Canadian national doubles champions Scott Arnold & Robin Clarke started off the new year by winning their biggest SDA title to date–the platinum MFS Pro-Am Boston at the University Club and Harvard Club of Boston.
Arnold has spent majority of this season playing with John Russell and has risen to world No. 3 with his new partnership. Arnold had been entered with Russell until the Englishman was forced to pull out of the tournament two weeks leading up to it. Clarke, world No. 49, filled in for Russell and entered the draw with Arnold as the four seeds.
The first two rounds saw just one match progress to five games as Bostonians Graham Bassett & John Roberts pipped Canadians Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro 15-14 in the fifth game. The top four seeds all progressed to the semifinals, where Arnold & Clarke and top seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan both won in three games.
A marathon final concluded the tournament with two big momentum shifts throughout. Arnold & Clarke edged the first two games 15-11, 15-14, courtesy of a few more errors from Ferreira & Badan. The top seeds came back in the third and fourth, however, cutting down their error counts to win 15-11, 15-11. The fifth progressed with a close scoreline until at 10-all, Clarke fired off a sequence of winners to claim the title 15-10.
“The first two games had a lot of long rallies and it was very competitive, but they made a few more mistakes which allowed us to keep the lead in those games,” Clarke said. “In the third and fourth, personally, I started to fade a bit physically so I started to get a little lethargic with my movement, and they stopped making mistakes. Mike started hitting some ridiculous winners. In the fifth it was pretty much anybody’s game and we were going back and forth. Around 10-all we won five in a row and I hit a few winners to close out the match.”
“It’s always tough to switch the momentum after losing a couple of games,” Arnold added. “But we had a good idea of what we were trying to do out there, it was just a matter of trying to get back to those things and staying positive.”
The MFS Pro-Am Boston marked Arnold & Clarke’s third career SDA title together and first since the 2016 Toronto Cricket Club Open.
“I think it’s one of the if not the strongest doubles communities around,” Clarke said. “The members are amazing. They treat the players unbelievably well. The committee, Lenny and everybody makes sure that when we land, everything is taken care of. So really we’re able to focus solely on competing and playing the best doubles we can. The Pro-Am component of it is great. The members are always fun to play with and you always meet someone new and make new friends. The other cool thing with Boston is walking through the club and seeing the previous champions listed and the pictures of them. It’s one of the most prestigious titles on tour in my opinion.”
The MFS Pro-Am Boston was first held in 1992.
“The first event after the holidays is always a tough one, so it’s definitely nice to come out and get the win, having it be in Boston where we both love to visit and play is a bonus,” Arnold said. “The Squash community down in Boston is obviously a great one. The fact that so many of the members, sponsors, friends, etc., turned out despite the snowstorm and freezing temperatures showed just how much they love their Squash down there. Also that the support and enthusiasm levels are so high for this event year in year out, it really is a fun one to play.”