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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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Arnold & Clarke Lift Largest SDA Title in Boston

The 2018 MFS Pro-Am Boston final, (l-r): Scott Arnold, Yvain Badan, Robin Clarke, Mike Ferreira

Canadian national doubles champions Scott Arnold & Robin Clarke started off the new year by winning their biggest SDA title to date–the platinum MFS Pro-Am Boston at the University Club and Harvard Club of Boston.

Arnold has spent majority of this season playing with John Russell and has risen to world No. 3 with his new partnership. Arnold had been entered with Russell until the Englishman was forced to pull out of the tournament two weeks leading up to it. Clarke, world No. 49,  filled in for Russell and entered the draw with Arnold as the four seeds.

The first two rounds saw just one match progress to five games as Bostonians Graham Bassett & John Roberts pipped Canadians Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro 15-14 in the fifth game. The top four seeds all progressed to the semifinals, where Arnold & Clarke and top seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan both won in three games.

A marathon final concluded the tournament with two big momentum shifts throughout. Arnold & Clarke edged the first two games 15-11, 15-14, courtesy of a few more errors from Ferreira & Badan. The top seeds came back in the third and fourth, however, cutting down their error counts to win 15-11, 15-11. The fifth progressed with a close scoreline until at 10-all, Clarke fired off a sequence of winners to claim the title 15-10.

“The first two games had a lot of long rallies and it was very competitive, but they made a few more mistakes which allowed us to keep the lead in those games,”  Clarke said. “In the third and fourth, personally, I started to fade a bit physically so I started to get a little lethargic with my movement, and they stopped making mistakes.  Mike started hitting some ridiculous winners. In the fifth it was pretty much anybody’s game and we were going back and forth. Around 10-all we won five in a row and I hit a few winners to close out the match.”

“It’s always tough to switch the momentum after losing a couple of games,” Arnold added. “But we had a good idea of what we were trying to do out there, it was just a matter of trying to get back to those things and staying positive.”

The MFS Pro-Am Boston marked Arnold & Clarke’s third career SDA title together and first since the 2016 Toronto Cricket Club Open.

(l-r): Lenny Bernheimer, Robin Clarke, Scott Arnold, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira, Amrit Kanwal.

“I think it’s one of the if not the strongest doubles communities around,” Clarke said. “The members are amazing. They treat the players unbelievably well. The committee, Lenny and everybody makes sure that when we land, everything is taken care of. So really we’re able to focus solely on competing and playing the best doubles we can. The Pro-Am component of it is great. The members are always fun to play with and you always meet someone new and make new friends. The other cool thing with Boston is walking through the club and seeing the previous champions listed and the pictures of them. It’s one of the most prestigious titles on tour in my opinion.”

The MFS Pro-Am Boston  was first held in 1992.

“The first event after the holidays is always a tough one, so it’s definitely nice to come out and get the win, having it be in Boston where we both love to visit and play is a bonus,” Arnold said. “The Squash community down in Boston is obviously a great one.  The fact that so many of the members, sponsors, friends, etc., turned out despite the snowstorm and freezing temperatures showed just how much they love their Squash down there.  Also that the support and enthusiasm levels are so high for this event year in year out, it really is a fun one to play.”

View images from the tournament on the SDA Smugmug page. Watch match replays below on the SDA YouTube page.

Mathur & Mudge Surge to Lift Biennial Briggs Cup

(l-r): Scott Arnold, John Russell, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge.

World No. 1’s Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge maintained their unbeaten record this season on their way to winning the pinnacle event of the SDA calendar, the biennial Briggs Cup at the Apawamis Club in Rye, New York.

The Briggs Cup, named after Apawamis pro and doubles stalwart Peter Briggs, has been held every two years since 2003 as the highest prize money event on the SDA Tour. The 2017 prize purse had $60,000 on offer for the full draw of sixteen teams.

The top seeds’ first win of the weekend came under unfortunate circumstances after John Roberts was forced to retire following an ankle injury. Mathur & Mudge then  controlled three-game victories in the quarterfinals against James Bamber & Clive Leach and against surprise semifinalists Raj Nanda & Greg Park.

