The Diamond State Open doubles returned to the higher echelon of the SDA Pro Tour this weekend with its $40,000 event and a packed draw that was only missing the team of Cameron Pilley and Ryan Cuskelly.
Going into the weekend, top seeds James Stout and Scott Arnold looked like the favorites for the event following their win at The Big Apple Open and the late withdrawal of Zac Alexander. Alexander was forced to withdraw from the event due to a knee injury sustained in the Sleepy Hollow Open final, leaving an opening for Sam Khalifa to pair with Jim Bamber for first time.
The top seeds got off to a strong start, dispatching new pairing, Mike Ferreira and Colin West in 3 games in the quarter finals before quickly rolling past Adam Bews and Matt Henderson in the semi finals.The bottom half of the draw saw second seed Khalifa/Bamber go match ball down in the 4th game to John Russell and Chris Callis before turning what could have been a 3-0 loss into a 3-2 win to advance to the final.
The anticipated final was a hard fought back and forth between two well matched teams. The passionate Wilmington crowd showed their very vocal support for the players and their skill, clearly enjoying every rally the long and entertaining match provided. Khalifa/Bamber took an early lead in winning the first game, forcing Stout/Arnold to play catch up for the rest of the match, a gap they never managed to close.The win in Delaware was the 3rd prominent win in a 12 month cycle for Jim Bamber, earning him his first World #1 ranking.
‘Incredible weekend in Wilmington! Very happy with how Jim and I were able to dig deep in crucial moments throughout the tournament. It was a treat for me to partner with Bamber, and huge thanks to him for carrying us all weekend.
On a personal note, I am elated to win my biggest title in Wilmington, and hoping that I can keep on learning and improving from these experiences. Thank you to Ed Chilton, the sponsors and the membership for hosting us and for the incredible hospitality that they’ve showed us. I look forward to defending our title in two years!’ – Sam Khalifa
‘I am thrilled and deeply impressed by Sam’s performance this weekend. Playing with a new partner always brings a level of uncertainty, but Sam has unbelievable skills so I was excited to find a way to give him the opportunity to use his strengths. And he did! We managed to pull off two upsets against the best players on tour so I am delighted! I think it’s great for the professional tour for two of the younger players to get a significant tournament title. It was also my first time at Wilmington, Delaware, and the members really took care of us. It’s a fantastic community and Ed Chilton showed that with his well run event. ‘ – Jim Bamber
Full report to follow….