Kyle Martino & John Russell enjoyed immediate success in their first event together, pulling off an almost perfect run to win the Pittsburgh Challenger, January 27-29, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Martino & Russell hit the ground running in the first match of the event, progressing to the semifinal with a 3-0 win over Imran Khan & Kumar Dasani. They faced off against four-seeds Sergio Martin & Karim Ibrahim, who overcame Santiago Orozco & Mohsin Khan in three games to secure their spot in the semis.
The semifinal match kicked off to an exciting start, with underdogs Martin & Ibrahim fighting back from 14-7 down to reach consecutive game ball in the first, only to have Martino & Russell sneak the final point to claim the early advantage. The top seeds carried the momentum through the second, taking the game 15-8, but were forced into a fourth by a determined Martin & Ibrahim, who took the third 15-13. A neck-and-neck battle through the fourth game saw both teams even at 12-12, but ultimately it was Martino & Russell who were able to push through and finish the game 15-12 to progress to the final.
In the bottom half of the draw, two seeds Lucas Rousselet & Josh Hughes fought off local team Peter Nero & Lafe Metz in three games, while an unfortunate double injury forced Canadians Cole Osborne & Will Mariani to withdraw, allowing three-seeds Rafik Bhaloo & Michael Woods to progress straight to the semifinals.
Drexel graduates Rousselet & Hughes entered the match with a strong start, taking the first two games 15-9, 15-9 to earn an early lead. Woods & Bhaloo fought back in the third, but Rousselet & Hughes were able to maintain their control of the match, taking the third 15-12 to secure the pair’s first final appearance.
The Sunday final saw a dominant performance from Martino & Russell, who showed the strength of experience with a decisive 15-7, 15-6, 15-11 win over Rousselet & Hughes to claim their first title as a pair.