Manek Mathur & Chris Callis opened the 2018-2019 SDA season with a dominant display in Baltimore, clinching the SDA Diamond Maryland Club Open title Monday night.
Mathur, world No. 1, had been forced to shuffle partners this season due to an injury keeping Damien Mudge off court—his partner for the past two seasons. Mathur rekindled his 2015 Big Apple Open finalist partnership with Chris Callis, Princeton graduate and 2016 SDA rookie of the year. Callis stepped into Mudge’s role on the right wall as Mathur & Callis led the draw as top seeds.
Mathur & Callis blew past Peter Kelly & Joshua Schwartz 15-5, 15-8, 15-7 in the first round, and put in another strong performance in the quarterfinals against Mike Ferreira & Whitten Morris, 15-9, 15-3, 15-3.
Commonwealth Games doubles gold medalist Zac Alexander & Robin Clark upset the seedings in the quarterfinals, defeating England’s Clive Leach & James Bamber 15-14, 15-4, 15-5 to set up a semifinal against the top seeds. Mathur & Callis proved to be too much for Alexander & Clarke in the semis with the top seeds once again progressing to the final in three games.
2018 Buffalo Pro Doubles champions James Stout & Greg McArthur claimed the biggest upset in the bottom half of the draw. Two seeds John Russell & Yvain Badan had come back from 2-0 down to win their quarterfinal match up in five games against Raj Nanda & Greg Park. The two seeds found themselves 2-0 down once again in the semis against Stout & McArthur and appeared to be on the brink of another come back by winning the third and holding a simultaneous game/match ball at 14-all in the fourth. Stout & McArthur claimed the pivotal point to take the match 15-14 in the fourth.
Mathur & Callis continued their strong form into the final against Stout & McArthur, dropping just five points in the first and third games to claim the title in three. The title marks the largest of Callis’ SDA career and Mathur’s first at the Maryland Club.
“It was a treat to be out there with Chris,” Mathur said. “We go so far back that our friendship and understanding showed through with our on court communication, which was a massive plus. When you have someone new to play doubles with, no matter who they are or how good, the meshing aspect can be tricky. I think we understood each other’s strengths and weaknesses to a T.”
The Maryland Club Open event returns to the SDA Tour with its highest prize money to date following a brief hiatus last season. The club underwent renovations that added a third hardball doubles court—the only club in the United States with three courts.
“The Maryland Club is a special place,” Mathur said. “They’ve got some of the best members and now the best squash doubles facility in the world. It was a treat to be a part of their event and history and I am already counting down the days to their next event. Andrew Cordova is a class act. What he does for the game and the sport is unparalleled and consistently pushes us pros to raise the bar at our home clubs. Can’t thank the club, membership and the staff enough for treating us like family all through the weekend.”