SDA veteran Ben Gould won an unprecedented tenth Big Apple Open title—and fifth with partner Damien Mudge—over a span of eleven years, defeating first-time partners Manek Mathur & Chris Callis in the final Monday night at New York Athletic Club.
After John Russell & Clive Leach broke Mudge & Gould’s four-year title streak in 2014, the venerable Australian world No. 1’s returned this year to reclaim one of the most iconic trophies on the SDA tour, defeating a 2015 SDA Award-winner in each stage of the tournament.
Canadian national champions and SDA rookies of the year, Robin Clark & Scott Arnold, met the top seeds first in the quarterfinals, after advancing against Philadelphian qualifiers Alex Stait & Ed Garno. Clark & Arnold challenged the champions early on, winning the first game on simultaneous game ball 15-14. Mudge & Gould responded to win the match emphatically in four 15-11, 15-11, 15-3.
Sportsmanship Award winner Jonny Smith & Greg Park were next in the semifinals. Smith & Park took out the tournament’s four seeds and one defending champion, Leach & Raj Nanda, in a four-game quarterfinal. Mudge & Gould found themselves one game down again against Smith & Park, but once again dug themselves out of an early hole to reach the final 7-15, 15-7, 15-13, 15-8.
A familiar final foe in the form of Mathur awaited Mudge & Gould, but this time with first-time partner Callis, the 2015 most improved player of the year. Mathur & Callis topped a bottom half of the draw that saw three seeds Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan exit the tournament in their first match against Viktor Berg & Hamed Anvari, whom Mathur & Callis defeated in a four-game semifinal.
The two seeds acquitted themselves well in the final. Although the top seeds had a clear edge to win the first 15-9, Mathur & Callis stayed within reach of the world No. 1’s throughout the second and third games, pushing them to decisive simultaneous game balls in each game. Mathur & Callis held game ball in the third, but Mudge & Gould rattled off two points to claim the title.
The final is available for replay on the SDA Live YouTube page.
The SDA tour resumes this weekend with the $40,000 PDC Cup in Atlanta, Georgia.