Damien Mudge augmented his record as the all-time winningest player of the world’s oldest professional doubles tournament, the David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial, winning an unprecedented fifteenth consecutive title—and fourth with partner Viktor Berg—this weekend at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn.
Mudge & Berg had won three consecutive Johnson titles together from 2008-2010 going into the weekend, and dropped just one game on their way to a fourth title together.
The top seeds eased through two three-game victories in the first two rounds of the tournament, before enduring their toughest test in the semifinals against four seeds Raj Nanda & Clive Leach. After losing the first two games 15-13, 15-8, Nanda & Leach sent the match into four winning the third game 15-14. The fourth stretched to 14-14 once again, but the top seeds pulled out the match 15-14.
The bottom half of the draw saw the tournament’s biggest upset in the form of a dramatic five-gamer that veterans Matt Jenson & Preston Quick pulled out over two seeds Yvain Badan & Manek Mathur, 15-14 in the fifth game.
Jenson & Quick earned an early lead against three seeds Mike Ferreira & Chris Callis in the semifinals, taking the first 15-8. Ferreira & Callis responded to advance to the final 8-15, 15-13, 15-16, 15-14.
The first-time finalists failed to challenge Mudge & Berg in the final, however, as the four-time champions raced to a 15-13, 15-6, 15-6 final victory.
“We are building our team chemistry again from a few years ago,” Mudge said of his partnership with Berg. “It’s a process that is enjoyable to be a part of. Every time we play, we get more and more comfortable with each other and the situations we have to figure out.”
Mudge’s fourth title with Berg adds to five consecutive titles with Ben Gould from 2011-2015, and six consecutive titles with Gary Waite from 2002-2007.
“It is very surreal to win the Johnson fifteen times in a row,” Mudge said. “Especially given the amount of history that is involved with the club and the tournament. Just to be a part of it is special within itself.”
The 2016 title is Berg’s fifth overall, which includes the 2001 title with Michael Pirnak.
“It feels great to win the oldest tournament,” Berg said. “The Heights is one of my favorite tournaments because of the history, the unique court and the general layout of the club.
“One of the keys to our success was our determination. Thank you to everyone involved for making this great tournament!”
The David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial is the oldest professional squash doubles tournament. In 1938, Ned Bigelow started an open doubles championship at the Heights Casino. It was the first tournament that allowed professionals to participate and paid them if they won. Until the 1960’s, the Heights Casino tournament was the only open professional doubles tournament. In 1965, it was renamed after the early death of David C. Johnson, Jr., who was one of the tournament’s driving forces.