As the locally-sponsored Sixpoint brew flowed freely at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn, New York, so did the game play of joint world No. 1’s Damien Mudge & Ben Gould as they won their third title of 2014 and the final $40,000 Platinum tournament of the season—The David C. Johnson Jr. Memorial—without dropping a game.
Mudge & Gould’s tore through the sixteen-team main draw first with two routine, three-game victories over Baset Chaudhry & Shaun Johnstone in the round of sixteen, then against the first-time partnership of Greg McArthur & Preston Quick.
The Australian World Doubles champions found a vocal crowd against them in the semifinals versus local qualifiers Michael Ferreira & Whitten Morris. Ferreira—currently housed by a Heights Casino member after returning stateside from living in Hong Kong—& Morris—a club member—won two qualifying matches to reach the main draw including a five-game qualifying final win over Phil Barker & Bernardo Samper.
World No. 17 and 18 Chris Walker & Fred Reid were Ferreira & Morris’ next victims in the round of sixteen as the local heroes pulled out a 14-15, 15-13, 15-8, 15-3 triumph. The underdogs’ run then climaxed as they eliminated three seeds and world No. 10 and 12 Imran Khan & Mark Chaloner 15-14, 15-10, 15-12 in the quarterfinals. The packed gallery duly acknowledged Ferreira & Morris’ remarkable tournament with a standing ovation as the top seeds dispatched the fan-favorites 15-8, 15-12, 15-4 in the semifinals.
For the second consecutive Platinum tournament, Ferreira reached the semifinals as a qualifier in addition to eliminating the two seeds on the way to a semifinal berth in the North American Open with partner Chaudhry.
For the fourth time during the 2013-2014 season, Mudge & Gould contested a final against world No. 3 and 4 Paul Price & Clive Leach, before which Price & Leach endured a grueling semifinal against joint world No. 5’s Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan that saw three of five games decided with simultaneous game balls and the higher seeds advancing 15-14, 15-11, 14-15, 14-15, 15-13.
Despite an early challenge of a simultaneous game ball in the first game, Mudge & Gould held off their opponents to win the second and third games 15-10, 15-9 to win their eighth title of the season.
Becoming a club professional at the Heights Casino this season provided added meaning to hosting the David Johnson for world No. 24 Graham Bassett. “In past years, I had always thought the Johnson was one of the coolest events on the tour.” Bassett said. “Working at the Heights Casino has given me an opportunity to help organize and run the event this year. I play nearly all the events on tour, so I wanted the event to be really player-friendly. We tried to take care of a lot of little details to make the players feel at home, and I hope we succeeded.
“The gallery this year was unbelievable. They were so loud and excited about the matches. I travel away from the club almost every weekend to play a pro event, so it was really fun for me to see the members I teach every week enjoying and appreciating what pulls me away from the club so often.”
Tour focus now turns to the Baltimore Country Club—hosts of the $25,000 Baltimore Cup February 27-March 2.