball at 14-9.
Alexander and Arnold mounted a late defence reaching 12-14 before Badan hit a great straight forehand drive into the right wall nick from the back right corner court to give his team the game 15-12 in 22 minutes.
The third game was similar to the second. From 5-5, Stout and Badan took a 13-7 lead, before Alexander and Arnold launched a counter-attack that took them to 12-14.
At that point Badan hit a forehand volley return of service short which gave him and Stout the game, 15-12 in 26 minutes.
Throughout that game Stout was covering a lot of the court and maintaining a solid defence while Badan seized every opportunity to hit winners.
In the fourth game, Badan and Stout were able to muster at most a three-point lead, at 8-5 and at 11-8.
The pace of the game increased and some of the finesse of the earlier games was lost although Badan was able to play three tight cross-court drop winners from the right front corner at 5-4, 6-5 and 7-5.
With a cross-court volley kill at 9-6 and another winner at 10-8, Badan was in his element.
However, as in the previous two games Alexander and Arnold mounted a comeback and tied the game at 11-all, before Stout and Badan shrugged off their opponents to move to 13-11.
Alexander and Arnold won the next rally. The point at 13-12 was the longest of the match as it ended in a let decision four times, before a broken string on Badan's racket moved his opponents to within two points of the game.
There was a brief delay while Badan went to get a replacement racket. The last two rallies were played at a very fast pace, with Stout playing a solid defensive game and covering a lot of the court to keep his team in the game.
He played a backhand cross-court drop shot from the left side of the court to reach game ball, and closed out the match in the next rally with a backhand straight drive down the left side of the court which died before it reached Alexander. That game lasted 27 minutes.
This was Badan and Stout's first victory at this event.