All posts by Rob Dinerman

A Recap of the 2016-17 SDA Season

Dateline June 5th — The 2016-17 SDA pro doubles tour promised a markedly changed competitive landscape even before it began due to the fact that that no fewer than six of the top eight ranked players from the previous campaign were entering the season-opening Maryland Club Open with first-time-ever partners, and one of the two exceptions was the retired Ben Gould. This situation was most graphically symbolized that weekend in Baltimore when Manek Mathur and Yvain Badan, former Trinity College teammates whose seven years of partnership (from 2009-16), many of them as the No. 2 team behind Gould and Damien Mudge, had finally culminated in their ascent to the No. 1 team ranking during the spring of 2016, were presented with the 2016 Team of the Year Award — less than 24 hours before they then competed AGAINST each other in the final! A certain amount of interpersonal tension understandably animated the ensuing extremely closely contested action, from which Badan and his first-time partner Michael Ferreira emerged triumphant, albeit barely (15-13 in the fifth), over Mathur and his first-time partner Mudge. This was the first of two tournament wins (Atlanta being the other) amassed by the Ferreira/Badan pairing, with five runner-up finishes as well, making them the second most successful team on the circuit.

l-r: Andrew Cordova, Ed Garno, Justin Todd, Yvain Badan, Manek Mathur, Graham Bassett.

But that one late-September setback was to be the only one that Mathur and Mudge sustained all season, as after this initial misstep they then embarked on a nine-tournament, 30-match winning spree during which they were never pushed to a fifth game and won all but five of their matches three games to love. Mudge, returning to the right wall — on which he had played with Gary Waite from 1999-2007, winning 75 tournaments, the most ever for one duo, and compiling three wire-to-wire undefeated seasons — after nine extraordinary years on the left, played with a level of power and fitness that belied his May 2016 fortieth birthday, while Mathur’s athleticism and deadly shot-making led to countless front-court winners throughout their blemish-free run. Their final-round opponents included Ferreira/Badan at the Big Apple Open in Manhattan, Bentley Cup in Toronto, MFS Pro-Am in Boston and David C. Johnson Jr. Memorial Doubles in Brooklyn (which latter event Mudge won for the 16th consecutive year with his fourth different partner); John Russell and Viktor Berg in St. Louis and at the North American Open in Greenwich; Russell and Badan in Germantown; Jonny Smith and Chris Callis (another first-time pairing this season) at the Kellner Cup in New York; and Russell and Raj Nanda in Cleveland. Even the arthroscopic right-knee surgery that Mudge underwent immediately prior to the month-long Christmas holidays break seemed to make virtually no discernible impact on his mobility or effectiveness, given the no-nonsense efficiency with which he and Mathur blew through the draw when the schedule resumed in early January in Boston, where they yielded only 24 total points in their 3-0 final with Ferreira and Badan.

l-r: Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur, Lenny Bernheimer, Amrit Khanwal, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira

Other tournament winners in addition to the top two teams were Bernardo Samper and Baset Chaudhry (two of six Trinity College alumni ranked in the SDA top 13) at the Missouri Athletic Club Open in St. Louis (over Matt Jenson and host club pro Adam Bews in the final), Smith and Chaudhry in the Challenger event in Pittsburgh, Jenson and Scott Arnold (over Callis and Smith) at the Baltimore Cup, Samper and Callis (over Ferreira and Badan) at the Tompkins Invitational in Philadelphia, Russell (who played in a total of five finals with a tour-leading four different partners) and Arnold (over Will Mariani and Thomas Brinkman) in the season-ending event in Buffalo, and Chaudhry and Whitten Morris (over James Stout and Eric Bedell) in the Long Island Open Challenger event in which both final-round teams had had to earn their way into the main draw by first winning several rounds of qualifying matches, one of many signs of how deep the SDA tour has become in recent years. All told, 11 of the top 13 ranked players won at least one sanctioned SDA tournament, 19 players attained at least one final and more than two dozen players made it to at least the semis, all of which figures represent all-time highs during the 18 ISDA/SDA years of North American professional doubles squash. And of the seven sanctioned tournaments this past season which Mudge and Mathur didn’t enter, only twice — in Atlanta and Buffalo — did the No. 1 seed wind up in the winner’s circle.

