Russell Wraps Up Banner Season By Earning World No. 1 Ranking in Buffalo

(l-r): John Russell, Scott Arnold, Tom Hayes, Greg McArthur, James Stout

The 2018-2019 SDA Pro Tour season came to a fitting conclusion with four of the season’s most in-form players–John Russell & Scott Arnold and Greg McArthur & James Stout–contesting a repeat Buffalo Club Pro Doubles final Sunday, May 12, in upstate New York.

Both sides were tested on their way to the final. Russell & Arnold entered the draw as the three seeds, and needed four close games to win their opener against Canadians Joshua Hollings & Chris Sachvie, 15-13, 11-15, 15-12, 15-11. Russell & Arnold then managed to dispatch two seeds Will Mariani & James Bamber in three games to reach the final.

Stout & McArthur, the top seeds, were on the brink of elimination in the semifinals, where they found themselves two games down against Omar El Kashef & Imran Khan. In the quarterfinals, Kashef & Khan had come out on top of a five game upet over four seeds Hameed Ahmed and Adam Perkiomaki, but this time couldn’t hold onto the lead as Stout & McArthur turned the match on its head to win 12-15, 14-15, 15-6, 15-6, 15-3.

Stout & McArthur carried their momentum into Sunday morning’s final and were on the brink of their second straight Buffalo final victory against Russell & Arnold, taking the first two games 15-9, 15-13 and holding a championship ball at 14-all in the third. Russell & Arnold fought off the championship ball to take the third, and mounted a comeback to clinch the title in five 15-10, 15-11.

“We lost against the same team in last year’s final so it feels great to get them back this year,” Russell said. “After winning the third the momentum seriously swung in our favor. Scott started the fifth game with five straight winners which was the lead we carried all the way home.”

Russell & Arnold celebrate their second title in Buffalo having won the inaugural event in 2017.

The result holds even more significance for Russell, who wraps up the most successful spell of his career by garnering the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career come June 1. The Englishman had already earned a career high ranking of world No. 2 in May on the heels of three straight titles at the Graham Company Cup and career-first title runs at the Tavern Club Open and Kellner Cup. The season-ending title marks Russell’s fifth of the season and twelfth overall.

“This season I’ve played with seven different partners, I’d like to thank all of them for helping me to achieve my first ever #1 ranking,” Russell said. “Tom Hayes runs a fantastic event! Buffalo is a great town with a great squash following.”

Over the course of the 2018-2019 season, Russell won two titles with Arnold, one with James Bamber, Greg Park and Chris Callis–who Russell displaces at world No. 1–reached the PDC Cup final with Hameed Ahmed, and made appearances with Dane Sharp and Yvain Badan early in the season.

 

Russell & Arnold Celebrate Milestone Kellner Cup Triumph

(l-r): Scott Arnold, John Russell, Peter Kellner, George Kellner, Chris Callis, Robin Clarke

John Russell & Scott Arnold both hit career milestones by lifting the biennial $50,000 Kellner Cup for the first time in their careers–their largest career titles on the SDA Pro Tour–Monday night, April 29, at the Racquet & Tennis Club of New York.

The result also marks Russell’s third consecutive title following up the recent Graham Company Cup and Tavern Club Open–another career first. The string of results sends the Englishman up to career high world ranking of No. 2 in May’s Tour rankings.

The SDA Diamond draw attracted a full field of sixteen partnerships, four of which progressed through qualifying draws. The quarterfinals produced one of the tournament’s biggest upsets when recently-crowned U.S. National Doubles champions Mike Ferreira & Whitten Morris took out top seeds James Stout & Greg McArthur 15-12, 12-15, 15-11, 15-13.

Russell & Arnold entered the draw as the four seeds in what was their first appearance together this season. After dropping a game against qualifiers Alex Stait & Ed Garno in the first round, Russell & Arnold righted the ship to win their quarterfinal against Will Mariani & James Bamber and semifinal against Ferreira & Morris in three games to reach the final.

The bottom half of the draw largely played out according to seeding. Three seeds Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan pulled off a five-game escape after going 2-0 down against Jonny Smith & Jacques Swanepoel to reach the semifinals. Two seeds Robin Clarke & Chris Callis, world No. 1, progressed through the draw efficiently without dropping a game on their way to the final, including a 15-8, 15-12, 15-10 semifinal victory over Samper & Badan.

The final proved to be a close contest with Clarke & Callis taking the opening game 15-14. Russell & Arnold rebounded to take the second 15-10 before narrowly taking the third 15-14 and fourth 15-13 to claim the title.

While the Kellner Cup marked Russell & Arnold’s first tournament together this season, the duo picked up where they left off last season.

“This was our first event together for eleven months, but it felt as if we practice together everyday,” Russell said. “Our playing styles really compliment each other, we’ve now played seven events together, winning three and losing in four finals. “I recently turned forty and know that I probably only have a couple of years left at being able to compete at this level. I’ve definitely felt more focused than ever on the court.”

Russell, a two-time World Doubles champion for England, celebrates his fourth title of the season–all coming with different partners–and eleventh overall title, while Arnold collects his seventh career title.

Arnold returns to the rankings’ top ten for the first time since December 2018 following the result, while Russell bests his previous career high ranking of No. 3 with the No. 2 position. Russell & Arnold will close out the season together as the three seeds in the Buffalo Club Pro Doubles draw, May 9-12.

The tournament’s namesake, George Kellner, presented the trophy to Russell & Arnold in front of a packed R&T gallery.

