Damien Mudge & Ben Gould are back to their winning ways having avenged 2013’s Putnam Pro-Am and December’s Briggs Cup losses with a five-game final victory over Putnam Pro-Am title-holders Paul Price & Clive Leach at the University Club of Boston.
In a tournament characterized by closely-contested, lengthy matches, Sunday’s final between joint world No. 1’s Mudge & Gould and world No. 4 and 3 Price & Leach proved to be no different as the two-hour match stretched to five games.
Unlike the two-and-a-half-hour, five-game Briggs Cup final that saw Price & Leach come back from 2-0 to win, both sides alternated games forcing a fifth game ultimately sealed by Mudge & Gould 15-12, 8-15, 15-3, 5-15, 15-8.
Their first win of 2014 marks Mudge & Gould’s third Putnam Pro-Am title as partners, Gould’s fifth having previously won alongside Price and Preston Quick, and Mudge’s eighth including wins with Viktor Berg and Gary Waite.
Elsewhere in the main draw, three matches remarkably ended on simultaneous match ball in the fifth game. The first of which came took place in the round of sixteen between the American-Canadian partnership of Graham Bassett & Ian Power and Shaun Johnstone & Baset Chaudhry. After winning the first game 15-12, then dropping the second and third 12-15, 11-15, Bassett & Power ground out the final games 15-14, 15-4.
Splitting two simultaneous game balls against Bassett & Power in the quarterfinals, four seeds Matt Jenson & Quick avoided the trend of going into five games advancing 15-14, 14-15, 15-10, 15-7.
Jenson & Quick enjoyed an early ten-point, first-game lead against top seeds Mudge & Gould in the semifinals, but could not hold onto the lead as Mudge & Gould powered through to the final 9-15, 15-10, 15-3, 15-10.
Seasoned singles professional Julian Illingworth qualified for his second consecutive SDA main draw, this time alongside twenty-four-year-old Chris Callis. Up 2-0 and on the verge of their partnership’s first main draw victory of the season, Callis & Illingworth’s lead slipped away to lose on simultaneous match ball in the fifth game at the hands of world No. 12 and 13 Jonny Smith & Greg Park 9-15, 9-15, 15-11, 15-13, 15-14.
Two seeds Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan dispatched Smith & Park in four games 15-11, 9-15, 15-10, 15-13 setting up their third matchup of the season against three seeds Price & Leach with both previous encounters resulting in victories to lower-seeded Mathur & Badan.
As they seem to have made a habit of, Price & Leach edged out the semifinal on simultaneous match ball in the fifth 15-13, 15-11, 9-15, 14-15, 15-14.
With more than half of the 2013-2014 SDA calendar complete, Mudge & Gould are pleased to start 2014 on a winning note.
“It felt great for us to turn it around from the Briggs loss and start the New Year with a win,” Mudge said. “Playing in Boston is a great experience. The organizers and US SQUASH Hall of Famers Tom Poor and Lenny Bernheimer do a great job. It’s run very professionally and the pros are taken care of very well. Looking ahead, we really enjoy the Chilton North American Open and the David Johnson Memorial at Heights Casino, both have a lot of history associated with them and common faces in the crowds.”