Russell & McArthur Capture St. Louis Open Title in Partnership’s Debut

(l-r): Greg McArthur, John Russell, Adam Bews, Colin West

Top-five-ranked veterans John Russell & Greg McArthur enjoyed a successful debut together by decisively capturing the 2019 St. Louis Open title without dropping a game November 7-9 at the Racquet Club of St. Louis.

Russell & McAthur overcame two Canadian teams in three games on their way to the final. First, Mark Porter & Rafik Bhaloo in the quarterfinals 15-1, 15-10, 15-7. After a close 15-14 opening game in the semifinals against Joshua Hollings & Martin Henderson, Russell & McArthur plowed through 15-1, 15-5 to reach the final held later that evening.

Hollings & Henderson proved that they are an up and coming partnership having produced the biggest upset of the tournament in the quarterfinals–a five-game comeback over four seeds Clinton Leeuw & Omar El Kashef.

In the bottom half of the draw, Canadian two seeds Will Mariani & Cole Osborne quickly progressed to the semifinals after just three points due to a ruptured Achilles sustained by Matt Jenson. Jenson’s attempted come back this year now comes to an end, and follows rupturing his other Achilles  at the PDC cup in 2014. Former St. Louis-based pro Adam Bews & Colin West then took out the two seeds in the semifinals 15-12, 15-3, 5-15, 15-5.

In the final, Russell & McArthur crucially took their second 14-all point of the game in the second to secure the title 15-11, 15-14, 15-7.

The title marks both Russell & McArthur’s first of the season. A different partnership has now won all four SDA events of the season thus far. The title also boosts Russell’s bid to retain the world No. 1 ranking, having reclaimed it this month after Chris Callis took the mantle in October.

“I’ve lost in the final a few times so it’s great to finally get my name on the trophy,” Russell said. “Playing with Greg was a real pleasure, we both like to shoot so it made for some exciting squash. Mike Puertas runs a fantastic event and the members are very knowledgeable and appreciative. I’ve made some great friends at the club over the years so always try to fit the event into my schedule.”

The St. Louis Open, founded in 2002, returned as a full ranking event having been held as an invitational in 2018 and substituted for the World Doubles Championships in 2017, which Russell won.

“John and I have had a couple of great battles while on opposing teams over the years so it was nice to finally team up for an event,” said McArthur, the world No. 5. “Our personalities match up well so it made for some good squash and an enjoyable on court experience. St. Louis was the first doubles event I ever traveled to, almost ten years ago. It’s really special to finally win the event. It’s a great club and I really want to thank Mike Puertas and the members for making us pros feel at home.”

 

 

 

Alexander & Clarke Collect Second SDA Title and First of the Season in Westchester

(l-r): Zac Alexander, Scott Arnold, John Russell, Robin Clarke

Zac Alexander & Robin Clarke earned their partnership’s second career title and first of the season, however the accolades came in unfortunate circumstances after the withdrawal of Manek Mathur due to injury ahead of the Westchester Country Club Pro Doubles final Monday, November 4, in New York.

Alexander & Clarke continued to build on their positive momentum from their first two events of the season leading into Westchester. After a second round exit in the season-opening Maryland Club Open, Alexander & Clarke improved by reaching the Big Apple Open final, where they narrowly lost as a result of third and fourth games dropped at 14-all.

In Westchester, the three seeds decisively reached the semifinals with a 3-0 win over Canadians Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman to set up an encounter with two seeds John Russell & Scott Arnold.

In a match up that could have been a final in any other draw, Clarke & Alexander pulled off a remarkable five-game comeback that included two 14-all points in the fourth and fifth games to win 13-15, 13-15, 15-5, 15-14, 15-14.

“Coming from 2-0 down doesn’t really surprise robin and I anymore I don’t think,” Alexander said. “More often than not we’re grinding for 90+ minutes so when it gets long, we back ourselves in. Super proud of how we fought and dug deep.”

Meanwhile in the top half of the draw, top seeds Manek Mathur & Chris Callis eased their way though to the final with three swift games over Ryan Cuskelly & James Bamber in the quarterfinals and John Roberts & Hameed Ahmed in the semifinals.  Things took a turn for the worse towards the end of their third game in the semis, however, when Mathur’s sustained a rolled ankle. The injury was enough to keep Mathur off court in Monday’s final, resulting in a withdrawal.

Alexander & Clarke add their Westchester title to their inaugural North American Open title last season.

“It’s never good for the club to not have a final,” Alexander said. “Unfortunately for Manek he’s been unlucky with his body lately, but he’s such a diligent athlete he’ll be back very soon. Great to get a win this early in the season and kind of makes up for missing out last week at the Big Apple Open where this time we we’re on the losing end of two sudden death games against Stout and Swiss.”