l-r: Eric Bedell, Whitten Morris, Baset Chaudhry, James Stout compete in the final of the 2016 Long Island Open

The Mathur/Mudge dominance aside, there were noteworthy breakthrough wins and a number of near-misses throughout the season, beginning right with the opening weekend, when Ferreira and Badan let a fourth-game match-ball get away in their semifinal with Berg and Nanda before winning the fifth game and then taking the aforementioned route-going final, in which four of the five games were decided by two points or less. Before autumn had ended, Ferreira (who the prior year had similarly been involved in a trio of simultaneous-match-point matches) and Badan had had to save two quarterfinal fourth-game match-balls against them (courtesy Samper/Chaudhry) en route to winning the tournament in Atlanta, then rallied from 7-11 to 15-14 against Nanda and Smith at the same stage of the very next tour stop in Toronto. A few months after that pair of narrow escapes, they survived a 15-14 fifth game with Nanda and Russell at the Philadelphia Racquet Club in the semis.

In addition to their advance to the Buffalo final (featuring solid victories over Nanda/Samper and Imran Khan/Greg Park), Mariani and Brinkman, winners of the Ontario regional championship in December and runners-up to Arnold and Robin Clarke each of the past three years in the Canadian National Doubles, scored impressive victories over first Chaudhry and Clive Leach and then Jenson and Arnold to reach the semifinal stage at the University Club of Boston. In Brooklyn, Bobby Burns and James Bamber accentuated their already-praiseworthy qualifying-round win over Morris and Stout and round-of-16 four-gamer over Nanda and Hamed Anvari by then triumphing, and doing so convincingly (15-8 in the fourth) in their quarterfinal with Berg and Russell, who just a few weeks earlier had reached the North American Open final. Burns also reached the quarterfinals in both Greenwich (when he and Bamber prevailed over Khan and Park) and Germantown, where he and Travis Judson out-lasted Alex Stait and Ed Garno in one of nearly a dozen matches this past season that had a 15-14 fifth-game conclusion. The emergence of these and other newly-forming partnerships was one of the foremost themes of this past season, as were the return to the SDA schedule after a several-years hiatus of tour sites in Philadelphia, Long Island and Buffalo, and both of these phenomena should augur well for the 2017-18 season and beyond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Rob Dinerman served as the Official Writer for the ISDA/SDA Tour throughout the 12-year period from 2001-13 and for the past six years has been the Editor of the DailySquashReport.com web site. He has authored several books, including two squash anthologies, “Selected Squash Writings” Volumes I and II on Amazon.com, as well as Histories of squash at Harvard and Deerfield published in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and is currently researching a History of squash at Princeton University.

A Recap of the 2015-16 SDA Men’s Professional Doubles Tour

Dateline May 1st — The 2015-16 Squash Doubles Association (SDA) tour, which featured an unprecedented number of high-achieving teams, new faces late in draws, prominent in-season retirements, both permanent and temporary, and 15-14 fifth-games, can nevertheless be divided fairly evenly, both chronologically and statistically, into two parts, bisected by the four-week Christmas holiday break. There was the Autumn 2015 portion, during which Damien Mudge and Ben Gould rampaged through the draws of all five tournaments they entered — namely the Maryland Club Open, the Big Apple Open, the PDC Cup in Atlanta, the Jim Bentley Cup in Toronto and the biennial Briggs Cup in Rye, immediately prior to which Gould announced that that event would be his swan song — followed by the Winter/Spring 2016 portion, which saw Manek Mathur and Yvain Badan, the second-best team on tour throughout most of the five-year Mudge/Gould reign, finally break through with a dominant extended performance.

