December 2016 Rankings

1-Dec Name Country Tournaments Average 1-Nov
1 Manek Mathur India 11 3821.429 2
2 Yvain Badan Switzerland 10 3691.071 3
3 Damien Mudge Australia 12 3670.313 1
4 Viktor Berg Canada 12 3032.813 4
5 Mike Ferreira England 12 2793.750 5
6 Chris Callis U.S.A. 9 2120.833 6
7 Scott Arnold Australia 7 2030.000 8
8 Matt Jenson Australia 11 1953.571 7
9 John Russell England 8 1875.000 11
10 Jonny Smith England 10 1757.143 12
11 Robin Clarke Canada 5 1736.250 8
12 Greg Park U.S.A. 10 1664.286 10
13 Raj Nanda Australia 9 1612.500 17
14 Clive Leach England 8 1600.000 13
15 Imran Khan U.S.A. 9 1566.667 15
16 Jacques Swanepoel South Africa 10 1489.286 16
17 Hamed Anvari U.S.A. 8 1367.708 14
18 Baset Chaudhry Pakistan 9 1366.667 19
19 Bernardo Samper Colombia 10 1343.304 18
20 John Roberts Ireland 11 1187.500 20

 

Complete Ranking List

bentley-trophy

Mathur & Mudge Close Out the Fall With Third Title in Toronto

bentley-trophy
l-r: Jamie Bentley, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge, John Bentley, Dean Brown, Yvain Badan, Michael Ferreira

World No. 1 Damien Mudge and world No. 2 Manek Mathur ended the first half of the SDA season with a third title in four events this fall, holding off recent PDC Cup champions Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan in the Jim Bentley Cup final at the Cambridge Club in Toronto, Canada.

The 2016 edition of the Bentley offered increased prize money of $30,000, which made this year’s Jim Bentley Cup the only sanctioned gold level event on tour with an eight-team draw.

The main draw saw one major first-round upset in the form of American-Canadian partnership Graham Bassett & Fred Reid, who knocked out all-Canadian three seeds Robin Clarke & Viktor Berg 12-15, 15-12, 15-11, 15-8 to reach the partnership’s first semifinal. One week after winning the Platinum PDC Cup in Atlanta, two seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan survived a first-round scare against Jonny Smith & Raj Nanda, coming back from 2-1 down in games to squeak out the match at 14-all in the fifth game. Bassett & Reid pushed the two seeds in a close semifinal, but Ferreira & Badan held on to reach their fourth final of the season 15-14, 9-15, 15-11, 15-12.

The eventual champions reached the final dropping just one game in the semifinals against Aussies Matt Jenson & Scott Arnold, and continued their momentum into the final, taking the title in a clean sweep of the two seeds 15-13, 15-6, 15-7.

“The final was the best I’ve seen Damien play, it was really impressive,” Mathur said of his partner. “It was like watching eighteen-year-old Damien Mudge absolutely demolishing the ball. He was controlling the court and the angles really well. He seemed to suck the play towards him and then he absolutely controlled the match. It was great to watch and amazing to experience with him on my side for sure. He was hitting such good angles so much that they had to defend even more and couldn’t react and execute their game plan.”

Both sides of the new partnership are pleased with their start to the season with the month of December off and the tour resuming with full ranking events in January with the MFS Pro-Am in Boston.

It’s a great start for us, it’s an honor to have my name on all of these trophies, especially this weekend at the Camridge Club, the event has so much history,” Mathur said. “When you first walk into the club, the Cup is the first thing you see and then you walk further inside and you see the board with so many great names of the game on it. It’s a great feeling and one of those events I wanted to win since I first started playing. You couldn’t ask for a better start of the season and hopefully we can continue this momentum into the second half of the year and finish the season strong.”

While Mathur celebrates his maiden Jim Bentley Cup title, the 2016 title marks Mudge’s sixth since 1999 with this fourth partner, and third consecutive since winning in 2014 and 2015 with Ben Gould.

“It’s a very good way to finish 2016 off on a note like winning the Cambridge Club event,” Mudge said. “It’s a very special event with a lot of history associated with it and great guys behind it such as Clive Caldwell, Dean Brown and Jamie Bentley.”

“We got off to a shaky start in Baltimore, but we have been putting some good time on court since then and feeling confident about what we should be doing out there,” Mudge continued. “We are building better and better chemistry every time we step out on court and go to an event. That’s an absolute must in any successful team.”

