All posts by Chris McClintick

Badan & Stout Surge to Westchester Country Club Pro Doubles Title

(back row, l-r:) James Bamber, Mike Ferreira, Chris Callis, Adam Bews, Yvain Badan, Bryan Fitzpatrick, James Stout (front row, l-r:) Lume Landman, Natalie Grainger

The second annual Westchester Country Club Pro Doubles platinum draw saw a seismic shift in the days leading up to the tournament.

Following Manek Mathur‘s Achilles injury at the Big Apple Open the previous Monday night, world No. 6 Chris Callis was forced to call up world No. 7 Mike Fereirra to occupy the top seed in Westchester. The following Tuesday, world No. 8 Bernardo Samper unfortunately had to return to his native Colombia for a family emergency, leaving world No. 5 Yvain Badan in search of a new partner to fill in the gap of his Big Apple Open-winning team. As a result, Badan linked up with world No. 9 James Stout in their first ever partnership together, slotting in as the two seeds.

The match of the tournament perhaps came in the quarterfinals between qualifiers Ed Garno & Alex Stait & four seeds Clive Leach & James Bamber. Leach & Bamber squandered a two-game lead as the match progressed to a decisive simultaneous match ball, which the higher seeds executed to advance 15-10, 15-14, 12-15, 12-15, 15-14.

One five-gamer wasn’t enough for Leach & Bamber, as the Englishmen once again went the distance in the semifinals against Callis & Ferreira. After alternating games through to the fifth, the top seeds ended Leach & Bamber’s run 15-9 to reach the final.

Badan & Stout progressed through the bottom half of the draw with a four-game win over Adam Bews & Will Hartigan  in the quarters and a three-game semifinal victory against Jonny Smith & Zac Alexander.

Badan & Stout carried their form into the final, dispatching Callis & Ferreira 15-13, 15-10, 15-13, to claim their first title together and Badan’s second in a week’s span.

“It’s been a tough week for the tour between Manek rupturing his Achilles and this happening to Bernardo,” Badan said. “I was lucky that James was able to step in. You never know how you’re going to gel with someone until you jump on court together, and fortunately it worked out great. We discussed a strategy and implemented it well together. We had good communication and covered for each other, and his style and my style really worked out well together.”

Stout, a Bermudian, is competing in the Racquets World Championships this coming weekend at the Racquet & Tennis Club.

“It can be tough playing with a new partner as you both are trying to figure out each other’s game and determining who should play which shots,” Stout said. “There were a couple of points in our first match where we both left shots for the other, but besides that it was pretty easy getting into a rhythm. We have played against each other on numerous occasions so knew each other’s style of play and were able to adapt pretty quickly. It was a fun weekend partnering with him.”

Westchester marks Badan’s first platinum title since the 2016 Maryland Club Open, while Stout celebrates the largest title of his career to date.

“The Westchester community is really special, I feel very connected to them because I used to be at Apawamis right down the road, so it almost feels like playing at home,” Badan said. “It’s a membership who knows their squash doubles and great to see them so excited and appreciative of the squash.”

“Westchester Country Club and all of the members were fantastic hosts,” Stout said. “It honestly felt like this tournament had been around for years with how smoothly everything ran. It is great to see a new tournament on the calendar and even better with it being a platinum event. Hopefully with Natalie Grainger, the squash committee and incredible membership this event will continue to grow each year.”

Badan & Samper Win First Big Apple Open; Mathur Sustains Achilles Injury

Yvain Badan (l) and Bernardo Samper.

The 2018 Big Apple Open ended in unfortunate fashion as world No. 1 Manek Mathur sustained what appeared to be a severe Achilles injury midway through the second game of the final, forcing an immediate retirement and handing the 2018 title to Yvain Badan & Bernardo Samper Monday night at New York Athletic Club.

The final appeared to be well poised for the NYAC crowd as the top two seeds collided in one of the SDA Tour’s staple events.

Mathur rekindled his Maryland Club Open-winning partnership with Chris Callis and progressed through the draw with the same impeccable form that has seen the Indian international go undefeated for his last nineteen tournaments, spanning three seasons and dating back to the 2016 Maryland Club Open final loss nearly three years ago to the month.

The top seeds made a blistering start to the final with a decisive 15-5 score line, but the two seeds returned more resolute in the second game. At 7-all, Mathur pulled up awkwardly, unsure of what had transpired at first, until the reality of the injury set in. Callis, Badan and Samper as well as members of the crowd rushed to his aid and emergency services arrived shortly after to treat Mathur.

While both Samper & Badan mark their first career Big Apple Open title, both players could only focus on the well-being of their opponent, fellow Trinity alum and friend.