DSC_0406
Damien Mudge (left) & Ben Gould (right) at the 2015 Briggs Cup

The two former Trinity College teammates captured the Boston tournament, the North American Open in Greenwich and the Baltimore Cup, compiling a calendar 2016 record of 10-1, with the first two of those final-round wins coming at the expense of Mudge and his new/old partner Viktor Berg, with whom Mudge had teamed up throughout the three-year period from 2007-10 (during which they won 17 tournaments) and with whom he reunited in the wake of Gould’s retirement. Though they lost the Boston and Greenwich finals to Mathur/Badan, Mudge and Berg won titles this past season in Wilmington, St. Louis and Brooklyn, which latter accomplishment, incredibly, marked the 15th straight Heights Casino crown for Mudge: no one else in the history of North American professional doubles has a consecutive-years streak even half that long, in any venue. Mudge, the tour’s “all-time leading scorer”, whose tournaments-won count surpassed the milestone 150 mark this past season, won a tour-leading eight tournaments and reached a tour-leading 11 finals in 12 attempts in 2015-16, the only exception occurring at the Baltimore Cup in late February when his partner Berg suffered mid-match muscle pull in the quarterfinals against Matt Jenson and Hamed Anvari and could not continue.

Yvain Badan & Manek Mathur embrace after winning the 2016 Chilton Investments North American Open
Yvain Badan & Manek Mathur embrace after winning the 2016 Chilton Investments North American Open

Berg and Mudge were also involved in perhaps the most intriguing competitive tableau of the season, or, for that matter, of the last SEVERAL seasons, in the final full-ranking stop on the schedule, the Tavern Club Invitational in Cleveland in mid-April. There, just 124 days after the Briggs Cup final, Gould came out of retirement, this time teaming with Mathur and ultimately resulting in a riveting five-game final whose intensity level, abetted by the historical backdrop of Mudge and Gould opposing each other for the first time after their five and a half seasons of SDA domination, as well as the cozy confines of the host arena, the raucous engagement of an enraptured gallery and the event’s positioning as the last major tournament on the schedule, all added up to a very special and memorable evening. Each player left a major hand-print on the undulating action, with Mathur and Gould intent on holding front-court position and inflicting constant high pace to open up the court, while Mudge and Berg in the games they won did a great job of slowing the play down and creating up-and-back movement for their opponents.

They especially applied this stratagem against Gould, who in his return after a four-month hiatus was having to deal with both this event’s compressed playing schedule (three matches in 24 hours) and a level of tightness and eventual cramping in his calves and hamstring muscles, especially when he backpedaled to field lobs after he had previously been maneuvered to the front of the court, that steadily increased as the fifth game moved along. Mudge and Berg determinedly cut into what had been a sizable early-game deficit, eventually creeping to 11-12, but at this crisis juncture a visibly hobbled Gould, who had been forced to take an injury time-out just a few points earlier, came up with two of his team’s three-straight match-ending winners, including the forehand overhead that he spiked into the front-left nick for a dramatic ending to the match’s final exchange.

l-r: Viktor Berg, Ben Gould, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge at the 2016 Tavern Club Invitational
l-r: Viktor Berg, Ben Gould, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge at the 2016 Tavern Club Invitational

In a noteworthy historical twist, in the last SDA tournament one year ago, the biennial World Doubles at the Onwentsia Club in suburban Chicago, Gould had been at the other side of a five-game final that ended in eerily similar fashion when he and Mudge had rallied from 4-9 to 11-12 against Clive Leach, who had been immobilized by leg cramps from mid-game onward, and John Russell, only to have their comeback attempt stymied when Leach somehow conjured up daring reverse-corner winners on two of the final three points, including on match-ball. Russell and Leach began this past campaign on a solid note when they reached the final of the Maryland Club Open in early October and Russell then teamed with Berg several weeks later to win the Missouri Athletic Club Open later that month, defeating Preston Quick and Matt Jenson in the final. But Russell and Leach would advance to only one more final, at the Baltimore Cup in late February, as they found themselves frequently hampered by other commitments (Russell is the head coach of the varsity squash team at Episcopal Academy) and injuries, first to Russell’s back in December and then to Leach’s right knee in January that necessitated surgery in mid-March and ended his season. Leach should be fully recovered in time for the outset of the 2016-17 tour, when he and Russell, World Doubles finalists in 2009 and 2011 in addition to their winning effort in 2015, will likely resume their standing as a formidable contending team.

