England’s John Russell & James Bamber join the prestigious Tavern Club Open winners list after a successful partnership debut in Cleveland, Ohio.
Both Russell & Bamber entered the tournament with positive momentum on the SDA Pro Tour. Russell, world No. 5, had won the previous tour event leading up to the Tavern Club–the Graham Company Cup with Greg Park. Meanwhile, Bamber entered the tournament with a career high ranking of world No. 11 on the heels of inaugural SDA title in February–the Tompkins Cup.
The Englishmen entered the Tavern Club draw as the two seeds, opposing top seeds Bernardo Samper, world No. 7, & Yvain Badan, world No. 4.
The draw largely played out according to seeding with the top four seeds progressing to the semifinals, although the three and four seeds had to earn it in five-game quarterfinals. John Roberts & Hameed Ahmed, the four seeds, came back from 2-1 down to defeat Matt Domenick & Travis Judson 15-13 in the fifth, while Robin Clarke & Scott Arnold, the three seeds, held off a five-game comeback against Adam Bews & Colin West.
Saturday, April 13, made for an intense slate of doubles squash with both the semifinals and finals scheduled for the early afternoon and evening. The top two seeds both advanced to the final in four games. First, Russell & Bamber escaped 15-14 in the fourth to beat Clarke & Arnold. Samper & Badan then followed on to take down Roberts & Ahmed 15-8, 14-15, 15-9, 15-8.
In the final Russell avenged his PDC Cup final loss against the top seeds with Bamber, clinching the title 15-13, 13-15, 15-13, 15-8.
Russell celebrates his third title of the season, and first Tavern Club title having lost in the past two finals against Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge.
“It feels great to finally win this event after losing in the two previous finals,” Russell said. “Playing with James was a pleasure, he brings a lot of energy on the court with him and has the potential to carry on improving and being one of the best around.”
Bamber, twenty-three years old, continues his improving form with his second and largest career SDA title. The result also marks the first year that neither Damien Mudge or Ben Gould won the tournament since 2007.
“JR is a legend of the game so I was just trying to let him take the lead this weekend and help out where I could,” Bamber said. “I feel I’ve learnt a lot from playing with JR in just one weekend. It feels great to have another title in the bag for this season. I was looking back on the previous winners of the event and it’s a honor to be on the same board as them.”
The Tavern Club Open was first held in 2006.
“Ian Sly doses a fantastic job running an extremely organized event,” Russell said. “The Tavern Club members are very knowledgeable about the game and the size of the crowd made for a great atmosphere.”