Picking up where they left off at the end of last season, top seeds Damien Mudge and Ben Gould christened the brand-new Squash Doubles Association (SDA) tour in style by charging to victory this past weekend in the eighth annual $20,000 Maryland Club Open. In so doing, Mudge and Gould won their 20th tournament in 21 attempts over the last two-plus seasons, though the stern challenge they received in a sensational route-going (12-15 15-13 15-13 12-15 15-7) Sunday morning final from second seeds Manek Mathur and Yvain Badan constitutes a compelling augury of a rivalry that well may define the entire upcoming 2012-13 campaign.

All but one of the seven main-draw matches either went to at least a fourth game or had one or more 15-14 tallies, which was also the case in five of the seven matches contested in the qualifying flights. John Russell and former PSA No. 1 John White saved a third-game triple-match-point-against them and wound up pushing Preston Quick and Matt Jenson to 13-all in the fifth, before White unaccountably slipped to the floor in the middle of the ensuing exchange, costing his team that point and giving his opponents the momentum to close the match out immediately thereafter. Quick and Jenson then played Mudge and Gould (first-round 3-0 winners over 2009 U. S. Pro champs Chris Walker and Mark Chaloner) much closer in the semis than the 15-9, 12 and 11 score implies, staying even through the first half of each game before the eventual champs made quick three- and four-point runs and closed each game from there.

Meanwhile, in the bottom half, former mid-2000’s Trinity College teammates Mathur and Badan first out-lasted qualifiers James Stout and Greg McArthur in four and then faced the newly formed pairing of Clive Leach and Paul Price, quarterfinal 15-13 in the fifth winners over Greg Park and Jonny Smith, in a semifinal match marked by contentious battling on the left wall, where Mathur noticeably out-played his veteran counterpart Price, who unsuccessfully tried everything he could to throw Mathur off his game, including refusing to shake hands with him at the match’s conclusion.

The outcome of the ensuing final appeared in severe doubt until the outset of the fifth game, during which Mudge and Gould, who had tinned more than usual in the early part of the match, each contributed front-side nicks to the 7-1 early margin that effectively sealed the eventual 15-7 outcome.

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