Two-seeds James Bamber & James Stout pulled off an almost perfect run at the David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial, February 22-26, dropping only one game on their path to the title in Brooklyn, NY. This win marks Stout’s third consecutive Johnson title, and Bamber’s first.
First-time partners Bamber & Stout made a strong start to the event, defeating qualifiers Sam Fenwick & Chris Longman, 3-0. A close first game in the quarterfinals against Mike Ferreira & Will Hartigan saw Bamber & Stout clinch the first-game lead 15-14, before taking the next two games 15-9, 15-8 to secure their spot in the semifinals. There Bamber & Stout met Clinton Leeuw & Jaymie Haycocks, following their five-game upset over 4-seeds Adam Bews & Colin West. Bamber & Stout once again demonstrated their strength, defeating Leeuw & Haycocks 15-10, 15-6, 15-5.
In the top half of the draw, top seeds Chris Callis & Manek Mathur also proceeded to the semifinals without dropping a game—overpowering qualifiers Nathan Snyder & Joseph Hughes in the Round of 16 and Ricardo Lopez & Lockie Munro in the quarterfinals, both in straight sets. A tough semifinal was in store for Callis & Mathur, however, as they faced off against three-seeds Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley. The back-and-forth battle found the teams tied at 2-2 after an hour of play, and culminated with Callis & Mathur pushing through to take the fifth game 15-10.
The finals kicked off with Bamber & Stout taking a two-game lead, 15-13, 15-10. World No.1’s Callis & Mathur fought back to take the third game 15-10, forcing the match into a fourth. Bamber & Stout entered the fourth in top form, taking an early lead that they carried through the remainder of the game, ultimately clinching the title with a 15-7 win.
“The crowd, the atmosphere here—there’s nothing like it in squash doubles, it’s electrifying,” Stout said. “It’s a fantastic court, you know personally I love the beam. It means you have to hit the ball hard and that helps my game a little bit. I love this place, it’s incredible, and just a huge thank you to everyone here. To Jim—not only is he putting on this incredible tournament, which takes a lot of time, a lot of focus away from actually playing, but as a partner he is incredible. He’s everywhere on the court, he’s getting every single ball back, he’s super positive throughout. It’s just been a pleasure, Jim, so thank you so much.”
“This is my first tournament with James, so this entire tournament we’ve just been trying to figure out what we’re going to do together, and we were really excited to see how we were going to go against the top team and how we were going to handle the pressure.” Bamber added. “It was just so fun playing in front of everyone here. This energy—there is no other tournament that even comes close to what you guys bring for us. I think everyone was also so excited to see Manek’s match here. He has such a presence when you play against him—the amount of times he’s killed me 3-0 over the years, and the lessons I’ve learned playing against him—it’s always an absolute war out there. It’s a real honor playing [him] and to have experienced this. And to my partner Stout—towards the end I was getting a bit shaky and he was just helping me stay calm, I was shaking like a leaf out there. I just felt comfortable and calm the whole time, and we just stuck to our game plan. To be playing with someone who moves so well just gives me confidence and I could just stick to my game plan. It was a real treat playing with you, thank you.”