l-r: Matt Jenson, John Russell, Adam Bews, Viktor Berg, Preston Quick
l-r: Matt Jenson, John Russell, Adam Bews, Viktor Berg, Preston Quick

So should the Toronto-based Robin Clarke/Scott Arnold partnership, which began in the most low-key circumstances imaginable while they were sharing a cab-ride one night, during which they decided on a whim to enter the 2014 Canadian National Doubles after one of them mentioned almost in passing that the entry deadline was less than 24 hours away. Their choice of walls (Clarke on the left, Arnold on the right) resulted not from any meticulous analysis of their relative forehand/backhand strengths and weaknesses, as is true of most newly forming partnerships, but rather was based solely on their having played those respective walls in a Toronto league match in which they had opposed each other earlier that evening. Overwhelming underdogs in their quarterfinal match-up against defending champions Gary Waite, a legendary figure in the sport, and his hard-hitting young partner Thomas Brinkman, Clarke and Arnold, meshing seamlessly for ANY team, much less a debuting one composed of players both of whom were playing in not only their first doubles tournament as partners but their first doubles tournament, period, won handily and then knocked off first Will Mariani and Colin West in the semis and then Michael Pirnak and Fred Reid Jr. in the final.

clarke and arnold crop
Scott Arnold (left) & Robin Clarke (right), winners of the 2016 Ridley Windows & Doors Toronto Cricket Club Open

Deciding to give the SDA tour a try in the wake of that unexpected accomplishment, they have steadily ascended up the pro rankings during these past two seasons (in both of which they repeated as Canadian National Doubles champs) to the point where they have now cracked the top ten. They have lost to no team other than Mathur/Badan, Mudge/Gould and Mudge/Berg, frequently reaching the semis — including in the Briggs Cup via a three-love win over Russell and Leach — and advancing to their first full-ranking SDA final (they had previously won a Challenger event in Pittsburgh during the Winter 2015) in Toronto this past April, at the inaugural Cricket Club Open, where Clarke is based. There they received a walk-over win when Greg Park, who had badly injured his knee late in his and partner Jonny Smith’s semifinal tally over Reid and Mariani, had to default the final. It was an unfortunate ending to what was otherwise a very productive season for Park and Smith, who got to the semis of the Big Apple Open, the PDC Cup, the Bentley Cup and in Boston. Park also teamed with Imran Khan to reach the North American Open semis, the same round that Smith attained with Russell in Cleveland just a few days after Park had hurt himself in Toronto.

Throughout the season there were a slew of matches that came down to simultaneous-match-ball, with several players being on both ends of the outcome on multiple occasions. Michael Ferreira, one of 11 Trinity College alumni among the SDA’s top 31 ranked players, and Chris Callis lost by this margin on consecutive early-December weekends, first at Wilmington, when Ferreira tinned an open ball against Bernardo Samper and Antonio Diaz, and then in a Briggs Cup quarterfinal against Mathur and Badan. Undaunted by those agonizing near-misses, Ferreira and Callis beat Quick and Jenson (simultaneous-match-ball winners one round earlier after trailing Mathur and Badan 12-3!), 15-14 in the fourth, in the Heights Casino semis, leading into a frenetic first three weekends of March that began with Reid and Brinkman winning the U. S. National Doubles final, 15-14 in the fifth, against Quick and Graham Bassett, on a Brinkman cross-court past Bassett, and continued with yet ANOTHER simultaneous-championship-point conclusion just seven days later at the Hashim Khan Open. The host venue for this latter tournament, the Denver Athletic Club, was the squash stomping ground for the Quick siblings, Meredeth and Preston, both of whom earned their way into their respective finals.

