Smith & Leach Rekindle Partnership to Win Baltimore Cup

The Baltimore Cup final, (l-r): Clive Leach, Yvain Badan, Jonny Smith, Mike Ferreira

Five years after reaching the final of the 2013 World Doubles, Englishmen Jonny Smith & Clive Leach partnered up again to win the 2018 SDA Gold Baltimore Cup at the Baltimore Country Club.

The twelve-team draw played out according to seeding with top seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan setting up their semifinal with Canadian four seeds Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman, and second-seeded Smith & Leach facing off with three seeds Raj Nanda & Greg Park.

The top two seeds set up a final show down, both recording four-game victories in the semifinals.

In the final, Smith & Leach edged a close second game 15-13, before sprinting through the third and final game 15-3 to claim the title.

Just a month ago, Smith had won what had been his largest career SDA title in Delaware with Badan. The world No. 8 now celebrates a new career milestone with his first SDA Gold title. Leach, world No. 12, marks his first full ranking  title of the season and first since the World Doubles Men’s title in September 2017.

“The way we played each match over the weekend it seemed like we had played the last five seasons together,” Leach said. “Our chemistry and strategy was very positive and we just tried to keep it simple. Johnny played very solid and consistent all the way through—especially the final where we kept the relentless pressure on. Our strengths were using different weights of shot, being on the attack and resetting points when needed—and we executed that very well.”

(l-r): Paul McKinnell, Clive Leach, Jonny Smith, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira, Jason Sevier

The Baltimore Cup is one of two regular SDA tournaments in Baltimore with the Maryland Club taking a brief hiatus as the club adds a third doubles court. Outside of the SDA draw, the BCC hosted a WSDA exhibition between Natarsha McElhinny & Narelle Krizek and Latasha Khan & Stephanie Hewitt. A men’s singles invitational was also held alongside the doubles, with Luke Forster winning the competition. Local pro Wade Johnstone played in both events and made the final of the singles invitational.

“I personally really enjoy both the Baltimore stops at the BCC and the Maryland Club,” Leach said. “Great clubs with very passionate memberships. Always so hospitable and accommodating to all the players. I would like to thank Jay Bewley and Wade Johnstone for once again for all their hard work putting on such a great event.”

View images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch Baltimore Cup replays below.

February 2018 Rankings

1-Feb Name Country Tournaments Average 1-Jan
1 Damien Mudge Australia 9 4489.583 1
1 Manek Mathur India 9 4489.583 1
3 Scott Arnold Australia 8 3416.667 3
4 John Russell England 8 2893.750 4
5 Yvain Badan Switzerland 12 2726.563 5
6 Mike Ferreira England 10 2678.571 6
7 Chris Callis USA 10 2480.357 7
8 Jonny Smith England 8 2368.750 8
9 Bernardo Samper Colombia 11 1958.929 10
10 Viktor Berg Canada 5 1820.000 9
11 Raj Nanda Australia 12 1687.500 11
12 Clive Leach England 11 1667.857 14
13 Greg Park USA 11 1617.857 15
14 James Bamber England 8 1576.563 19
15 Will Mariani Canada 8 1571.875 13
16 Adam Bews Scotland 6 1471.000 17
17 Freddie Reid Canada 11 1411.607 20
18 Imran Khan USA 6 1380.000 16
19 Robin Clarke Canada 3 1350.000 49
20 Graham Bassett USA 15 1321.563 21

 

Complete Ranking List

Mathur & Mudge Successfully Defend NAO Title

The 2018 NAO final, (l-r): Yvain Badan, Damien Mudge, Mike Ferreira, Manek Mathur

Playing in their first SDA tournament since their Briggs Cup triumph in December, world No. 1’s Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge made a victorious return by successfully defending their SDA Diamond Chilton Investments North American Open title Monday night in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Top-seeded Mathur & Mudge progressed through the full draw of sixteen teams without a significant challenge on their way to the final, notching three, three-game victories.

The same could not be said for two seeds and finalists Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan.  After a second round exit at the 2017 NAO, Ferreira & Badan faced another early exit down 2-1 in the first round against Carl Baglio & Travis Judson. Ferreira & Badan recovered to emphatically close out the fifth 15-5 and progress to the quarters.

Qualifiers Steve Scharff & James Stout nearly pulled off a first-round upset against Bobby Burns & Hamed Anvari, but fell short 12-15 in the fifth.

The draw otherwise played out according to seeding with the top four seeds contesting the semifinals. After Mathur & Mudge dispatched four seeds Clive Leach & James Bamber, Ferreira & Badan sealed their place in the final with a four-game win over three seeds Bernardo Samper & Chris Callis.

In the final, Mathur & Mudge dropped their only game of the tournament in the second, clinching the title 15-8, 13-15, 15-8, 15-11.

“Mike and Swiss played a great final,” Mathur said. “They adjusted well to our game plan, retrieved almost every ball and definitely put the pressure on. I think in the second we didn’t hit our zones which let their attack of the front court come in to play well. I think heading into the third and fourth we took some pace off to control the ball better which helped.”

(l-r) Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur, Morris Clothier, Bart Osman, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira

Mathur & Mudge now remain unbeaten this season with their fifth title, and continue their winning streak spanning forty-seven matches.

“Great to be back,” Mathur said. “Lots of adversity with physical and health issues for the two of us, but managed to put things behind us for the weekend and pull through with a positive mindset. Unfortunate to miss a couple events leading up to this one, but I am sure we will play a full January next season.”

The title marks Mathur’s third consecutive, having also won in 2016 with Badan. Mudge’s remarkable NAO title record now extends to his fifteenth having won his first in 2000.

“The NAO is arguably the most prestigious title on the tour so to have our name on it together again is amazing,”Mathur said. “For me especially I started my doubles career at the FCG so it means a lot to be winning this event for the third time.”

