Clarke & Alexander Battle Through NAO Draw to Win Partnership’s First Title

(l-r): Zac Alexander, Robin Clarke, Greg McArthur, James Stout

In their fourth appearance of the season together, Robin Clarke & Zac Alexander went the distance to their first title, battling through two, 2-hour matches in the semifinals and final of the SDA Diamond North American Open at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club in Connecticut.

Clarke & Alexander’s first major hurdle came in the quarterfinals against three seeds Chris Callis & long-time SDA veteran Matt Jenson, who made a return in Greenwich. Clarke & Alexander squeezed through in three games, winning on simultaneous game balls at 14-all in the first and third games.

Clarke & Alexander had come through at 14-all once again in the semifinals, this time in the fifth game against two seeds Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan, completing a five-game comeback from 2-1 down.

The top half of the draw saw in-form James Stout & Greg McArthur overcome a four-game first-round test, to reach the final courtesy of three game wins over Clive Leach & Kyle Martino in the quarters, and Will Mariani & James Bamber in the semis.

The final staged a rematch of the Sleepy Hollow quarterfinals, where Stout & McArthur came back from 2-0 down to defeat Clarke & Alexander in five. Clarke & Alexander were up 2-1 with match balls in hand, when Stout & McArthur staged a comeback to force a fifth game on simultaneous game ball. This time in the fifth, Clarke & Alexander came through to clinch their first career title together 15-9, 6-15, 15-4, 14-15, 15-10.

“It could’ve been a very different story if we had have lost that 14-14 in the 5th point against such a tough team in Bernie and Swiss,” Alexander said. “But to back up a 2+ hour match with another 2 hour battle in the final and having match points to close it out in the 4th, it shows our physical and mental strength is there to compete and beat any team and sustain quality throughout a whole event. Even our quarter against Callis and Jenson was tough with 2 games being 15-14 in our favor.”

Both players mark their first time winning the historic North American Open, which dates back to 1931. Alexander celebrates his second title of the season, adding to his Denver Club Open win in the fall, and Clarke collects his first of the season.

“It was a great weekend for Robin and I,” Alexander said. “Our fourth time pairing up and everything clicked. Amazing to capture such a prestigious title like the NAO, especially for me being based in Greenwich over the last several years and even working at Round Hill as an assistant for two of them.”

The tour heads south to Maryland next week for the SDA Gold Baltimore Cup, February 6-10.