Damien Mudge & Ben Gould continued their unbeaten run, not dropping a game for a third consecutive tournament on their way to the inaugural Qualico Pro Doubles title in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Twelve teams converged at the Winnipeg Racquet Club to contest for the SDA Gold $30,000 prize purse in the first Canadian event on the 2013-2014 SDA Pro Tour calendar.
The fourth tournament of the season, and second gold tournament of the season once again saw the Australian joint world No. 1’s triumph in the first tournament of the season to play out according to seeding.
In the absence of respective regular partners Yvain Badan and Preston Quick, Manek Mathur and Matt Jenson forged a partnership that led them to the semifinals against Mudge & Gould. Mathur & Jenson endured a five-game quarterfinal test against Graham Bassett & Ian Power, in which the world No. 5 and 8 recovered from a 2-1 deficit emerging victorious in five games 15-14, 14-15, 6-15, 15-9, 15-7.
In the bottom half of the draw, two seeds Paul Price & Clive Leach turned around their form after first-round losses in the Maryland Club Open and St. Louis Open to win their first matches and reach their first final of the season.
Price & Leach began the final run with a four-game win over Canadians Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman to face three seeds Imran Khan & Greg Park in the semifinals, who needed five games to dispatch Charlottesville Open champions Chris Walker & Raj Nanda in the quarterfinals.
Khan was on the winning side of Price & Leach’s five-game, quarterfinal demise in Maryland alongside regular partner Mark Chaloner, and reignited his 2010 and 2012 Graham Cup-winning partnership with Park in Winnipeg.
Price & Leach showed no signs of repeating their five-game defeat in Maryland against Khan & Park, commanding the match in three games 15-9, 15-9, 15-10 to set up a final against familiar foes Mudge & Gould.
Like every match this season, Mudge & Gould rolled through their opposition in three games on their way to the finals defeating Fred Reid and Carl Baglio 15-11, 15-12, 15-9 and four seeds Mathur & Jenson 15-13, 15-12, 15-9 in the semifinals.
The final proved to be no different as the one seeds extinguished Price & Leach in three games 15-5, 15-4, 15-10 to win their third title of the season.
“Mudgie put in another stellar performance in the final and was able to create openings that others couldn’t,” Gould said. “Once the openings were there we were both able to capitalize and find our spots. We are playing together as a team better than ever at the moment, which has resulted in a dominant start to the season that we are looking to carry though to New York next weekend.”
“Ben and I are excited to be playing together,” Mudge said. “Knowing that we are on the back end of our careers, it gives us a little more incentive to do the best we can every time on court.”
There is a positive consensus from the players following Winnipeg’s first ever SDA Pro Tour event.
“It was great having the opportunity to go to a brand new site and have a 30k gold event on the calendar,” Mudge continued. “The crowds were enthusiastic and excited seeing pro doubles, and it was great to see so many happy faces with big smiles.”
“Gene Turk and the folks from the WSRC ran a top notch event, which was extra impressive as it was their first doubles tournament,” said American international Bassett. “I think the tournament was especially good for the guys based in Canada. They do so much traveling down to the States for tournaments, that I suspect it was nice to have one on home soil. Hopefully we’ll see a few more Canadian events sprout up next season. I’ll definitely be heading back to Winnipeg either way.”
“The players are extremely excited to have a brand new full ranking tournament in Canada,” Gould said. “Congratulations to Gene, Qualico and the members of the WSRC for putting on a first class event.”
Tour focus now shifts to the Big Apple Open in New York City November 7-11.