“There’s no celebration for us right now, we just feel horrible for Manek,” Badan said. “There’s no worse way to win a match. You never want to see that happen to anybody, no less someone you’re so close to. We all went to school together, we’re best friends, and it’s even more tough seeing how much of the season is still down the line and knowing how long it will take him to recover.”

The injury will no doubt have re-seeding and draw implications for the rest of the season as the tour prepares to descend on Westchester Country Club with an SDA Platinum draw this weekend.

“It really sucks, especially to see the caliber player he is and everything he’s doing for the tour,” Samper said. “He’s the best player, perhaps in history, and he’s been training really hard for this season, and to see it in the second game of the final is really sad. We wish him the best in his recovery and we need him back on the tour as soon as possible.”

Mathur had won the past two Big Apple Opens with Damien Mudge, including a 2017 final win over Samper & Callis. Badan reached the 2014 final with Mathur and the 2016 final with Mike Ferreira.

“We’re grateful to the Big Apple Open, they’re always a steady event every year,” Badan said. “Pat Canavan and his staff do a wonderful job and we’re grateful to everyone here. We’re just upset for Manek and that we couldn’t give them more of a final.”

 

 

Mathur & Mudge Complete Undefeated SDA Season in Cleveland

Damien Mudge (l) and Manek Mathur

Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge accomplished an undefeated season when the world No. 1’s successfully defended their SDA Gold Tavern Club Invitational title in Cleveland, Ohio.

Mathur & Mudge’s 2017-2018 season ends with a fifty-four match unbeaten streak, six titles and retaining the joint world No. 1 ranking.

While the final was no surprise between the top two seeds, the twelve-team draw produced two shock quarterfinal results that sent both the three and four seeds out of the tournament.

The top half of the draw saw Adam Bews & Colin West dispatch four seeds Clinton Leeuw & Omar El-Kashef in three games to reach their first semifinal together, where they would ultimately fall against Mathur & Mudge.

In a familial affair, John Roberts & Jordan Greenberg opened their tournament by defeating Joey Roberts & Gavan Hitchenor. Roberts & Greenberg nearly squandered a two-game lead in their quarterfinal against four seeds Mike Ferreira & Zac Alexander, who just won a doubles gold medal at the Commonwealth games. After dropping the fourth on simultaneous game/match ball, Roberts & Greenberg pulled off of the upset 15-11 in the fifth to reach the semis.

Two seeds John Russell & Scott Arnold reached their third final of the season without dropping a game, ending Roberts & Greenberg’s run in a three-game semifinal.

Russell & Arnold carried their momentum into the final against the top seeds in their first match up since the Briggs Cup, decisively winning the first game 15-6. Mathur & Mudge regained their composure during the break, however, tipping the match in their favor to claim the title 6-15, 15-10, 15-14, 15-10.

“Russell & Arnold are a great team,” Mudge said of the PDC Cup champions. “They have good ball control and good structure on court, so we had to adjust our games in order to come back from the first game loss. If you are going to beat that team it will take patience and precise structure.”

“Matches against them are always well contested and we were ready for a battle,” Mathur said. “The first game was them really finding their groove and us being on our heels and not pushing up in the court. We had to slow the ball down a bunch and really be disciplined with our game plan for the next few games.”

Mudge now marks his fourth career undefeated season on the pro doubles circuit, having previously recorded one undefeated season with Ben Gould and two with Gary Waite.  Mathur marks his first career undefeated season.

“It’s always great to win, but to finish an undefeated season with Manek was really special,” Mudge said. “These things don’t happen that often in ones career, so to have the opportunity to do it was amazing! It is a pure pleasure playing with Manek. He is such a strong player and such a good person. I feel privileged to be with him for the last two years.”

While the undefeated season is his first, Mathur has now won three consecutive titles at the Tavern Club, the first of which came with Gould in 2016.

“This is my first undefeated season and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it headed into Cleveland,” Mathur said. “Cleveland is a special place for me. I have always enjoyed going out there to see family and in turn, made a lot of great relationships with the members at the Tavern Club. Quick shout out to my pro/am partner, Matt Brinn, who has played with me for the last four years. We finally clinched the coveted title! I am lucky to have Damien on my side and he’s a great mentor and friend through the process. We faced a lot of adversity this season and to manage staying undefeated means a lot to the two of us.”

The Tavern Club Invitational has been held annually since 2006. Mudge has now won all but four of the events with a total of nine titles.

“Big thank you to Ian Sly,” Mudge said. “He does an amazing job at the tavern club and really takes care of the pros.”

“Ian Sly and his team deserves a massive kudos,” Mathur said. “They run such a special tournament, members are very enthusiastic and the club on the whole is very welcoming and respectful to the pros. I speak on behalf of all my fellow pros that we can’t wait to be back out in Cleveland. Rumor has it that soon there will be a Mudgie poster on the building to replace Lebron!”

