Top seeds Damien Mudge and Ben Gould remained undefeated (four wins in as many SDA ranking events) this season by surging to victory at the Wilmington Country Club this weekend in the inaugural edition of the $30,000 U. S. Open Doubles Championship. They accomplished this with a trio of four-game wins over, sequentially, Jonny Smith and Greg Park, round-of-16 victors over Ed Chilton, head pro at the host club, and Jack Wyant; John Russell and John White, who had out-lasted fourth seeds Preston Quick and Matt Jenson in a captivating two-hour-plus five-game quarterfinal; and Manek Mathur and Yvain Badan, whom Mudge and Gould had similarly bested earlier this fall in the Maryland Club Open and Big Apple Open finals. There was also a $15,000 eight-team WDSA women’s tournament, which was won by Meredeth Quick and Steph Hewitt over the Tippett sisters, Natarsha McElhinny and Narelle Krizek.


Second seeds Mathur and Badan were almost ambushed in their opening-round Friday-night quarterfinal, when the upset-minded Imran Khan/Greg MacArthur pairing, who had earlier straight-gamed Hamed Anvari and Josh Schwartz  in the round-of-16, raced off to a two-games-to-love lead. After rallying through the 15-12, 5 and 10 remainder, Mathur and Badan defeated Paul Price and Clive Leach (3-1 quarters winners over former Trinity College teammates Jacques Swanepoel and Shaun Johnstone) in a match that hinged on the third game, when, with the match tied at a game apiece and Price/Leach narrowing the score to 13-14, Mathur cleanly passed Price with a sharp rail down the left wall, following which he and Badan finished off the match with a 15-5 fourth.


The top half of the 12-team draw had a mid-match tipping-point moment as well when Quick and Jenson, after winning the first game, saved a few game-balls-against to knot the second at 14-all, only to be then be stymied by a nick-finding Russell cross-drop winner that saved his team from a two-love deficit and keyed their eventual 15-10 fifth-game win. Russell and White then salvaged the third game of their Saturday-evening semi with the eventual champs, who, however, would take the close-out fourth and do the same in the next-day final, a 15-10 15-9 10-15 15-10 tally in which The Champs raced off to a 7-1 lead in the close-out fourth game that effectively sealed its outcome. It was Mudge’s record ninth tournament triumph in this venue while Gould, who also partnered Smith to the non-ranking Bentley Cup in Toronto last month, is therefore five for five this autumn.
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