A new name will be engraved on the S.L. Green U.S. Men’s Championship trophy after Chris Hanson and Andrew Douglas knocked out the top two seeds, Chris Gordon and two-time defending champion Todd Harrity, in two five-game semifinals Friday night at the Philadelphia Cricket Club.
In their first career match up top-seeded Harrity took on reigning U.S. junior champion Andrew Douglas, who was seeded fourth this weekend. A ninety-five minute battle ensued with both players trading games until Douglas clinched 11-8 in the fifth.
“I did know I had a chance, I just knew all of the hard work would eventually be worth it,” Douglas said. “I’ve been focused on this tournament since the British Junior Open. All that work had to be worth something. I came into this match thinking I had nothing to lose, and I kind of just let it play out and see how it went.”
At the British Junior Open in January, the eighteen-year-old from New York City defeated World Junior Champion Eain Yow Ng in the round of sixteen in what was the biggest upset of his young career. That result has now been outdone by upsetting the world No. 52 in his home town at the senior level.
“It was tough,” Douglas said. “I always had to believe, but sometimes I felt a little outplayed, or I got my tactics wrong. But it was really just a mental battle. I was lucky to come out ahead, but honestly it was so back and forth at the end, anything could have happened and either of us could have won. You definitely wouldn’t have predicted this, but it feels great, just one more to go. Really looking forward to it, both of those guys are strong. I’ll try my best to recover and play well tomorrow.”
Douglas will face a fellow surprise finalist in the form of three seed and world No. 78 Hanson, who defeated 2013 S.L. Green champion and two seed Gordon for the first time in his career. From two all in the fifth, Hanson pulled away to clinch his first career S.L. Green final appearance 11-3 after seventy-five minutes.
“It feels pretty great,” Hanson said. “I’m a little speechless at the moment. I’ve been watching Gordo since I was a little kid. And getting that win over him for the first time was huge for me. I’ve been trying to put in the hard work. I had a couple of injuries last year, but I feel like I’m back and playing good squash again. I’m just really happy to be playing in the final.”
Gordon defeated Hanson in the 2015 semifinals, and Hanson did not compete in 2016 due to injury.
“I was a bit nervy in the first game, but still won it and the second was much better. But I slowed down in the next two, and I just thought I should go for a few more shots—which my coach Rod Martin definitely had a few things to say about. In the fifth game, I said I’m going to go back to getting some good length, making the points a bit longer, working him a bit harder, and then go short. And it worked. I got out to a good lead and just held on to it.”
The S.L. Green final debutantes will face off against one another for the first time Saturday evening.
“I’ve never played him before, but he’s a strong player clearly, taking out last year’s champion, Todd,” Hanson said. “I’m just going to focus on how I play, because usually when I don’t worry about my opponent and I make sure I do the right things with my own game, things tend to work out better for me. I’m just going to focus on playing my best.”
Live stream the final Saturday, March 11, at 6:00pm ET on www.ussquash.com/live.