Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge accomplished an undefeated season when the world No. 1’s successfully defended their SDA Gold Tavern Club Invitational title in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mathur & Mudge’s 2017-2018 season ends with a fifty-four match unbeaten streak, six titles and retaining the joint world No. 1 ranking.
While the final was no surprise between the top two seeds, the twelve-team draw produced two shock quarterfinal results that sent both the three and four seeds out of the tournament.
The top half of the draw saw Adam Bews & Colin West dispatch four seeds Clinton Leeuw & Omar El-Kashef in three games to reach their first semifinal together, where they would ultimately fall against Mathur & Mudge.
In a familial affair, John Roberts & Jordan Greenberg opened their tournament by defeating Joey Roberts & Gavan Hitchenor. Roberts & Greenberg nearly squandered a two-game lead in their quarterfinal against four seeds Mike Ferreira & Zac Alexander, who just won a doubles gold medal at the Commonwealth games. After dropping the fourth on simultaneous game/match ball, Roberts & Greenberg pulled off of the upset 15-11 in the fifth to reach the semis.
Two seeds John Russell & Scott Arnold reached their third final of the season without dropping a game, ending Roberts & Greenberg’s run in a three-game semifinal.
Russell & Arnold carried their momentum into the final against the top seeds in their first match up since the Briggs Cup, decisively winning the first game 15-6. Mathur & Mudge regained their composure during the break, however, tipping the match in their favor to claim the title 6-15, 15-10, 15-14, 15-10.
“Russell & Arnold are a great team,” Mudge said of the PDC Cup champions. “They have good ball control and good structure on court, so we had to adjust our games in order to come back from the first game loss. If you are going to beat that team it will take patience and precise structure.”
“Matches against them are always well contested and we were ready for a battle,” Mathur said. “The first game was them really finding their groove and us being on our heels and not pushing up in the court. We had to slow the ball down a bunch and really be disciplined with our game plan for the next few games.”
Mudge now marks his fourth career undefeated season on the pro doubles circuit, having previously recorded one undefeated season with Ben Gould and two with Gary Waite. Mathur marks his first career undefeated season.
“It’s always great to win, but to finish an undefeated season with Manek was really special,” Mudge said. “These things don’t happen that often in ones career, so to have the opportunity to do it was amazing! It is a pure pleasure playing with Manek. He is such a strong player and such a good person. I feel privileged to be with him for the last two years.”
While the undefeated season is his first, Mathur has now won three consecutive titles at the Tavern Club, the first of which came with Gould in 2016.
“This is my first undefeated season and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about it headed into Cleveland,” Mathur said. “Cleveland is a special place for me. I have always enjoyed going out there to see family and in turn, made a lot of great relationships with the members at the Tavern Club. Quick shout out to my pro/am partner, Matt Brinn, who has played with me for the last four years. We finally clinched the coveted title! I am lucky to have Damien on my side and he’s a great mentor and friend through the process. We faced a lot of adversity this season and to manage staying undefeated means a lot to the two of us.”
The Tavern Club Invitational has been held annually since 2006. Mudge has now won all but four of the events with a total of nine titles.
“Big thank you to Ian Sly,” Mudge said. “He does an amazing job at the tavern club and really takes care of the pros.”
“Ian Sly and his team deserves a massive kudos,” Mathur said. “They run such a special tournament, members are very enthusiastic and the club on the whole is very welcoming and respectful to the pros. I speak on behalf of all my fellow pros that we can’t wait to be back out in Cleveland. Rumor has it that soon there will be a Mudgie poster on the building to replace Lebron!”
The 2017-2018 SDA season comes to a close with the SDA Gold Buffalo Pro Doubles, May 10-13.