Two new names grace the Chilton Investments North American Open winners list harking back to 1931 in the halls of Greenwich Country Club as Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan captured the title for the first time against the player with the most NAO titles to his name, Damien Mudge, & Viktor Berg Monday night in Connecticut.
The Trinity grads, who spent most of their club professional careers in the Greenwich and Rye areas, enjoyed an easy start to the tournament at the expense of Graham Basset who was forced to withdraw with Andres Vargas during the second game of their first round match after sustaining a back injury.
“Imran was shooting the lights out and he got better as the match progressed and he got comfortable,” Mathur said. “The ball change and the hot court really helped change the momentum for them compared to the first two games where we controlled the pace and attacked well at the right times.”
“It’s probably the best I’ve seen Imran and Greg play together,” Badan added. “They really made it tough for us.”
Meanwhile in the top half of the draw, top seeds Mudge & Berg progressed to the final with four-game victories in both the quarterfinals over Trinity’s Antonio Diaz & Bernardo Samper, then reaching the final on simultaneous game ball in the fourth over Matt Jenson & Hamed Anvari.
The top two seeds met in a final for the third time this season with both partnerships winning one previous encounter–Mudge & Berg in Wilmington and Mathur & Badan in Boston.
A close final saw the first two games split 15-12, 5-15 before Mathur & Badan sped away with the third 15-4. At 14-14 in the fourth, Mathur smashed a nick to seal the partnership’s first NAO title.
“The final resembled Wilmington, which was close,” Badan said of their third final against Mudge & Berg this season. “The difference there being that they won the key points, but last night we capitalized during through at those crucial moments instead. There were a lot of momentum shifts. There was a lot of fight from both sides. It’s always tough when you’re up against some of the game’s greatest competitors of all time. It’s a great feeling of achievement to come through during those crucial points against a team of their quality.”
“The NAO has so much history and magic around the event,” Badan said. “To have our names on the winners board is an unbelievable feeling. This has been our area for almost the past ten years. We have so many friends and family here who supported us. It really felt like playing at home.”
The NAO marks both the first time Mathur & Badan have won consecutive SDA titles, but also defeated a team with Damien Mudge in it twice in a row.
Since 1999, the NAO has been hosted concurrently with the Harrow Greenwich Singles Invitational featuring top PSA men’s and women’s players.
Tournament proceeds and donations support the North American Open/Greenwich Open Scholarship Fund in partnership with US Squash, which provides financial assistance to participants in urban squash programs, as they elect to attend private secondary schools or college. To donate, visit the NAO/GO Fund page.
“Greenwich and Rye is home for us,” Mathur added. “We have spent so much time in the area post-Trinity that we have made a lot of close friends and extended family. It was definitely heart-warming to see so many familiar faces in the crowd last night and the general excitement the place had after we won. We can’t thank the Greenwich/Rye community for all their support over the years.
“I also want to thank all the sponsors (Lexington Partners, Chilton) and patrons for all their support to making this event happen year after year. The pro-am was bigger than ever and everyone made it out to their matches amidst Jonas which speaks highly about their love for our game. I want to thank Mark Hayden for carrying me to our pro-am win as well as everything Harrow and himself have done not only for me but for the other pro’s and game in general.”
The tour resumes this weekend in Pennsylvania with the $15,000 Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger.