Russell & Leach Rekindle Spirit of Tompkins

L-R: Clive Leach, Baset Chaudhry, John Russell, Bernardo Samper.
L-R: Clive Leach, Baset Chaudhry, John Russell, Bernardo Samper.

In 1904, an Englishman by the name of Fred Tompkins moved stateside to take up the head professional position at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia. Three years later, Tompkins—who was part of a tennis family dynasty in England—changed the landscape of American squash by inventing what is now known as North American hardball squash doubles.

In 1907, RCOP switched clubhouses where there were five squash singles courts, two racquets courts and a court tennis court. Tompkins singled out some unused space on the fourth floor of the clubhouse that was too large for another squash singles court, and too small and low-ceilinged for another racquets court. Tompkins instead created a brand-new game, squash doubles.

One hundred and eight years later, a tandem of Englishmen in the form of John Russell & Clive Leach aptly honored their countryman, championing what has become largely a North American sport in winning his namesake tournament—the Tompkins Cup.

Russell, world No. 6, & Leach, world No. 5, entered the $20,000 Tompkins eight-team main draw seeded first, and passed their opening test 15-11, 15-9, 15-13, against qualifiers Matt Domenick & William Hartigan.

The Big Apple Open champions then recorded another three-game semifinal victory over Greg Park & Preston Quick, who had fought off match ball against Trinity alums Carl Baglio & Andres Vargas to advance in five games.

The bottom half of the draw saw two more pairs of Bantams face off in the semis. After making waves in his SDA season debut in 2014, often partnering with Mike Ferreira, Baset Chaudhry returned to the SDA fold in his first appearance this season due to occupational obligations. Chaudhry, a Pakistani international, partnered with Colombian Bernardo Samper, winning their opening match to face his second-seeded former partner, Ferreira, and Jonny Smith. A five-game semifinal ensued with Ferreira & Smith edging to a two-game lead, but Chaudhry & Samper responding to win the third and fourth. With a final appearance against Russell & Leach on the line, Chaudhry & Samper prevailed in the fifth 15-11.

Monday evening’s final stood evenly after two games, with Russell & Leach taking the first 15-7, and Chaudhry & Samper taking the second 15-11. Russell & Leach regained complete control for the rest of the match, however, commanding the third and fourth games 15-4, 15-5 to win their second title of the season.

“It was great to win our second event of the season,” Russell said of their second title this season. “Being seeded and expected to win was a different sort of pressure for us.”

“The first game of the final, Baset and Bernardo were a little slow probably due to their long match the previous day, but they came back strong in the second,” Russell continued. “In the third and fourth games we extended the rallies a little more, got off to good starts and managed to keep the lead throughout the games.”

“I’d like to thank all of the Pro Am players and sponsors for making the event possible, and also to Rob Whitehouse and his staff for running a fantastic event.”

View all scores on the Tompkins Invitational tournament page.