Scott Arnold & James Stout captured their first CitySquash Briggs Cup title at the Apawamis Club, December 9-12, in Rye, New York, while hometown favorite Kayley Leonard returned for her second title with first-time champion Maria Elena Ubina. This year marked the 10th anniversary of the prestigious event, which takes place every two years and benefits the Bronx-based urban squash program, CitySquash.
The women’s 12-team draw kicked off with a number of upsets, with only one of the four 5/8-seeds moving forward to the quarterfinals. Qualifiers Tina Rix & Fernanda Rocha Maturi showed the strength of experience in a 3-0 win against Nessrine Ariffin & Reyna Pacheco, but fell short against No.1 seeds Kayley Leonard & Maria Elena Ubina, who proceeded with a 3-1 win. A close first-round battle saw Trinity alumni Julia Le Coq & Ashley Tidman Noriega emerge on top against Charlotte Knaggs & Narelle Krizek, before suffering a 3-0 defeat courtesy of four-seeds Celia Pashley & Lauren West.
In the bottom half of the women’s draw, the second qualifying team, Annie Ballaine & Emily Sherwood, made a strong entry with a 3-2 win over Penn alumni Jess Davis & Lindsey Stanley, but were outmatched by two-seeds Lume & Elani Landman, who defeated them 3-0. Georgina Stoker & Line Hansen secured their spot as the fourth semifinalist without dropping a game, defeating Dana Betts & Meredeth Quick 3-0 before staging an upset against three-seeds Victoria Simmonds & Julie Cerullo.
The women’s semifinals saw Leonard & Ubina assert their seeding with a 15-8, 15-10, 15-11 win over Pashley & West, while Stoker & Hansen continued their surprise run to the final, upsetting Landman & Landman 15-10, 15-13, 15-10.
The first round of the men’s 16-team draw went as seeded, with the top 8 teams proceeding to the quarterfinals, which saw a string of surprising results. The men’s quarterfinals began with a close battle between three-seeds Zac Alexander & James Bamber and Australians Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley. With both teams winning alternating games to reach a 2-2 standoff, it was Cuskelly and Apawamis head pro, Pilley, who clinched the final game to take the match 3-2. In their first SDA event of the season, No.1 seeds Arnold & Stout then entered the tournament with a 3-1 win over Michael Ferreira & Will Hartigan.
The bottom half of the men’s draw saw another five-game upset, with Clinton Leeuw & Jaymie Haycocks defeating four-seeds Kyle Martino & Sam Khalifa. Later that evening, Adam Bews & Colin West upset two-seeds Manek Mathur & Randy Lim 3-1, securing their spot as the fourth team in an unexpected semifinal lineup.
In the men’s semifinals, Arnold & Stout had a slow start, dropping the first game 10-15 against Cuskelly & Pilley. However, they soon regained their footing to win the next three 15-6, 15-11, 15-8. Bews & West then secured their spot in the final with a victory over Leuuw & Haycocks, 15-6, 15-13, 15-9.
The Monday night finals saw excellent shot-making and court coverage from all four teams, but it was the top seed teams in both draws that came out on top. Leonard & Ubina edged a close three games to take the title 15-14, 15-14, 15-13, while Stout & Arnold performed in absolute top form to dispatch Bews & West 15-6, 15-6, 15-10.
“We came into the Brigg’s Cup feeling optimistic about the tournament as well as the season,” Stout said. “Scott and I had played well together in the Calgary Invitational, and were keen to see if that would carry over to the SDA season. Not only is the Brigg’s Cup the largest prize money event on the calendar, but it is also one of the most prestigious. Having played in this tournament numerous times, it means everything to add my name and Scott’s to the list of winners. On a personal note, I met my wife and fellow SDA player, Tina Rix, during the 2015 Brigg’s Cup so will always consider this my favorite tournament. I would like to thank Peter Briggs, Cameron Pilley and everyone at the Apawamis Club for hosting and running such a fantastic event. Lastly, a big thank you to my squad for getting me prepared to play my best!”
“The Briggs Cup has long been the marquee event on our tour, and the one which I feel confident in saying every player most wants to win,” Arnold added. “Apawamis was also the club, through the good graces of Peter Briggs, I spent some time training at when I was on the singles tour around 12-13 years ago, so both the club and the people there have always been so welcoming and treated me so well over the years that I love every chance I get to head back down. More broadly speaking, especially after the past few years we’ve had, it’s so important for the tour that our biggest event has come back, and in such a successful fashion. Long may it continue! It’s always a fun weekend when you have both draws going alongside each other. And James, as always, makes it so easy out there as my partner, filling in all the gaps I leave open while also slotting away anything given to him… he makes it so easy for me to be able to do what I want to do on the right wall.”