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.
Five years and one month after capturing the 2013 Graham Company Challenger title, James Stout & Greg McArthur have won their second SDA Tour Challenger event together—the Racquet & Tennis Club Challenger in New York City.
Stout & McArthur entered the eight-team main draw as the two seeds, while Fred Reid & Clive Leach opposed them as the top seeds.
The first round saw three of the four top seeds advance to the final, not including top seeds Reid & Leach who crashed out 15-12 in the fifth at the hands of Travis Judson & Ned Marks.
In the final, Stout & McArthur pulled ahead in the first two games 15-8, 15-10, but Swanepoel & Greenberg pulled one back in the third 15-10. Stout & McArthur regained control in the fourth to clinch the title 15-8.
“The spirit in which the final was played was really great,” McArthur said. “Jacques and Jordan are good friends of ours. Kudos to those guys for being good competitors and good sports. It was a competitive match, but we all had a great time out there. I think the spectators saw that and appreciated it.”
“We played well all weekend and knew if we could do that, we would be in with a chance of winning the event,” Stout said. “It feels great to have won the tournament and means even more being able to do it with Greg, at the Racquet Club, my home club. Can’t believe it has been five years since we won the Graham Company tournament. Hopefully it won’t be another five years before our next win.”
Stout, who also doubles as a full-time Rackets professional, and McArthur, a pro at Sleepy Hollow, normally only play a handful of SDA events throughout the season due to schedule constraints. The R&T Challenger was just their third event of the season, but not their only successful one.
“This season James and I have played a few tournaments together, and it’s been a relatively good run,” McArthur said.” We had a really good run in Brooklyn reaching the semis, and this felt like we were continuing that momentum. It’s nice to win again, I didn’t realize it’s been five years since our last win. We just haven’t played that many tournaments together in that time. James is such a great partner. He’s such a great athlete, he has great hands. He’s also an easy going guy, which makes him fun to play with. It’s always nice to get a win with someone you consider to be one of your best friends.”
The 2018 R&T Challenger was just the third iteration of the biennial event, which is helmed by R&T head pro and SDA world No. 1 Manek Mathur and R&T’s Liam Culman.
“It’s such a fantastic venue,” McArthur said. “Arguably, they have the most visually-stunning doubles court out there. With the sky lights and everything, it’s a beautiful place to play. A big thank you to Manek Mathur and his pro staff for the job they did running the tournament. It’s never an easy ask, and we really appreciate the work they have to put in to make the event happen. It’s just a fun place to play. The membership is a really knowledgeable group so it’s fun to play in front of them.”
“I personally really enjoyed the event, but that is because it is my home club and I know everyone involved, including all of the pro-am players,” Stout said.
The SDA season moves on to its penultimate event this weekend, the Tavern Club Invitational in Cleveland, April 26-28.
Continuing their momentum from an impressive run to the David C. Johnson Memorial final last month, Chris Callis & Bernardo Samper went one better at the 2018 Graham Company Cup, claiming their first title of the season this weekend at the Germantown Cricket Club.
The twelve-team draw played out according to seeding with the top four seeds advancing to the semifinals.
The weekend saw the return of John Russell following an injury spell that kept the Englishman off tour since December’s Briggs Cup.
Russell & Scott Arnold slotted into the draw as the top seeds, progressing to the final courtesy of a four-game victory against four seeds Clive Leach & Jonny Smith in the semis.
Callis & Samper moved through the bottom half of the draw with two clinical 3-0 wins against Bobby Burns & Hamed Anvari in the quarters and three seeds Matt Jenson & Greg Park in the semifinals.
In the final, Callis & Samper controlled the match to claim their first title of the season against Russell & Arnold 15-9, 13-15, 15-9, 15-10.
“I think our success in the Johnson was a gradual progression we were working towards all year,” Callis said. “We had played well in a few spots early in the season, but it took us a while to figure out the pace we needed to play at and to build confidence moving the ball to all four corners at that pace. We had a lot of confidence coming off of the Johnson, so we put extra effort into imposing our own game this weekend.”
The final was the first match up of the season between Russell & Arnold and Callis & Samper.
“JR and Scott are two of the best players out there, so we knew we would have to play really well to get by them,” Callis said. “We were disciplined with our game plan and Bernardo played really well up and down the left wall. It’s great it have JR back from injury and I look forward to playing those guys once JR is back to the top of his game.”
Callis & Samper have enjoyed their SDA tournaments in Philadelphia, with the Graham Company Cup following up their most recent title–the 2017 Tompkins Cup at Racquet Club of Philadelphia last April.
“Chris and I came this week with more confidence after having a great week in Brooklyn,” Samper said. “As the season went on we manage to improve little things in our games that lead us to winning our first tournament this season. As a team we did great at backing each other all season. If I had a flat day on the court, I knew I could count on Chris to perform, and vise versa. Scott and JR are great players and it’s really nice to see JR back. They’ve had a great season so far and I am looking forward playing more matches against them.”