The 2018-2019 SDA Pro Tour season came to a fitting conclusion with four of the season’s most in-form players–John Russell & Scott Arnold and Greg McArthur & James Stout–contesting a repeat Buffalo Club Pro Doubles final Sunday, May 12, in upstate New York.
Both sides were tested on their way to the final. Russell & Arnold entered the draw as the three seeds, and needed four close games to win their opener against Canadians Joshua Hollings & Chris Sachvie, 15-13, 11-15, 15-12, 15-11. Russell & Arnold then managed to dispatch two seeds Will Mariani & James Bamber in three games to reach the final.
Stout & McArthur, the top seeds, were on the brink of elimination in the semifinals, where they found themselves two games down against Omar El Kashef & Imran Khan. In the quarterfinals, Kashef & Khan had come out on top of a five game upet over four seeds Hameed Ahmed and Adam Perkiomaki, but this time couldn’t hold onto the lead as Stout & McArthur turned the match on its head to win 12-15, 14-15, 15-6, 15-6, 15-3.
Stout & McArthur carried their momentum into Sunday morning’s final and were on the brink of their second straight Buffalo final victory against Russell & Arnold, taking the first two games 15-9, 15-13 and holding a championship ball at 14-all in the third. Russell & Arnold fought off the championship ball to take the third, and mounted a comeback to clinch the title in five 15-10, 15-11.
“We lost against the same team in last year’s final so it feels great to get them back this year,” Russell said. “After winning the third the momentum seriously swung in our favor. Scott started the fifth game with five straight winners which was the lead we carried all the way home.”
Russell & Arnold celebrate their second title in Buffalo having won the inaugural event in 2017.
The result holds even more significance for Russell, who wraps up the most successful spell of his career by garnering the world No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career come June 1. The Englishman had already earned a career high ranking of world No. 2 in May on the heels of three straight titles at the Graham Company Cup and career-first title runs at the Tavern Club Open and Kellner Cup. The season-ending title marks Russell’s fifth of the season and twelfth overall.
“This season I’ve played with seven different partners, I’d like to thank all of them for helping me to achieve my first ever #1 ranking,” Russell said. “Tom Hayes runs a fantastic event! Buffalo is a great town with a great squash following.”
Over the course of the 2018-2019 season, Russell won two titles with Arnold, one with James Bamber, Greg Park and Chris Callis–who Russell displaces at world No. 1–reached the PDC Cup final with Hameed Ahmed, and made appearances with Dane Sharp and Yvain Badan early in the season.