Yes, and it’s safe too! IC squash hosted our Inaugural Doubles Open at Ethos, with teams hailing from our own club, Imperial alumni, students from all the various London universities, and doubles enthusiasts enticed via social media.
The tournament started on Saturday morning and featured three fields: Grade A, Grade B, and Mixed. Much to the delight of some players, a livestream on social media offered the opportunity to witness the early matches without disruption to their sacred morning routines. Starting off in group stages, the pairs showcased not only their technique but also their ability to adapt to the traditional English ruling (11 points, best of three), which caused for some confusion about who had to serve. The first day of the tournament ended with curly fries in the union, evoking happy memories of years gone by for the numerous alumni attending the tournament.
The Mixed Final kicked things off on Sunday with the pair Victoria Leow/Alex Li (LSE) seeing off IC’s former men’s No1 Ian Jubb playing together with Carrie Elliott (women’s 2nd team captain) in two clear games. The women’s final went the full distance and LSE’s pair Clara Ng /Alexa Tzarnas (LSE) triumphed over Melissa Lee (LSE)/Pamela Hathway (IC). Germany’s former national player stayed on court for another final, when she was joined by Patrick Brandl (IC men’s 1st team) to compete in the Grade A final. Hathway/Brandl proved that not only can a mixed team play in Grade A, but they can even make quite an impression – they hadn’t dropped a single game on their journey to the final. They faced the tournament favourites, Marco Alves / Puvendren Subramaniam (IC men’s 1st team) who were also yet to drop a game.
“Doubles can be a lot more fun than singles and is, arguably, more multifaceted”
Much to the delight of the spectators and online-viewers, the match turned out to be a close one, with both pairs being tested by long rallies (we even saw the odd dive to retrieve some balls). Unsurprisingly in a doubles match on a singles court, the referee got involved, and the players welcomed the opportunity for a friendly debate with him. Hathway/Brandl adapted their strategy to the shot-making of Subramaniam and the clean hitting of Alves, which forced lengthy and deep exchanges on the hot and humid courts at Ethos. In the end, Alves/ Subramaniam were able to exert their authority, and Hathway/Brandl had to settle for the consolation prize of being the only pairing to claim a game off them all tournament.
We wanted the tournament to provide a competitive inter-university doubles competition, otherwise lacking in the BUCS setup, but also to serve as a means for players from different universities and different backgrounds to come together socially. It may come as a surprise to learn that squash doubles is played at an international level and that there is even a world championships, despite it not being commonplace at club level. It even features at the Commonwealth Games and at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
Unlike in Tennis and Badminton, where doubles is an integral part of BUCS matches, doubles squash is not played as part of the league, or as a standalone event. Singles squash seems to overshadow its high paced and ultra-tactical doubles cousin. There is also the common misconception that it is not possible to play doubles on a regular singles court. There are indeed specialised, wider courts, but these are few and far between in the UK, and you are unlikely to find one down at your local club. But it most certainly is possible to play doubles on a singles court – in fact, it makes it all the more tactical as you try to outmanoeuvre your opponent and find space where there is not much to be found.
Doubles can be a lot more fun than singles and is, arguably, more multifaceted. The game is much less about heavy hitting and fast running, and more akin to a chess battle with your opponent, thinking several moves ahead about how you are going to move them around the court, as well as how you are going to use your partner for that killer blow to win a rally. Whereas singles is mostly won on fitness and power, doubles is won with the mind. The result being that a victory can feel as satisfying as completing the Felix crossword.
The winners of each field walked away with the latest top of the range squash rackets courtesy of Blade; with the runners up each taking home a racket bag. IC Squash would like to thank Blade Squash for sponsoring our prizes, members of the committee for helping to run and promote the tournament, Ethos for providing the squash courts for two full days, and all participants for making it a fantastic, competitive and, most importantly, highly sociable event. We hope to see you at next year’s edition, but if you cannot wait that long, why not drop by the squash courts sometime to meet some of our club members? We would love to help you get into this exciting sport! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on social media.