Meredeth Quick and Tarsh McElhinny prevailed over Suzie Pierrepont and Tina Rix in the WSDA pro women’s final, but in the men’s, the hope for a Quick family “double” was dashed, albeit barely, when Preston Quick and partner Jenson came up just short against Jacques Swanepoel and Ferreira, who blasted a backhand cross-court winner to perfect width at 14-all. Never before had consecutive-week tournaments of this dimension both culminated with a simultaneous-championship-ball, and had that last point in Colorado instead landed in the Quick/Jenson column, it would have made for a storybook career ending for Preston Quick, the SDA Director of Development, who announced his retirement during the trophy presentation. One week later at the Germantown Cricket Club in suburban Philadelphia, Ferreira notched his second SDA title in as many weeks when he and Callis won in five games against Swanepoel (who in February had won the Pittsburgh Challenger tourney with Jenson) and James Stout.

Fittingly in light of all these springtime consecutive-tournament route-going finals (capped off by the spectacular denouement in Cleveland), the very last tournament of the season, the Racquet & Tennis Club Challenger event in mid-town Manhattan, was resolved in a five-game final as well when qualifiers Alex Stait and Ed Garno rose superior to Khan and Greg McArthur. All told, no fewer than 21 different players advanced to SDA finals this past season, 15 of them in full-ranking events, a far greater total than in prior years, and this level of depth and opportunity augurs well for the 2016-17 tour season and beyond.


Rob Dinerman was the Official Writer for the professional doubles tour throughout the 12-year period from 2001-13 and has played on the tour for the past 15 years. He recently authored “A History of Harvard Squash, 1922-2010,” published in October 2015, and has also written a squash anthology, “Selected Squash Writings,” available on Amazon.com.

A Look Back at the 2014-2015 SDA Pro Tour Season

The 2015 Men's World Doubles Final. L-R: Clive Leach, Ben Gould, John Russell, Damien Mudge.
The 2015 Men’s World Doubles Final. L-R: Clive Leach, Ben Gould, John Russell, Damien Mudge.

by Rob Dinerman

Dateline May 15th — When Clive Leach and John Russell defeated Damien Mudge and Ben Gould in five riveting games in early May in the final round of the 2015 World Doubles to clinch their third tournament win in six months, they thereby punctuated a terrific first season as partners, while simultaneously puncturing a Mudge/Gould winning streak that had grown to 27 matches (and seven tournaments) and pointing up the substantially changing nature of the competitive landscape atop the SDA men’s pro doubles tour. Their comeback victory from a two games to one deficit was an eyebrow-raising capstone to the 2014-15 campaign that complemented their prior wins at the Big Apple Open and the Tompkins Invitational, marking a return to the top-echelon level for Russell after several years of relative inactivity, and also constituting a unique longevity-proving achievement for Leach, who, amazingly, has now won more tournaments (seven) in the two and a half years since he turned 40 in mid-November 2012 than the total he amassed (six) in more than a decade on the pro-doubles tour prior to reaching this normally squash-success-dooming chronological milestone!

As well, this outcome put a definite damper on what was, statistically, a fifth straight dominant season for Mudge and Gould, whose numbers during their half-decade of partnership are truly compelling. They have recorded 49 tournament wins in 56 attempts over that span, including going nine for 12 — with wins in the Denver Club Invitational, the Maryland Club Open, the Jim Bentley Cup in Toronto, the Putnam Pro-Am Doubles in Boston, the North American Open in Greenwich, the David C. Johnson Jr. Memorial in Brooklyn, the Baltimore Cup, the Tavern Club Invitational in Cleveland and the Kellner Cup in New York — this past season, with a 36-3 match record. No other team has won more than four tournaments during that period, and at one juncture Mudge and Gould, who went wire-to-wire undefeated during their first season as teammates in 2010-11, won 46 straight matches and 14 consecutive tournaments.

The 2015 Kellner Cup final. L-R: Yvain Badan, Ben Gould, Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur.
The 2015 Kellner Cup final. L-R: Yvain Badan, Ben Gould, Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur.

