One week after winning their first U.S. Open Squash Doubles title, Paul Price & Clive Leach handed joint world No. 1’s Damien Mudge & Ben Gould their first loss of the season to win their first Briggs Cup as partners—the largest prize money purse tournament on the 2013-2014 calendar held biannually at the Apawamis Club in Rye, New York.
Beginning with Saturday’s Quarterfinals, SquashTV’s inaugural coverage of a Squash Doubles Association tournament ended fittingly with a mammoth five-game, two and a half hour final broadcasted to a global audience live and free on YouTube.
Leading up to the tournament, Mudge & Gould had yet lose a match this season with five titles to show for it and their last defeat as partners dating back to January’s North American Open when they lost to Price & Leach in a four game semifinal.
Mudge & Gould’s start to the tournament indicated they were on their way to a sixth title as they comfortably dispatched Carl Baglio & Randy Lim, eight seeds Imran Khan & Mark Chaloner and four seeds Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan in three games.
Price & Leach’s route to the final was just as routine save for a tight semifinal rematch of their storied five-game U.S. Open semifinal from the previous weekend against Matt Jenson & Preston Quick in which the final three games were decided on simultaneous game balls. Their Briggs Cup encounter proved no different as Price & Leach again won two of the three games at fourteen all to advance to the final.
The final began with three-time Briggs Cup champion Damien Mudge & Ben Gould—2007 Briggs Cup champion with Price—edging out the first game 15-12. Between the first and second games, special tribute was paid by tournament organizers, players and attendees to SDA board chairman Kevin Luzak who was streaming the match live from the hospital after a recent heart attack on court.
The second game, although tight, was decided by a run of late forehand winners from Gould to separate the sides and give the tournament one seeds a 2-0 advantage.
Price & Leach re-strategized and quickly created a 7-2 lead in the third game, maintaining the pressure to pull away with the game 15-7 and opening up the match.
Price & Leach’s momentum carried into the fourth game as Price and Leach both shooting the lights out including a number of out-of-reach back hand drop shots by Price, unforced errors by Mudge & Gould, and fortuitous nicks in favor of Price & Leach. The game reached fourteen-all, and Price & Leach were handed another life-line as another tin gave them the point and game to force a fifth.
With the match duration already exceeding two hours and all four players exhausted, Price & Leach continued to pull off winning shots to reach a 12-6 lead. Mudge & Gould chipped away at the deficit including some blistering rapid-fire cross-courts between the former Briggs Cup champion partnership of Price & Gould. Price & Leach reached match ball at 14-11 and with a precise Price dropshot, the match and title was theirs.
Although two years away, the next edition of the Briggs Cup will have a new champion. Following the trophy presentation and after acknowledging the pro-am players, his partner Leach and final opponents Mudge & Gould, Price announced that the 2013 Briggs Cup is his last.
“Clive played unbelievably well tonight. He does move alright for forty-one,” Price said to the amusement of the crowd. “Thanks to Peter Briggs for everything you’ve done. The $100,000 prize purse is amazing to play for and we hope that’s the future of doubles moving forward. He puts on an amazing event, the fundraising and everything he does supporting CitySquash and all of you supporting his vision.
“I think this will be my last Briggs Cup unfortunately so it’s nice to win it one more time before moving back to Australia next year. Thank you so much for all the support over the years. I’ve been playing here since my singles days when I was twenty-one. I think I’ve come here every year since and it’s always welcoming so thank you for your friendship and hospitality over the years.”
All two hours and thirty-two minutes of the final and all other matches quarterfinal-on are available for free replay on SquashTV’s YouTube page.