Australian world No. 1’s Damien Mudge & Ben Gould emphatically avenged their World Doubles final loss in May by defeating England’s John Russell & Clive Leach in a three-game Maryland Club Open final Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.
All matches are available for replay on SDA live.
The five-time defending champions then dispatched SDA rookies of the year Robin Clark & Scott Arnold in the semifinals Saturday evening. Clark & Arnold made a strong first impression for the new season by defeating Philadelphia’s Ed Garno & Alex Stait in the first round, then upsetting fourth-seeded Trinity graduate duo Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan in a four-game quarterfinal.
World Doubles champions Russell & Leach made a seamless run to the final with two, three-game victories, including over new partnership Michael Ferreira & Chris Callis in the semifinals. Callis collected the Most Improved Player award Saturday night having risen to world No. 17 from world No. 33, and enjoyed a successful start to the season with his new partner, Ferreira.
Ferreira & Callis knocked out tour veterans Matt Jenson & Preston Quick in the first round, then upset three seeds and Ferreira’s primary partner from last season, Jonny Smith with Greg Park, in a four-game quarterfinal.
In the semifinals, Russell & Leach capitalized on two simultaneous game balls in the first the third games, to defeat Ferreira & Callis in three and reach the final.
Last may in Chicago, Russell & Leach upset Mudge & Gould in a five-game World Doubles final to win England the title in the season-ending tournament. After a five-month break, Mudge & Gould returned refocused to win their sixth consecutive Maryland Club Open title 15-10, 15-9, 15-9.
“I wasn’t thinking about May, I was focused on what we needed to do to win today,” Gould said. “Damien & I talked through a strategy we thought would see us through. It was a shift from our normal gameplay & we thought we may risk losing a game—or even two—but believed if we kept to it, no matter what was happening, we would prevail over the course of the match.”
After winning eight titles last season and boasting a league-best 28-3 record, Gould is pleased to start the new season with the $40,000 title.
“Even if you feel prepared, the first event of the season is always tough,” Gould continued. “Nothing can compare to competitive match play so to get a win under our belt after five months off tour is an immense and immediate confidence builder.”
Saturday’s inaugural SDA awards honored Andrew Cordova and the Maryland Club Open as the Tournament of the Year.
“Andrew Cordova has always run a first class event,” Gould said. “The title is well deserved. He has been an integral ambassador for our sport and tour, far beyond the walls of the Maryland Club. We thank him for his ongoing passion!”
The 2015-2016 SDA tour resumes October 23-25 with the $20,000 Missouri Athletic Club Open in St. Louis.