Trailing 5-0 in the opening game against an opponent that had defeated them twice in a row last month, Ben Gould and Damien Mudge exploded on an 11-1 run and never looked back in a convincing 15-11, 8 and 8 victory over Paul Price and Clive Leach this evening in the final round of the $20,000 Tompkins Invitational before an appreciative crowd at the Racquet Club Of Philadelphia. In the wake of their January losses to Price and Leach in the Boston final and a Greenwich semi, Mudge and Gould ripped through the Tompkins draw in general (three matches, nine games) and the final in particular with a thoroughness and degree of domination that seemed deliberately designed to send a message about the unlikelihood of a recurrence of their recent mini-slump anytime soon. After having their power blunted (and the Price/Leach shot-making skills abetted) somewhat a few weeks ago by the Greenwich Country Club’s slow front wall, Mudge and Gould took full advantage of the lively court conditions of the downtown Philadelphia venue, forcing a stifling pace throughout and eventually eliciting a string of errors from a clearly deflated Price as the rout wore on.

Neither team lost a game en route to their inevitable Monday-night showdown, with Mudge and Gould dispatching qualifiers Hamed Anvari and Josh Schwartz and then current Philly denizens John Russell and John White, quarterfinal winners (after trailing two games to one) over Greg Park and Jonny Smith in the only main-draw match to exceed three games. Price and Leach debuted against Graham Bassett and Dan Roberts, following which they faced Imran Khan and Greg McArthur, who in their opener had taken the measure of qualifiers Carl Baglio and Gilly Lane. After dropping the first game 15-9, Khan and McArthur were able to earn a 12-11 lead in the second, only to then surrender four straight points and 19 of the last 23 as Price and Leach ran off with the last game 15-4. As noted, the Price/Leach point-winning streak continued through the first five points of the final before being emphatically truncated by a Mudge/Gould surge that continued right through the final point.

As has happened several times already this season, some of the most entertaining and closely-contested matches occurred in the qualifying rounds. Baglio and Lane were pressed to 14-all in the fifth by local entrants Alex Stait (who tinned a potential winning backhand reverse-corner on the last point) and Ed Garno before out-playing Canadians Fred Reid Jr. and Will Mariani in one bracket, while in the other, Tom Harrity and Matt Domenick shocked recent Gold Racquets winners Trevor McGuinness and Todd Ruth before losing to Anvari and Schwartz.

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