L-R: Damien Mudge, Ben Gould, Stewart Shettle, Andrew Cordova, Manek Mathur, Yvain Badan, Hugh McGuirk.

Joint world No. 1’s Damien Mudge & Ben Gould claimed their second full-ranking and largest prize money title of the season in the eleventh Maryland Club Open this weekend in a repeat final of the Denver Club Invitational.

The Australian duo dropped their only game of the tournament in their first match against new partners and Harrow UVA Challenger Champions Mike Ferreira & Jonny Smith, a partnership that both Mudge & Gould tipped to be a rising force on the tour this year.

“Ferreira and Smith will be a solid partnership once Jonny starts to feel comfortable on his switch to the right wall,” Gould said. “I anticipate them upsetting a few top teams as the season progresses.”

Mudge & Gould raised their game in their semifinal match against Matt Jenson & Greg Park, who they dismissed in three games 15-11, 15-8, 15-7 to set up a rematch of the Denver Invitational final against second seeds and world No. 5 and 4 Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan.

In both of their matches leading up to the final, Mathur & Badan recovered from dropping the first game 15-14 to win including winning their match against second-seeded John Russell & Clive Leach on simultaneous game-ball in the fourth game.

SemifinalWhat ensued was a more fluid final compared to the four-game Denver Invitational with longer rallies, but the same result with the favorites emerging victors.

“The final was better quality than Denver,” Mudge said. “With it being the second tourney and using a regular ball everyone had more ball control and the quality of the rallies were better.”

“The rallies were longer and more accurate, perhaps given that both teams had their first tournament of the season under their belt,” Gould continued.

“Mathur & Badan relentlessly held to a game plan of keeping Mudge deep and high on his backhand throughout the match. Fortunately for us, Mudge played an incredible defensive game and was extremely patient, waiting as long as it took to create openings before attacking.”

Mudge & Gould’s title marked their fifth consecutive at the Maryland Club as partners. Gould won two with Paul Price in 2006 and 2008, and Mudge won three straight titles with Gary Waite in 2003, 2004, and 2005.

“The Maryland Club and Andrew Cordova run a great event from start to finish; very professional and a fun time,” Mudge reflected.

“Andrew has consistently organized one of the best tournaments on the pro doubles tour calendar year since day one,” Gould added. “His event is one we use as a model for other clubs to duplicate. Congrats to him and his team for once again pulling off a flawlessly organized event.”

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