In a compelling display of confidence and control, Paul Price and Clive Leach surged to victory in the 29th edition of the North American Open Doubles this past weekend in Greenwich. After a straight-set quarterfinal win over Chris Walker and Mark Chaloner, Price and Leach duplicated the wins they had recorded in Boston two weeks earlier, out-playing first Damien Mudge and Ben Gould in the semis and then Manek Mathur and Yvain Badan by a 15-8 14-15 15-12 15-9 tally in the final. Zero for four in their combined matches against the Mudge/Gould and Mathur/Badan tandems this autumn, Price and Leach have now defeated both teams in each of the two January events, and unlike in Boston, where they had to save match-ball-against in each of those wins, this time they won in convincing fashion, 15-10 (after leading 14-6) in the fourth against Mudge/Gould and 15-9 in the fourth against Mathur/Badan. By out-playing this pair of rivals at the Greenwich Country Club, Price, who had won this event with Gould in 2007 and 2009, and Leach — who now has played in three of the four SDA-event finals since turning 40 in mid-November — consolidated their exploits in Boston, denied Mudge what would have been a record-breaking 11th triumph in this prestigious championship and established themselves, at least for now, as the best team on the SDA tour.
There were extremely close matches throughout the tournament — of the 11 main-draw matches, nine had at least one 15-14 game and eight went to at least a fourth game. John Russell and Imran Khan saved a fourth-game match-ball-against in their round-of-16 match with Canadian qualifiers Will Mariani and Fred Reid Jr., before losing to the eventual runners-up, who then had three airtight games in a semifinal with Preston Quick and Matt Jenson (3-1 quarters winners over James Stout and Greg McArthur) that went to 1-all, 14-all in the third game, whereupon Mathur lashed a forehand winner down the left wall, the crucial exchange in his team’s hard-earned 14-15 15-13 15-14 15-8 ticket to the final.
Waiting for them there, as noted, were Leach and Price, who after dropping the 15-13 first, had dominated the 15-6, 10 and 10 last three games against the two-time defending champs Mudge and Gould, and who were able to keep their younger opponents just enough off balance to stymie them in the final. Price had a great winner-to-error ratio all weekend (his tinned forehand reverse-corner attempt at 14-all in the second being a rare exception) and Leach came up with some perfectly-struck winners (including the last two points of the pivotal third game from 13-12 after a ball breakage) exactly when they were most needed. They collaborated seamlessly all weekend and fully deserved the victory that they achieved.