With his three-game Chilton North American Open final win Monday evening alongside partner Ben Gould over Jonny Smith & Greg Park, Damien Mudge has broken Gary Waite’s record of ten North American Open titles with his eleventh in the seventy-fourth iteration of one of the most storied events on the Squash Doubles Association (SDA) tour.
Together, Waite & Mudge won six consecutive North American Opens from 2000-2006. Of Waite’s other four titles, three took place from 1997-1999 with Mark Talbott with his first in 1994 with Scott Dulmage.
Building on his six titles with Waite, the thirty-seven-year-old Australian picked up his seventh and eighth titles—shifting to the left wall from the right—with Viktor Berg in 2008 and 2010 before notching his ninth and tenth on the left wall with current partner Gould in 2011 and 2012.
“Gary was a great doubles player and friend who taught me a lot on and off court, and someone whom I looked up to,” Mudge said. “I’m grateful to have the opportunity to beat his record, which I didn’t think would happen. It was a special moment.”
Although pleased with their seventh title of the season, Mudge & Gould’s run was anything but easy as the joint No. 1’s were stretched to close four-game matches against Fred Reid & Raj Nanda in the quarterfinals 15-10, 15-10, 11-15, 15-10, and against seasoned veterans Chris Walker & Clive Leach in the semifinals 15-9, 15-14, 13-15, 15-10.
“We both struggled at certain times this weekend and I didn’t feel either of us were near our best at any stage during the tournament,” Gould said. “But, the one thing we do better than other teams is keep our heads, acknowledge what is not working, adapt and work out ways to win while not playing well. It’s so important to have a supportive partner like Damien during those moments.”
The bottom half of the draw included a number of significant upsets culminating in world No. 12 and 13 Jonny Smith & Greg Park reaching their first final of the season as a tandem.
Smith & Park upset world No. 9 and 10 Imran Khan & Mark Chaloner in a three-game quarterfinal before dispatching the surprise of the tournament, Baset Chaudhry & Michael Ferreira, 15-7, 10-15, 15-11, 11-15, 15-13 in the semifinals.
In their first competitive appearance as partners, qualifiers Chaudhry & Ferreira won just as many matches as Mudge & Gould having won two, three-game qualifying matches, knocking out two seeds and joint world No. 5’s Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan in three games, then eliminating higher-ranked Shaun Johnstone & Jacques Swanepoel in the quarterfinals.
Tour focus now shifts to the $40,000 David Johnson Memorial at Heights Casino in Brooklyn, New York, after an eighth successful tri-club hosted Chilton North American Open doubles and Harrow Greenwich Open singles at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club, and Round Hill Club.
The tour is once again grateful for the squash-hotbed that is Greenwich, Connecticut.
“I just enjoy being part of a prestigious and long standing event,” Mudge said. “The Greenwich community is very knowledgeable about Doubles Hardball and the history associated with the event, so with that being said everyone really gets behind it.”
“The NAO is a special event for Damien and I,” Gould said. “The Greenwich community has one of the largest pools of doubles players and enthusiasts in the country. The NAO has been a staple on our tour for many years and the playing body truly appreciates their ongoing support of our game.”