“The event is a testament to the way Clive, Dean and Jamie run the event,” Mathur added. “All of them have been in our shoes at some point in their lives, and so they understand the trials and tribulations of being a squash professional. So as soon as you get up there, you’re treated with such professionalism and like you’re a part of their family and club member. They make you feel so welcome. The event has been around for so long and so it has so much history and prestige. By winning it, you become a part of that rich history which is really unique.”

The Jim Bentley Cup—namesake of the Cambridge Club founder—has a long tradition of elite squash doubles with a history that has included a variety of unique events. For many years, the Bentley was held as an invitational, where the club determined the pairings, matching top PSA softball singles professionals from around the world with the best in hardball doubles.

The Bentley’s winners list is an illustrious one with rich history, including names such as Mo Khan, Gul Khan, Aziz Khan, Peter Briggs, Gary Waite, Mark Talbott, Stuart Boswell, Martin Heath, Paul Price and the son of the tournament’s namesake, Jamie Bentley.

CLEAN SWEEP FOR THE NEW PAIR IN TORONTO

THE CAMBRIDGE DOUBLES FINAL.  MONDAY NOV 21

Report From Martin Bronstein

Damian Mudge may be the old man of the doubles circuit but tonight at the Cambridge Club he showed why he has been top man for so long with so many tournament notches on his belt. Yes, he had a partner, Manek Mathur, a new match this season, but as Michael Ferreira and Yvain Badan had decided on targeting the older man in an attempt to wear him out, it seemed Mudge had to hit most of the balls and Mathur (Badan’s former partner) was reduced to that of a supporting role.

The first game was no indication of what was in store for Ferreira & Badan as they more than held their own, probably encouraged by their first meeting this season when they beat Mathur & Mudge 15-13 in the fifth. (Mind you, at their next meeting they lost 3/0)

Mudge was firing a barrage of balls back at Ferreira on the left wall and his two-handed backhand was given a lot of work. On some shots Ferreira added a sort of snapped slice, sending the ball into the front right nick – it was unreadable and promised much grief for his opponents – but ultimately caused grief to himself with a high error count.

There were few long rallies as both teams were looking for opportunities to go short. There were some wonderfully dynamic rallies with displays of lightning reaction that caused cheers from the packed bleachers.  At 13-13, it was still anybody’s game when the ball broke. The warmed up ball was Mudge’s lucky charm – he won the next points with a fluke nick off the frame and then an outright winner on a reverse nick – 15-13 after 18 entertaining minutes.

Sadly that was about it. The first point of the second game was another lucky nick, the next point went to him and his partner when Badan was denied a let and from that moment they just raced away. Mudge was hitting screaming cross-courts that were too fast for Ferreira to scrape off the wall: he was cutting in surprise drops and disguised drops for which his opponents had no answer. And always Mathur was there as solid backup.  Mathur & Mudge were 8-3 up and with the help of eight outright winners took the game 15-6 in 16 minutes – which included time out for a broken ball.

Now Ferreira & Badan are known for their determination, their never-say-die attitude and coming back from match ball down, so there was anticipation for the third game, despite the evidence of the second game.

Alas, it was not to be and once again Mathur & Mudge raced away to lead 8-2 and although Badan hit three winners to give hope at 5-8, the race was virtually over and after just 13 minutes Mathur & Mudge  had the game (symbolically the last point was on an unforced error from Ferreira ) and the match as well as then their names on the Jim Bentley Cup.

In the changing room Mudge said he’d had a good work out during the day “…and opened my hips. So when I’m feeling good in my body, I’m more confident.”  Tomorrow he will be undergoing his third knee operation: he certainly did not play like a one-legged man.

For Mike and Yvain it was a bad day at the office, and scant reward for all the hard work of the weekend when they had to ground out victories, in contrast to the winners who had a comparatively easy route to the final. Roll on 2017.

Mudge & Mathur Survive The Jenson Blitz

CAMBRIDGE DOUBLES – THE JIM BENTLEY CUP

Sunday semifinals report from Martin Bronstein

This man Matt Jenson is either very good or very bad.  Whatever face he happens to show he keeps his opponents on their toes. Today it was Damien Mudge and Manek Mathur whose toes must be aching. Not so much in the first game when they jumped quickly to a 3-1 lead and suddenly they were 6-1 ahead thanks to three Jenson errors. Mathur then rubbed salt into the wound with a winning slam down the court followed by a perfect drop shot to make the score 7-1, not the sort of mountain that Jenson and partner Scott Arnold want to climb so early in the match. Mathur & Mudge kept control of proceedings to lead 10-4 when Jenson’s good side came out: he hit three winners on the run to give his side a chance of getting back into the game at 7-10.  Mudge stopped the run with a perfect overhead volley into the nick which was followed by two more errors from Jenson and Arnold to make the score 13-7 from which there was no going back. Jenson finished the game with a slam into the tin and the first seeds had the game 15-9 after 14 minutes.