The 2017-2018 SDA season comes to a close with the SDA Gold Buffalo Pro Doubles, May 10-13.

Russell & Arnold Close Out SDA Season With Buffalo Club Title

The Buffalo Club Pro Doubles final, l-r: Thomas Brinkman, Scott Arnold, Will Mariani, John Russell.

John Russell & Scott Arnold ended the 2016-2017 SDA season on a high note with a perfect run to the inaugural SDA Silver Buffalo Club Pro Doubles title in upstate New York.

The Buffalo Club’s doubles court is only four years old, and in addition to hosting the 2016 National Doubles, brought professional doubles back to Buffalo for the first time in the SDA era with this $25,000, eight-team main draw event.

Russell, world No. 6, & Arnold, world No. 9, led the draw as the top seeds and ran away with the title with three, three-game victories. The draw did have a big upset in the form of Canadian’s Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman, who upset two seeds Bernardo Samper & Raj Nanda in a five-game, first-round comeback after going down 2-0. The Canadians needed another five games in the semifinals to upset three seeds Imran Khan & Greg Park. In the final, Russell & Arnold halted their run 15-12, 15-3, 15-12.

The title marks Russell’s first title of the season in his fourth final appearance, and Arnold’s second in addition to February’s Baltimore Cup.

“It felt great finishing the season with a victory,” Russell said. “Scott played great all weekend and we gelled very well considering we’ve never played together before. Buffalo is a great squash town and we were treated like kings. Tom Hayes, head pro at the buffalo club, did a fantastic job organizing the event with all our possible needs catered for.”

Russell faced his fellow Englishman and 2015 World Doubles partner Clive Leach in the semifinals and will hope to defend his title at the 2017 World Doubles in St. Louis, September, 21-24.

“I’m looking forward to getting some summer training under my belt to get in the best possible shape to try and retain the world championship in September,” Russell said.

For more information on the 2017 World Doubles, visit www.worlddoubles.com.

Watch Buffalo Pro Doubles live stream replays on the SDA Youtube. View Buffalo Pro Doubles images in the SDA SmugMug gallery.

Mudge Targets Eighth Tavern Club Title With Defending Champion Mathur

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One year after facing off against each other in the 2016 Tavern Club Invitational final, world No. 1 Manek Mathur & world No. 2 Damien Mudge return to Cleveland as the title favorites as they near the end of a dominant SDA Tour season.

Last year, Mathur earned his first Tavern Club title in a one-off pairing with former world No. 1 Ben Gould—Mudge’s partner of five years—while Mudge reunited with his partner from 2009-2010, Viktor Berg, for much of the 2015-2016 season. Mathur & Gould’s marathon five-game final victory sent Gould level with Mudge as the all-time Tavern Club title leaders with seven each.

In the offseason, Mathur & Mudge joined forces to and returned to the tour in the fall as a new power partnership. In their first season together, Mathur & Mudge have lost just one match all season—the season-opening Maryland Club Open final—and have won seven titles in seven tournaments since that loss in October. If the top seeds earn the title this year, Mudge would move past Gould with his eighth title since his first in 2008.

A diverse draw will aim to thwart the top seeds’ title hopes, however. Canada’s Will Mariani & Fred Reid enter the draw as the four seeds with a predicted semifinal against Mathur & Mudge. Reid has enjoyed his most successful SDA season to date with two major semifinal runs in the Jim Bentley Cup and Baltimore Cup.

Local favorites Iago Cornes & Joe Russell will hope to entertain the home crowd with a first-round match against Graham Bassett & John Roberts, with the winner set to face Mariani & Reid in the second round.

England’s 2015 world doubles champion and world No. 8 John Russell & world No. 13 Raj Nanda oppose Mathur & Mudge as the two seeds in the draw’s bottom half. Russell has played with six different partners this season and will aim for his fourth final appearance and potentially first title of the season.

Russell & Nanda could face one of the most promising partnerships this season in the second round in the form of Bobby Burns & James Bamber. Burns, twenty-seven years old, and Bamber, twenty-one years old, reached the David C. Johnson Memorial semifinals as qualifiers, which included a quarterfinal upset against Russell & Berg. Burns & Bamber will play Scotsman and Missouri Athletic Club pro Adam Bews & Australian journeyman Jeff Osborne in their tournament opener.

The sole qualifying spot will be occupied by either Joshua Hollings & Jonathan Hyett or Mark & Ray Lindsay, and will slot in for a first-match against South African Clinton Leeuw & Jordan Greenberg. The winner of which will face the tournament’s three seeds, Imran Khan & Jacques Swanepoel.

The twelfth Tavern Club Invitational will prove to be historic by either augmenting its all-time title record, or welcoming two new names onto the tournament’s roll of champions.