But however admirable, indeed overwhelming, their tally over the years has been, it must be said as well that their few stumbles have been extremely costly and ill-timed, on both the practical and esthetic levels, coming as they have on some of the game’s biggest stages and for the most part in eerily similar and chastening fashion. They were unable to convert multiple-match-balls prior to the fifth game in both the 2011 and 2013 editions of the biennial Briggs Cup, whose $100,000 purse is by far the biggest on the tour, as well as in the final of the 2013 Boston event, and in all three cases they then lost the fifth game handily. This past year they were 0-2 in five-game matches, both losses coming against Russell/Leach, one of which occurred in New York in a Big Apple Open semi, the other happening, as noted, in the biennial World Doubles at the Onwentsia Club in suburban Chicago.

In both matches Mudge and Gould led two games to one after taking the third game 15-14, and in both cases after dropping the fourth game they fell too far behind in the fifth to catch up. Ironically the very degree to which Mudge and Gould obliterate their opponents most of the time seems to sometimes operate AGAINST them by leaving them less prepared to handle the exigencies of a pressure-packed moment on the rare occasions when they find themselves locked in a tight match against an elite team that has the courage and wherewithal to not back down when faced with their pace and athleticism. At crunch-time in the fifth game in Chicago, Mudge and Gould committed some damaging unforced errors and were unable to exploit the vulnerable state of a severely cramping Leach, who could barely stand up on his immobilized left leg but was still able to conjure up some reverse-corner winners at the end, including one at 14-11 that flat-footed Gould and brought an end to the 150-minute marathon.

The 2014 PDC Cup final. L-R: Yvain Badan, Ben Gould, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge.
The 2014 PDC Cup final. L-R: Yvain Badan, Ben Gould, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge.

Their one remaining setback this past season came in the final round of the PDC Cup in Atlanta at the hands of the tour’s No. 2 ranked pairing of Manek Mathur and his mid-2000’s Trinity College teammate Yvain Badan, whose fifth season as partners was also by far their most consistent, as signified by their 10 final-round advances (nine runner-up finishes, eight of them to Mudge/Gould, plus the Atlanta breakthrough) in 11 appearances, their sole pre-finals loss coming in a mid-January St. Louis semi against first-time partners Hamed Anvari and Viktor Berg, who then beat another first-year set of partners, namely Michael Ferreira and his former early-2000’s Trinity College teammate Jonny Smith, in the final. Anvari and Berg then went on to reach the semis of the North American Open and to capture the Challenger tournament in Germantown.

Though Ferreira and Smith went winless against the Big Three of Mudge/Gould, Mathur/Badan and Russell/Leach, they were frequent semifinalists throughout the season and also won the Challenger tournament in Virginia in decisive fashion. There were more sanctioned ranking tournament-winning teams (4); more finalists (six, including the Big Three, the two teams that contested the St. Louis final and Tompkins Invitational runners-up Bernardo Samper and Baset Chaudhry, yet another pair of Trinity College alums); and more semifinalists pairings (17) than at any time in the decade and a half that a formal pro doubles tour has existed, dating back to the formation of the International Squash Doubles Association in 2000, in what is clearly a marker of both how full the schedule and how deep and competitive the playing field have become.

The 2015 North American Open. L-R: Greg Park, Yvain Badan, Manek Mathur, Imran Khan.
The 2015 North American Open. L-R: Greg Park, Yvain Badan, Manek Mathur, Imran Khan.

Greg Park reached the semifinal stage a total of six times with four different partners, including with Imran Khan (three times) and at the World Doubles, where Park and Preston Quick, U. S. National Doubles champions in 2012 and 2013, defeated Ferreira and Smith in the quarters. Raj Nanda was a semifinalist with Park in St. Louis, with Fred Reid Jr. in Baltimore and with Leach in Cleveland. And Berg, a former ISDA No. 1 with Mudge from 2008-10 before a several-years hiatus from the pro circuit, returned in emphatic fashion this season, complementing his exploits as Anvari’s partner by attaining the semis with Jacques Swanepoel in Denver and with Reid at the World Doubles, where he also teamed up with Steph Hewitt to earn the Mixed Doubles crown by defeating Americans Quick and Natalie Grainger in the semis and Chris Callis and Amanda Sobhy in the final.