In the second game everything went into reverse. Jenson & Arnold jumped to a 4-1 lead and although their opponents gave chase right through the game Jenson was now on target hitting nine outright winners. There was some pretty long rallies but Jenson always seemed to have the last word which helped his team nick the game 15-13 after 24 minutes of hard work.

Games three once more reversed the picture as Mathur & Mudge jumped to a 5-1 lead, hitting some nice winner of their own. They held the lead and ran out 15-7 winners in only just 11minutes to lead 2/1.

The fourth game was a battle with Jenson on the left wall hitting on the old man (Mudge is now 40) on the right wall in the hope he would tire. Jenson errors and winners cancelled each other out but he and Arnold played well enough to lead 11-7 with the promise of forcing a fifth game.  Mudge hit two counter drops off Jenson drops and then served an ace to make the score 11-11. This was not the time to take any bets and when Jenson hit a beautiful forehand drop into the nick to take back the lead, a fifth game looked very likely. Mudge hit the tin to give his opponents a lead at 13-11 but then Jenson’s skill deserted him into another error. This was cancelled out by a tin from the other side to give Jenson & Arnold game ball. 14-12. But two great drop shots brought the score to 14-14 (Oh! the drama!)

Readers, can you guess what happened next? Right Jenson blasted the ball into the tin from the back of the court. It was all over 15-14 and old man Mudge and his new partner Mathur were into the final.

RESULT:  Mathur & Mudge beat  Jenson & Arnold. 3/1: 15-9, 13-15, 15-7, 15-14.  (76 minutes)

FERREIRA & BADAN REPEL QUALIFYERS BASSETT & REID

The English/ Swiss pairing of Michael Ferreira and Yvain Badan (third favourites in the betting) had scraped into the semis after a wearing 107 minute battle with Smith and Nanda in the quarters and now faced the American/ Canadian qualifyers, Graham Bassett and Freddie Reid who hit the court running to lead 3-1. There’s nothing flashy about either of these teams, so at times it is a matter of who makes the most errors. In the first game this unpopular title went to Bassett – five unforced errors. Nevertheless, they were all square up to 14-all when Reid was caught on the right wall next to a tight drive and marker had no option but to give Badan the stroke to end the 14-minute game 15-14.

The second game  was a quick 10 minute affair with Bassett & Reid keeping  control from 4-4 to lead 12-9  and then combined to hit three winners in a row to take the game 15-9.

The third game was even quicker, Ferreira & Badan racing to a 5-1 lead on some fine winners. It seemed that neither pair wanted to hang around too long (did they have a plane to catch?) and winners and errors moved the game forward, Ferreira & Badan reaping the benefits to lead 11-4 with the help of Bassett’s errors. They took the game 15-11 in just nine minutes.

The final game was well contested with Bassett & Reid giving away four unforced errors to cancel their early lead. So the battle commenced at 4-4 and almost point-for point until 10-10.  Ferreira & Badan were always steady which helped put them into the lead and, at 14-12, Bassett’s ambition tried another winner but resulted in the sound of the tin, which at the point was the death knell.

RESULT:  Ferreira & Badan beat Bassett & Reid 3/1: 15-14, 9-15, 15-11, 15-12. (52 minutes)

Jenson & Arnold Survive Qualifyer’s Challenge; Bassett & Reid Provide Upset

CAMBRIDGE DOUBLES, THE JIM BENTLEY CUP

Saturday report from Martin Bronstein

It must have been a terrific Black Tie Extravaganza on Friday night because when Matt Jenson and Scott Arnold took to the court to face the challenge of Randy Lim and Bassett Chaudhry, there were three spectators – and that included your correspondent. And 11 in the morning is a little early.

The higher ranked pair started as though they had been part of the celebrations- rusty is a word that comes to mind. Jenson was a little ambitious so early in the morning and made more errors than his ranking of 8 would suggest, while the Lim & Chaudhry machine continued their near-error free play. They deserved the 13 minute first game, winning 15-10.

In the second game Jenson tightened his game and kept the error rate down and despite trailing 6-10 he and Arnold kept their heads and pulled back to even the score at 12 and then 13 before losing 14-15.