“Winning the Monday night final on a packed R&T court for the Kellner Cup would be the highlight of anyone’s career,” Russell said. “Jonny Smith, Damien Mudge and Manek Mathur all combined to make the event run extremely well with lots of extra perks for the players.”

2019 was the thirteenth iteration of the Kellner Cup, which was first hosted in 2000. The tournament was co-hosted by three New York City clubs: the University Club, Union Club and Racquet & Tennis Club.

 

 

May 2019 Rankings

1-May Name Country Tournaments Average 1-Apr
1 Chris Callis USA 8 3633.333 1
2 John Russell England 9 3558.333 5
3 James Stout Bermuda 10 3467.857 2
4 Greg McArthur Scotland 8 3379.167 3
5 Yvain Badan Switzerland 11 3058.929 4
6 Zac Alexander Australia 11 2748.214 8
7 Bernardo Samper Colombia 10 2744.643 7
8 Robin Clarke Canada 8 2595.833 9
9 Scott Arnold Australia 4 2285.000 27
10 James Bamber England 10 2216.071 11
11 Will Mariani Canada 8 2191.667 10
12 Manek Mathur India 3 2042.500 6
13 Mike Ferreira England 10 1760.714 15
14 Greg Park USA 7 1687.500 13
15 Hameed Ahmed Finland 8 1581.771 14
16 Whitten Morris USA 8 1570.833 16
17 Jonny Smith England 5 1525.625 32
18 Thomas Brinkman Canada 4 1460.000 12
19 John Roberts Ireland 9 1408.854 17
20 Clive Leach England 10 1323.214 19

 

Complete Ranking List

Russell & Bamber Rock Cleveland With First Tavern Club Title

(l-r): Rahul Mohan, James Bamber, Matt Brinn, John Russell, Dick Hollington, Bernardo Samper, Jack Herrick, Yvain Badan, Jack Turben, Jon Outcalt

England’s John Russell & James Bamber join the prestigious Tavern Club Open winners list after a successful partnership debut in Cleveland, Ohio.

Both Russell & Bamber entered the tournament with positive momentum on the SDA Pro Tour. Russell, world No. 5, had won the previous tour event leading up to the Tavern Club–the Graham Company Cup with Greg Park. Meanwhile, Bamber entered the tournament with a career high ranking of world No. 11 on the heels of inaugural SDA title in February–the Tompkins Cup.

The Englishmen entered the Tavern Club draw as the two seeds, opposing top seeds Bernardo Samper, world No. 7, & Yvain Badan, world No. 4.

The draw largely played out according to seeding with the top four seeds progressing to the semifinals, although the three and four seeds had to earn it in five-game quarterfinals. John Roberts & Hameed Ahmed, the four seeds, came back from 2-1 down to defeat Matt Domenick & Travis Judson 15-13 in the fifth, while Robin Clarke & Scott Arnold, the three seeds, held off a five-game comeback against Adam Bews & Colin West.

Saturday, April 13, made for an intense slate of doubles squash with both the semifinals and finals scheduled for the early afternoon and evening. The top two seeds both advanced to the final in four games. First, Russell & Bamber escaped 15-14 in the fourth to beat Clarke & Arnold. Samper & Badan then followed on to take down Roberts & Ahmed 15-8, 14-15, 15-9, 15-8.

In the final Russell avenged his PDC Cup final loss against the top seeds with Bamber, clinching the title 15-13, 13-15, 15-13, 15-8.

Russell celebrates his third title of the season, and first Tavern Club title having lost in the past two finals against Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge.

“It feels great to finally win this event after losing in the two previous finals,” Russell said. “Playing with James was a pleasure, he brings a lot of energy on the court with him and has the potential to carry on improving and being one of the best around.”

Bamber, twenty-three years old, continues his improving form with his second and largest career SDA title. The result also marks the first year that neither Damien Mudge or Ben Gould won the tournament since 2007.

“JR is a legend of the game so I was just trying to let him take the lead this weekend and help out where I could,” Bamber said. “I feel I’ve learnt a lot from playing with JR in just one weekend. It feels great to have another title in the bag for this season. I was looking back on the previous winners of the event and it’s a honor to be on the same board as them.”

The Tavern Club Open was first held in 2006.

“Ian Sly doses a fantastic job running an extremely organized event,” Russell said. “The Tavern Club members are very knowledgeable about the game and the size of the crowd made for a great atmosphere.”

April 2019 Rankings

1-Apr Name Country Tournaments Average 1-Mar
1 Chris Callis USA 7 3660.000 1
2 James Stout Bermuda 10 3467.857 2
3 Greg McArthur Scotland 8 3379.167 3
4 Yvain Badan Switzerland 9 3102.083 4
5 John Russell England 8 2910.417 7
6 Manek Mathur India 4 2830.000 5
7 Bernardo Samper Colombia 8 2660.417 6
8 Zac Alexander Australia 12 2564.063 8
9 Robin Clarke Canada 6 2315.000 9
10 Will Mariani Canada 7 2280.000 10
11 James Bamber England 8 1871.875 11
12 Thomas Brinkman Canada 5 1710.000 21
13 Greg Park USA 7 1687.500 16
14 Hameed Ahmed Finland 7 1626.250 14
15 Mike Ferreira England 10 1611.161 12
16 Whitten Morris USA 7 1435.000 23
17 John Roberts Ireland 8 1382.813 15
18 Adam Bews Scotland 9 1367.188 18
19 Clive Leach England 10 1323.214 19
20 Jordan Greenberg USA 12 1291.016 20

 

Complete Ranking List

PRO TOUR