What had heretofore been a fairly surprise-free 2012-13 pro doubles season was turned completely upside-down this past weekend at the University Club Of Boston, where Clive Leach and Paul Price engineered consecutive-round eleventh-hour match-ball-saving heroics to capture the $25,000 Putnam Pro-Am Doubles in compelling fashion. After extricating themselves from a fourth-game double-match-ball-against predicament, then dominating the 15-3 fifth game in their semifinal battle with Manek Mathur and Yvain Badan on Saturday, Price and Leach then exceeded even that performance this afternoon in their final against two-time defending champs Damien Mudge and Ben Gould, who confidently moved to a two-games-to-love lead and a third-game championship-ball opportunity, just one point away from what would have been a spotless three-match nine-game trip to their fifth SDA title in as many attempts this season.
But at this crossroads juncture, Leach extended the match by dead-nicking a mid-court forehand three-wall, following which he and Price completed their dramatic march to this championship by scores of 12-15 8-15 15-14 15-13 15-13. A furious three-point Mudge/Gould run evened the fifth game at 13-all, whereupon Price reflex-half-volleyed an out-of-the-blue backhand reverse-corner winner and Mudge, caught up front, tinned his attempted return. Their comeback victory snapped a 27-match Mudge/Gould winning streak dating back to the only prior defeat that they have suffered in their two-and-a-half-year partnership, a December 2011 Briggs Cup semifinal loss to Mathur/Badan in which Mudge/Gould similarly let a third-game match-ball get away. It also gave Leach his first pro-doubles title in the 63 months since he and Chris Walker won the 2007 Maryland Club Open, during which interim time he had attained 20 finals with five different partners, the most recent of which, the Jim Bentley Cup in Toronto this past November, came down to simultaneous-championship-point before Gould and Jonny Smith prevailed against Leach and James Stout.
As noted, Mudge and Gould swept through their half of the draw with consecutive 3-0 wins over Josh Schwartz and Hamed Anvari (round-of-16 winners over Walker and Mark Chaloner) and Preston Quick and Matt Jenson, 15-13 fifth-game quarters victors (by virtue of a shallow Quick cross-court winner on the final exchange) over Imran Khan and Greg McArthur, who had forced a fifth game after trailing two-love. In the bottom half, Canadian qualifiers Fred Reid Jr. and Thomas Brinkman had surprised Graham Bassett and host club pro Dan Roberts before falling to Mathur and Badan, while Leach and Price foreshadowed the greatness that awaited them with a sharp display of shot-making in a straight-set quarterfinal win over Smith and Greg Park.