Two weeks after claiming the Boston Pro Am title, Chris Callis & Manek Mathur continued their winning streak at the Tavern Club Invitational, April 23-24, in Cleveland.
The SDA Tour welcomed the return of the Tavern Club Invitational for the first time since 2019 as the event celebrated its fifteenth edition.
Callis & Mathur led the eight-team draw as the top seeds and made a slow start to the tournament, dropping their first game against Elroy Leong & Tor Christofferson before advancing 14-15, 15-7, 15-8, 15-6. The top seeds refined their form in the semifinals, dispatching four seeds Travis Judson & Alex Domenick 15-11, 15-5, 15-11.
The bottom half of the draw fielded a competitive slate of matches including a surprise final run by the unseeded Osama Khalifa & Kyle Martino. Two of the tour’s up and coming players, Khalifa & Martino upset three seeds Adam Bews & Jacques Swanepoel 13-15, 15-4, 15-9, 15-11. Khalifa & Martino then prevailed in the match of the tournament against two seeds Hameed Ahmed & Clinton Leeuw to reach their first career final 13-15, 15-10, 15-6, 12-15, 15-3 in eighty-minutes.
Both finalists had the afternoon to recover before jumping back on court for the final Sunday night. The experienced Callis & Mathur made no mistake on their way to the title 15-3, 15-4, 15-8 in forty minutes.
“It was a tough tournament all the way from the word go,” Callis said. “We lost our first game in the first round and we were a bit on our heels playing against some really good teams. After such a long time away from the game over the last couple of years, it’s amazing to see how strong the events remain from the quarters on. We knew from that wake up call in the first match that we were going to have to sharpen up and play our best game every match from thereon in. The last day of this tournament is always a tough one with the semis and finals on the same day. You have pro am matches and your body needs to be ready for all of it. I was really proud and how sharp we were right from the first rally of the finals.”
Callis celebrates his first title in Cleveland, while Mathur marks his fourth, adding to his 2016 title with Ben Gould and 2017 and 2018 titles with Damien Mudge. Both Callis & Mudge praised Khalifa & Martino’s first final appearance and the return of the event.
“It’s always great coming back to the Tavern Club and this time after two and a half years,” Mathur said. “A big shout out to Ian Sly for doing a super job organizing the tournament. ]We have to give Hameed Ahmed a big shout out as the point person for the event, it’s always important to make sure that we give the refs and organizers get their due. We worked our way into the tournament and credit to Chris for making us stay focused and engaged and we were able to find form through to the end because of it. Kudos to Kyle and Osama who have been working their tails off to get better at this game, which we’ve seen in New York. It’s great to see these young guys take it so seriously and it’s a testament to the depth of the tour.”
“Osama and Kyle have improved a ton this season and have gone from the new faces on tour to the guys who are consistently pushing the top teams and making a dent on the SDA,” Callis added. “I’m excited to see what they do moving forward, but also proud of us building some momentum going into two of the biggest events of the year, the Kellner and NAO. Big shout out to the Tavern Club and Ian Sly putting together his fifteenth tournament. It’s one that everyone gets excited for, the staff and members are incredible. Shout out to Manek for playing some amazing squash and really bringing it today.”