The bottom half of the draw included the biggest upset of the tournament when unseeded Adam Bews & William Hartigan knocked out two seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan in a five-game quarterfinal 15-9, 15-10, 12-15, 14-15, 15-6.

After a rare first round default, three seeds John Russell & Scott Arnold progressed to the finals courtesy of two four-game victories over Will Mariani & Zac Alexander in the quarters and Bews & Hartigan in the semis.

It was the three seeds who started on the front foot in the final, speeding to a 6-0 lead and earning four game balls up 14-11. At 14-11, Russell sustained an ankle injury that required treatment, briefly suspending the match. Once wrapped up, the Englishman stepped back on court and slotted home a winner to give the underdogs a 1-0 lead.

A re-calibrated Mathur & Mudge edged out a close second game 15-13 to level the score, before pushing through the third and fourth games to claim the title 15-9, 15-11.

“Right from the start I think Damien and I were a tad uncomfortable,” Mathur said of the final. “We went down 0-6 very quick, but found a way to get some momentum heading into the second. The second game was close, but we won some crucial points at 10-13 down which was the turning point in the match for us. Both of us found our feet a bit more and started moving better and in turn the ball did too.”

The tournament involved an unusual amount of ankle issues, with Roberts, Graham Bassett, Will Mariani and Russell all sustaining injuries of varying severity.

“In the first round it was very unfortunate to see John Roberts go down, it was pretty bad and his ankle swelled up pretty quick,” Mathur said. “In the final I think JR managed to twist it slightly, but his movement through the rest of the match told us otherwise. He is deceivingly quick.”

While both Mathur & Mudge have previously won the Briggs Cup, Monday night marked the first their partnership’s first title. Mathur had previously won in 2011 with Yvain Badan, while Mudge adds to titles with Ben Gould (2015), Viktor Berg (2009), Gary Waite (2005) and Michael Pirnak (2003).

“The Briggs is always a special event for me,” Mathur said. “I learned a chunk of my doubles here working for Pete and have made some of my closest relationships at the club. The members and the staff hold a special place with me and being on that board twice now is a dream come true.”

The Briggs was one of the last titles on tour evading the Mathur & Mudge partnership until this weekend as they continue their second season together.

” I cannot thank City Squash, Briggsy, Peer, Steve Mandel, Tommy Clayton, Artie and Brian Walsh enough for running a first class event,” Mathur said. “We are all getting excited for two years from now to return to Apawamis for the 2019 Briggs Cup. Last but not least to my partner: talking about learning things, I have had the opportunity to learn from one of the game’s best daily. Being on court with Damien is a real treat and I look forward to our next event.”

Pro Doubles Tours Descend on Apawamis For Eighth Briggs Cup

The 2015 Briggs Cup final, (l-r): Yvain Badan, Ben Gould, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge.

The eighth biennial Briggs Cup, the highest prize money event on the SDA tour with a $60,000 prize purse, returns to its perennial home, the Apawamis Club, December 7-11.

The full main draw of sixteen teams includes four spots available via qualifying, which commences play Thursday, December 7.

Since claiming the 2015 Briggs Cup with now retired partner Ben Gould, four-time champion Damien Mudge returns with new partner and 2011 champion, Manek Mathur, as the top seeds and world No. 1 partnership.

The bottom half of the draw holds a potential rematch of the last month’s PDC Cup final between three seeds John Russell, the 2013 champion with Clive Leach, & Scott Arnold and two seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan, the 2011 champion with Mathur, in the semifinals.

Leach enters the draw with fellow Englishman James Bamber and a potential second round match against Mathur & Mudge. Viktor Berg, who won the title with Mudge in 2009, has a potential semifinal against Mudge with Jonny Smith.

The Briggs also includes a $20,000 WSDA draw with an eight-team main draw.  The final is predicted to be between top seeds Meredeth Quick & Suzie Pierrepont and two seeds Narelle Krizek & Stephanie Hewitt.

Watch matches live and follow live scores on www.sdaprotour.com/live.