As mentioned, the 2014-15 season witnessed the successful emergence of several first-year partnerships consisting of longtime tour veterans who had never joined up on any extended basis prior to this past autumn (Russell/Leach, Ferreira/Smith and Berg/Anvari chief among them), but there were also some TRULY new teams composed of SDA rookies who made an immediate and significant impact. Of these by far the most noteworthy was the Toronto-based duo of Robin Clarke and Scott Arnold, friends from their mid-2000’s forays on the PSA singles tour, both 29 and teaching pros at prominent Toronto clubs (Clarke at Badminton & Racquet, Arnold at Cricket Skating & Curling) who, after entering the 2014 Canadian National Doubles, unseeded, unheralded and essentially on a lark, earned their way into the winner’s circle.

The 2014 St. Louis Open final. L-R: Hamed Anvari, Jonny Smith, Viktor Berg, Mike Ferreira.
The 2014 St. Louis Open final. L-R: Hamed Anvari, Jonny Smith, Viktor Berg, Mike Ferreira.

Deciding to give the SDA tour a try in the wake of that unexpected but decisive accomplishment, they then debuted with a third-place finish at the Jim Bentley Cup highlighted by wins over Willie Hosey and Mike Pirnak, Will Mariani and Jeff Lurie, Quick/Park and Gary Waite/Thomas Brinkman, following which they qualified into the main draw in Boston, won the Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger with a final-round 3-0 tally over Carl Baglio and Andres Vargas, successfully defended their Canadian National Doubles title with a close four-game win over Mariani and Brinkman, out-played Khan and Park en route to the semis in Cleveland and did the same to Reid and Khan in the round-of-16 at the Kellner Cup.

This flurry of compressed and consistently successful activity on the part of this pair of rangy athletes, whose victories for the most part were forged by excellent court coverage, impressive pace and an extraordinary degree of freedom from the tin, was enough to land them just inside the SDA top ten by season’s end, marking them as a team on the clear ascent and likely auguring even better things for them in 2015-16 as their front-court capability increases and they learn their way around the league. The SDA tour currently features an intriguing mix of emerging challengers, rejuvenated and in several cases re-aligned contenders, natural alliances and established reigning title-holders, whose standing atop the sport by all odds figures to be put to greater duress than ever next season if recent trends continue. The tour has consistently grown in prize money, sites and membership from one year to the next, and next season might well be the best ever for professional doubles in North America.

A Look Back At The 2012-13 SDA Pro Doubles Tour

When the Australian superstars Damien Mudge and Ben Gould defeated the English pairing of Clive Leach and Jonny Smith three games to love in mid-April at the Racquet & Tennis Club in mid-town Manhattan before a packed gallery in the final round of the biennial World Doubles, they capped off two and a half months of perfection during which they ran off the last seven tournaments of the SDA’s inaugural 2012-13 tour. After suffering consecutive-tournament mid-January losses in both Boston and at the North American Open in Greenwich to Leach and Paul Price, Mudge and Gould emphatically righted themselves, sweeping to sequential victories in Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Denver, Atlanta, Cleveland and finally New York, and dashing off 23 straight matches, all but five of them in straight sets. In light of their wins in each of the four autumn tour stops (the Maryland Club Open, the St. Louis Open, the Big Apple Open and the inaugural U. S. Open in Wilmington) prior to their pair of setbacks, Mudge and Gould finished off the season having won 11 of the 13 tournaments held under the SDA aegis this season, compiling in the process a record of 30-2, and lifting the overall totals of their three-year partnership to a won-loss record of 99-3, with 30 tournament wins in 33 attempts.
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Mudge And Gould Power Their Way To Men’s World Doubles Crown

In an overwhelming display of relentless firepower and ruthless efficiency, the top-seeded defending-champion Australians Damien Mudge and Ben Gould defeated British stars Clive Leach and Jonny Smith 15-8, 9 and 9 Monday night at Racquet & Tennis in mid-town Manhattan in the final round of the biennial Netjets World Squash Doubles Championships. It was actually the third straight time that Gould won this event (also in 2009 with Paul Price) and a record fourth overall title for Mudge, whose 2002 and 2004 editions he had earned with Gary Waite. Continue reading