 

November 2019 Rankings

1-Nov Name Country Tournaments Average 1-Oct
1 John Russell England 9 3922.917 2
2 Chris Callis USA 8 3566.667 1
3 James Stout Bermuda 10 3287.500 3
4 Scott Arnold Australia 5 3282.500 4
5 Greg McArthur Scotland 7 3127.500 5
6 Yvain Badan Switzerland 11 3091.071 7
7 Zac Alexander Australia 9 2764.583 9
8 Robin Clarke Canada 9 2660.417 10
9 Bernardo Samper Colombia 10 2616.071 8
10 James Bamber England 9 2418.750 11
11 Will Mariani Canada 8 2191.667 12
12 Mike Ferreira England 10 1812.500 13
13 Whitten Morris USA 6 1610.000 16
14 Greg Park USA 5 1542.500 14
15 Hameed Ahmed Finland 7 1514.375 15
16 Will Hartigan USA 7 1462.500 19
17 Manek Mathur India 2 1400.000 6
18 John Roberts Ireland 7 1321.250 18
19 Jacques Swanepoel South Africa 5 1318.750 20
20 Colin West Canada 7 1256.875 25

 

Complete Ranking List

Badan Defends Big Apple Open Title; Stout Celebrates First Title of the Season

(l-r): Kipp Sylvester, James Stout, Yvain Badan, Robin Clarke, Zac Alexander

World No. 7 Yvain Badan reunited with world No. 3 James Stout to successfully defend his Big Apple Open title and extend the partnership’s winning form at the New York Athletic Club in New York City.

Badan & Stout had originally entered the SDA Gold draw with their regular partners, Bernardo Samper and Greg McArthur, respectively. However, both Samper & McArthur sustained injuries in the semifinals of the Maryland Club Open earlier this month, keeping them off court in New York City.

Last season, Badan & Stout put together a title-winning run at the 2018 Westchester Country Club Open in what was their partnership’s debut and as a result, the partnership was a natural fit for the Big Apple Open where they led the draw as top seeds.

The top seeds eased their way through to the final in the top half of the draw courtesy of three-game quarterfinal and semifinal wins over Adam Bews & Colin West and Mike Ferreira & William Hartigan, respectively.

The bottom half of the draw nearly saw the finalists, Robin Clarke & Zac Alexander, crash out in their opening quarterfinal match against Andres Vargas & Jacques Swanepoel. Vargas & Swanepoel fended off a two-game deficit to force a fifth game, where they narrowly lost out 15-13.

The close quarterfinal spurred on Clarke & Alexander to produce a major semifinal upset over world No. 1 Chris Callis & two-time Big Apple Open champion Manek Mathur 11-15, 15-10, 15-13, 15-5.

The NYAC crowd enjoyed a climactic two-hour final on Monday night, October 28, as Badan & Stout prevailed in four games over Clarke & Alexander 14-15, 15-9, 15-14, 15-14.

“The final was physically and mentally exhausting,” Stout said. “To be on court for just under two hours and to sneak out the victory 3-1, tells how grueling it was. We knew it was going to be a tough match against Zac and Robin after their great win in the semis over Manek and Callis, but we stayed strong and managed to play the big points well.”

“Zac and Robin are an unbelievable team,” Badan said. “Their semifinal match was truly impressive. The way they executed their game plan was brilliant. So going into the finals, we knew it was going to be a long, hard-fought final. Mentally and physically were were prepared for it. We also believed in our game plan and our ability to implement it on court.”

Badan and Stout have often faced off against each other on the SDA tour, but have now won both tournaments where they’ve joined forces. Both Badan, the 2018 Big Apple Open champion with Samper, and Stout mark their first titles of the season.

“Playing with James is awesome,” Badan said. “He covers the court exceptionally well which really boosts your team’s confidence! We seem to be pretty successful at implanting or game plan as a team, which makes it all the more efficient.”

“It was a tough first tournament for both of our teams with Greg and Bernardo hurting themselves in the semifinals of Maryland,” Stout said. “It was touch and go till last weekend on whether they would be able to play, but they both decided to give their recoveries a little longer. After winning Westchester last year, it was reasonably comfortable getting back on court with Swiss and picking up where we left off. Having played with and against him so many times, you get a feel for each others style of play, and ours luckily matches up pretty well. Thanks to all of the sponsors, members and pros of the New York Athletic Club for putting on such a great event.”

Stout, world No. 3, engraves his name on the Big Apple Open for the first time in his second tournament appearance. The Big Apple Open has been hosted by NYAC since 2004.

 

Award Winners Recognized at U.S. Open

Graham Bassett, the Squash Doubles Association (SDA) tour director, presented the association’s annual awards on court yesterday at the 2019 FS Investments U.S. Open. Bassett spoke about the benchmarks of the men’s professional tour: events were contested in twenty cities across Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. with prize money totaling more than $600,000. “As a player-run tour,” Bassett said, “these awards are particularly impactful for players as they are recognitions from their peers.”

Colin West was given the 2019 Rookie of the Year Award. West won the Pittsburgh Golf Challenger in February and rose to No. 25 in the SDA rankings.

The Most Improved Player Award went to Hameed Ahmed. He was a finalist at the Denver Club Open and the Piedmont Driving Club Cup in Atlanta and was a semifinalist at the Tavern Club Open in Cleveland. In just three seasons on tour, Ahmed, the associate head coach at Harvard, has risen to No. 15 in the world rankings.

The Team of the Year Award was given to James Stout & Greg McArthur. This tandem captured the Baltimore Cup and were finalists at the Maryland Club Open, North American Open, and the David C. Johnson Jr. Memorial.

John Russell won the Player of the Year Award. Russell, playing with five different partners, reached eleven finals and won five events, including the prestigious Kellner Cup. His impressive season saw him finish atop the SDA rankings.

The Sportsmanship Award was given to Greg McArthur. “This player was selected by his peers,” Bassett said, “as a consummate gentleman on and off the court. He plays clean and never exchanges a negative word with opponents on court, all while achieving a career high No. 4 ranking.”

SDA Tour Director Graham Bassett (l) with SDA award recipients.(l-r) John Russell, Greg McArthur, James Stout and Hameed Ahmed

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