The North American Open was first held in 1931. The Greenwich doubles community perennially hosts the event at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club.

“This event has grown and improved year over year,” Mathur said. “We cannot thank Chilton, Lexington Partners and The Delamar hotel enough for all their support. Steve, Liam and Rodney go through a huge amount of work to make their event run smoothly and it shows right from the first ball hit to the last. We both look forward to being back next year.”

View NAO images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch match replays below.

Bassett & Bews Break Through in Pittsburgh

(l-r) Adam Bews, Omar El Kashef, Clinton Leeuw, Graham Bassett

After competing on the SDA Pro Tour since its formation in 2012, world No. 17 Adam Bews and world No. 21 Graham Bassett made their first title break through at the  2018 Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger this weekend in western Pennsylvania.

Bassett & Bews entered the eight-team draw as the top seeds, and fulfilled their seeding without dropping a game on their way to a maiden title.

Elsewhere in the draw, there were a number of five-gamers. In an all-Canadian quarterfinal, Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro outlasted Strachan Jarvis & Mark Porter, 15-9, 9-15, 15-14, 12-15, 15-12.

Two seeds Clinton Leeuw & Omar El Kashef endured two five-gamers on their way to the final, first against Kyle Martino & Adam Perkiomaki, followed by coming back from 2-1 down against Travis Judson & Aaron Luque in the semis.

In the final, it was Bassett & Bews who came out on top in a close three games 15-14, 15-11, 15-12.

“I think we were fortunate to win the final in three games,” Bassett said. “Clinton and Omar are tremendous athletes and were working me into the ground. I’m not sure how much gas I had left in the tank had it gone more than three games.”

The Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger was only Bassett & Bews’ second appearance together this season following the Westchester Country Club Pro Doubles in November.

“Being the top seed in the event was a different experience for us but I think it gave us more confidence,” Bews said. “It was one of those weekends where we were both seeing the ball really well and felt very comfortable on court. We played good steady doubles and didn’t make many errors all weekend.”

Last month, Bews reached the semifinals of the Briggs Cup with Will Hartigan. Bassett enjoyed a semifinal run last weekend in Delaware with Jordan Greenberg.

“We played really well together in the Westchester event earlier this season, and I feel like we continued that good chemistry in Pittsburgh,” Bassett said. “I think we were fortunate to face three teams that called for a similar game plan. Adam is a tough competitor, and has been having a great season on tour. He was steady the whole time and delivered some big winners at crucial times.”

Both players celebrate their first career SDA Tour title.

(l-r) Graham Bassett, Adam Bews, Jim Shields, Omar El Kashef, Clinton Leeuw

 

“It’s a great feeling,” Bews said. “It’s an awesome way to start 2018 and helps continue a good season for me personally, I don’t think it has really sunk in yet.”

“I have been working in some capacity with the SDA since we transitioned from the ISDA in 2012,” said Bassett, the SDA Tour Director. “I think my role as a player has always taken a backseat to the administrator role, and it’s been a struggle to balance the two. After attending so many events and working hard behind the scenes, it’s really special to finally win one. With the big Eagles win last night, I couldn’t have asked for a better Sunday. I live in Boston, so I’ll be happily spending the next two weeks behind enemy lines.”

The Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger is in its fifth year since its founding in 2014.

“Pittsburgh is a phenomenal little event,” Bassett said. “It is a very warm and welcoming squash community. The players are looked after very well, and they pack the stands to the rafters. I’d like to thank Jim Shields, David Hillman and all the sponsors and patrons from the Pittsburgh Golf Club for their generous support year after year.”

“I always love going to Pittsburgh to play,” Bews said. “That was my third year in a row. The members are very welcoming, Jim does such a great job looking after the pros and organizing the event. Every year the crowd continues to grow and the pro am gets better and better. I am looking forward to coming back next season.”

The SDA Tour heats back up this weekend in Greenwich, Connecticut, with the final Diamond event of the season—the Chilton Investments North American Open, January 26-29.

View images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch match replays below.

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SDA Announces johnnie-O Partnership

The SDA Pro Tour welcomes the support of johnnie-O as the official lifestyle partner of the tour for the next two seasons.

“We are very pleased to welcome johnnie-O as a sponsor for the SDA Pro Tour,” said Kevin Luzak, Chair of the Squash Doubles Association Board of Directors. “The johnnie-O brand embodies an active, sports-oriented lifestyle that matches up perfectly with the DNA of the SDA and of squash doubles.  We look forward to a great partnership going forward.”

Started by John O’Donnell in 2005, johnnie-O is a branded lifestyle apparel company, founded in Santa Monica, CA, that fuses a Southern California vibe with East Coast style and embodies living your best life. With headquarters based in Los Angeles and offices throughout the Midwest and East Coast of the United States, johnnie-O boasts a national presence and partnerships with Major League Baseball, university athletics programs and now the SDA Pro Tour.

Johnnie-O joins the SDA in its sixth season. Established in 2012 as the successor to the International Squash Doubles Association, the SDA Pro Tour has more than 100 members representing eighteen countries and supports a schedule of more than twenty events across the United States, Canada and Mexico with an aggregate purse of more than $500,000.

“The SDA Pro Tour is a great partnership opportunity for johnnie-O with plenty of synergies between our brands with friends playing on the tour and customers who support tournaments,” said johnnie-O’s founder John O’Donnell. “We’re excited to be officially working together to help grow awareness of the tour and look forward to an outstanding relationship.”

SDA players and patrons can be seen sporting johnnie-O gear this season. Items from johnnie-O’s SDA Pro Tour collection can be viewed and purchased here.

For more information on johnnie-O, please contact Kim Rohm, kim@johnnie-O.com, www.johnnie-O.com

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