A two game lead for the underdogs was not on the cards and the betting people were getting jittery.  However, Jenson & Arnold asserted themselves in the third game and were leading 7-3 due to some fine winners and some good low drives.  What happened next could have been a turning point: Jenson’s racquet hit Lim in the face on a follow-through and there was an immediate swelling on Lim’s eye. The blow had been hard enough crack the lens of his protective glasses. Ice was applied and within five minutes Lim was back in play.  The blow had obviously affected him as the final game score of 15-6 indicates.

The fourth game saw a glorious array of reverse angles and nicks from the top pair which made
Chaudhry a little edgy causing him to slam some shots into the tin. Jenson & Arnold kept up the pressure and took the game 15-9 to tie the match.

Lim & Chaudhry were not downhearted and made their opponents fight all the way: level at 5, level at 8 level at 9 and level at eleven. Jenson & Arnold took the next point, and just to crank up the suspense the ball broke causing a suspension of play to warm up the new ball. (This is so boring. Keep some balls in the oven, mother!) When play resume Jenson hit a beautiful low drive for a winner, won the next and forced an error from Chaudhry on the final point to give them the victory after 75 very interesting minutes.

When asked what caused the turnaround at two games down, Jenson replied: “Hitting Randy in the face.” Then got serious saying that they kept their opponents in the back of the court to give them the openings for their many winners. Their reward is a semifinal meeting with favourites Damian Mudge and Manek Mathur who had a much easier time in overcoming Imran Khan and Gregory Park.

Mudge and Mathur are ranked one and two while their opponents  are ranked 10 and 15.  The difference was obvious as Mudge (who could be the winningest squash player ever if you counted all the doubles tournaments he has won) brought a new level of stroke play to the court with the experienced backing of Mathur, his new partner. The other team’s performance suffered from the errors that streamed off Khan’s racquet.  He’s not the first player that, when faced with a superior player, would go for winners. If it comes off, you’re a hero, otherwise you walk off the court having lost.  Which is what happened, Mudge & Mathur winning 15-9, 15-7,  15-12 in  41 minutes.

THE UNITED NATIONS COMES TO THE CAMBRIDGE CLUB

The match between Viktor Berg & Robin Clarke and Graham Bassett & Fred Reid had some contentious moments – perhaps that should be minutes.  The teams did not see eye to eye with each other and both teams failed to agree with the marker on many decisions.  Oh! So many decisions. Was the ball up? Was he obstructed?  Was it a let?  Was the serve good? How many angels can dance on a squash ball?  (I made that last bit up).
At one time all four players were speaking at once with nobody seeming to listen anybody else. We came to watch squash and what we get is United Nations debates. And then Clarke accidentally drilled  Bassett in the ribs with the ball causing him to fall like a Canadian Fir. (A terrific bruise, now on YouTube).

As expected Berg & Clarke took the first game 15-12 despite trailing 4-9.  Berg finished the game with a superb long drop from the back of the court. What was not expected was that they would lose the second game despite being level at 12-12, Bassett showing his skill by closing out the game, also with a long drop from the back. The third game took 20 minutes due to injury time out and some lengthy debates; the steadiness of Bassett & Reid once more being the deciding factor – 15-11.

The fourth game seemed like a doddle for Bassett &Reid when they led 12-4 – yes 12-4! Berg & Clarke did not give up and fought hard to get back to 7-12 before their opponents took a point to bring their run to an end.  Then came a long, long rally, with both teams realizing the importance of the next point; It went on forever before Clarke made the error to put the game at match point. Bassett & Reid took that point to put them in the semis where they will face Michael Ferreira & Yvain Badan

Jonny Smith and Raj Nanda were not expected to lose to Ferreira & Badan in the final match of the afternoon. And nor was the match expected to last 97 minutes, the longest of the tournament so far.

None of the four players showed a range of killer shots and long stretches of games were taken up with Smith on the left wall cross-courting high balls to Badan on the right wall, who would volley back to Smith who would repeated his shot. It began to look like a well-honed training routine instead of competitive squash play.

Smith& Nanda took the first game 15-7 due to Badan’s error rate, and then lost the second game 9-15 in just 11 minutes. They reasserted themselves by winning the third game in 18 minutes, 15-9, a session that included a thousand cross court volleys. (This could be an exaggeration.)

They were again expected to win the fourth game which they led 8-5  but their opponents wore them down to win  15-12 to force a decider.

The game was timed at 32 minutes, which included innumerable training routines and at least two broken balls. To be fair it had suspense: tied at 12 and then 13 and then 14-all, match ball.  The gallery was full and nobody had left their seat for the entire match. The point finally went to Ferreira and Badan who must surely need a long ice bath and massages before Sunday’s semi-final.

PRO TOUR