James Bamber & Zac Alexander joined the prestigious ranks of North American Open men’s champions, while Kayley Leonard & Maria Elena Ubina made their mark as the first winners of the Saratoga Investment Corps Women’s North American Open in Greenwich, CT, January 19-23.

An annual SDA fixture that dates back to 1931, the NAO is held across three venues in Greenwich–the Round Hill Club, the Field Club of Greenwich, and Greenwich Country Club. This year’s event included a full eight-team women’s draw for the first time, with two qualifying draws, while the men’s event fielded a full draw of sixteen teams and four qualifying draws.

The men’s draw progressed as seeded through the early rounds, with the top eight teams making it through the round of 16 with only three games being dropped between them. A close five-game quarterfinal between Sam Khalifa & Matt Henderson and four-seeds Adam Bews & Kyle Martino had the crowd on alert for an upset, but ultimately Bews & Martino pulled through to take the match 15-12, 15-12, 8-15, 8-15, 15-9. Top seeds Manek Mathur & Chris Callis faced early resistance from Australian duo Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley, dropping the first game 13-15 before rebounding 15-5, 15-12, 15-11. The semifinal saw Mathur & Callis defeat Bews & Martino 15-12, 15-7, 15-5 to secure their place in the final.

In the bottom half of the draw, three-seeds Bamber & Alexander stormed through the quarterfinals, defeating Clinton Leeuw & Jaymie Haycocks 15-9, 15-12, 15-9, while two-seeds James Stout & Scott Arnold completed the semifinal lineup with a 15-1, 15-11, 11-15, 15-9 win over Will Hartigan & Mike Ferreira. Both teams were in top form for the event’s second semifinal, ensuring an exciting match for the packed crowds. Bamber & Alexander took an early lead, taking the first game 15-12, but were unable to maintain it as Stout & Arnold fought back to take the next two 15-14, 15-13. Not to be denied, Bamber & Alexander returned rejuvenated in the fourth and fifth games, finishing the match 15-6, 15-9.

The Monday night final saw defending champions Mathur & Callis out for revenge against Bamber & Alexander, in a rematch of the 2022 Sleepy Hollow Open. An hour of play found the match tied 1-1, with both teams displaying exceptional skill and tactics. Bamber & Alexander saved four crucial game balls to take the third game and establish their lead. The duo carried the momentum into the fourth to cinch the win 15-9, 13-15, 15-14, 15-10, securing their first NAO title as a pair, and their second SDA title this season.

“Winning this event was very special for Zac and I,” Bamber said. “We had to overcome playing James Stout and Scott Arnold in the semifinals, which was a very tough match. I had never beaten James Stout before, so for me it was a big victory. It was also on the court where I learned to play doubles and in front of the Round Hill membership. It was a fast-paced match and one of the more entertaining matches I’ve played in. The final against Manek and Callis was a real chess match. Zac and I had to play very patiently for a long time to be able to find an opening. At 14-11 down in the third game I felt like we had Callis tired and realized we had an opportunity to sneak the third game. Winning the third was crucial and we ran away with it in the fourth. The North American Open was the first tournament I played in 2016 with Travis Judson and it’s nice to be able to finally win this event, and with one of my very good friends, Zac Alexander.”

In the women’s draw, the quarterfinals saw early success for qualifiers Dana Betts & Line Hansen, saving match ball at 2-0 down in the third to upset four-seeds Victoria Simmonds & Julie Cerullo, 8-15, 13-15, 15-14, 15-12, 15-4. Two-seeds Lume & Elani Landman faced a five-game battle against Katie Tutrone & Nikole Todd, coming out on top 10-15, 15-8, 9-15, 15-7, 15-4. In the semifinal, Landman & Landman found their footing and charged through to defeat Betts & Hansen 15-5, 15-5, 15-8.

In the top half of the draw, three-seeds Lauren West & Georgina Stoker found themselves tied at 1-1 with qualifiers Tina Rix Stout & Fernanda Rocha Maturi, but were able to find renewed energy in the third game to secure the win 15-8, 10-15, 15-4, 15-7. Meanwhile, Leonard & Ubina asserted their dominance with a 15-10, 15-11, 15-7 win over Alicia Rodriguez & Rachel Mashek. The semifinal kicked off to an exciting start, with West & Stoker taking a 2-0 lead over the top seeds. However, the tide turned in the third game, and Leonard & Ubina staged a comeback, earning their spot in the final 10-15, 13-15, 15-11, 15-10, 15-8.

The final marked the fourth face-off this season between the World No. 1’s Leonard & Ubina and World No. 3’s Landman & Landman. Leonard & Ubina took the first game to earn an early advantage, but Landman & Landman bounced back to even out the score 1-1. The third and fourth games saw excellent shot-making from both teams, with Leonard & Ubina ultimately edging out the win to claim the first ever Women’s NAO title 15-8, 6-15, 15-12, 15-11.

“Maria Elena are very excited and proud to have won the 2023 North American Open,” Leonard said. “This obviously has a lot more significance, being the first inaugural North American Open for the women’s tour. I think both of us have been watching this tournament on the men’s side for the past ten years or so, and I think it was very special to have both been playing in our hometown at Maria Elena’s home club, and also just to be on the other side of the glass this year. Super appreciative and grateful for the sponsors that helped make this happen and all the pros at the three clubs that put in lots of time and effort to make this a successful weekend.”

“We’re very fortunate to have made it through both the semifinals and the finals, having battles in both of those matches,” she added. “It’s always great playing the Landman twins, having played them several times this season and in past seasons, and we’re very fortunate that we were able to stick to our game plan and pull out the win this tournament. Looking forward to more North American Opens, as well as a few other remaining tournaments this season.”

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