The inaugural Sleepy Hollow Country Club Open presented by Sherry-Lehmann SDA Bronze draw saw home hero Greg McArthur & James Stout battle through a competitive draw to win their first title of the season together and third of 2018.
The first round saw two major five-gamers right off the bat. In the top half of the draw, Mike Ferreira & Whitten Morris squandered a 2-0 lead when four seeds Clive Leach & James Bamber forced a fifth game, but Ferreira & Morris got the best of Leach & Bamber in the fifth to advance 15-12, 15-13, 13-15, 7-15, 15-12.
Stout & McArthur, the two seeds, opened up their tournament with a difficult draw against world No. 18 Robin Clarke & world No. 14 Zac Alexander. The champions were on the brink of a first-round exit as Clarke & Alexander took the first two games 15-5, 15-14. Stout & McArthur regrouped, however, decisively winning the remaining three games 15-4, 15-7, 15-4.
The top two seeds reasserted their superior rankings in the semifinals as Yvain Badan & Bernardo Samper dispatched Ferreira & Morris in four games, and Stout & McArthur held off three seeds Raj Nanda & Greg Park–also in four games–to reach their second final of the season.
The Sleepy Hollow fans got their money’s worth in the club’s first ever SDA final, as Stout, world No. 6, & McArthur, world No. 10, upset the Badan, world No. 3, & Samper, world No. 8, 9-15, 15-6, 15-14, 14-15, 15-7.
“Of the four tournament victories James and I have together this one was the toughest to achieve,” McArthur said. “Any of our three matches en route to the title could have been finals in most SDA events. Robin and Zac definitely gave us a scare in the first round and we were very relieved to turn things around and win in five games. This was the second match against Swiss and Bernie this season. I’m really enjoying the friendly rivalry against those guys. They are such great players and every time we play them we have to step up our game.”
Stout & McArthur’s final victory against Samper & Badan avenged their five-game loss at the Big Apple Open where they fell 15-13 in the fifth.
“This was such a strong draw with five or six teams that could have won the event,” Stout said. “We knew we had to play well from the first match, having drawn Robin and Zac, and were really pleased to comeback in five games for the win. Swiss and Bernie are such a strong and steady team, we knew we would have to play really well to have a chance in the final. Having lost to them in a close match at the end of last month, we were excited to try to turn the result around. It was a really exciting match and great to be a part of the Inaugural Sleepy Hollow event.”
The Sleepy Hollow Open marked Stout & McArthur’s third tournament of the season, with the pairing reaching the Maryland Club Open final in addition to the Big Apple quarters.
“James and I have always had good chemistry on court,” McArthur said. “Our results really speak for themselves, but I think the biggest factor right now is increased confidence and belief. When you have someone of James’ quality on the left wall it is easy to believe you can win.”
After winning their first SDA event together at the 2013 Graham Company Cup, the duo had a strong end to the 2017-2018 season by winning the R&TC Challenger and Buffalo Pro Doubles. The title marks Stout’s second of the season following his Westchester Country Club triumph with Badan.
“It is always a pleasure being on court with Greg, not only because we are close friends but also because we respect each others game–there aren’t many guys that can run around for 90 minutes and still hit ridiculous winners at the end of it,” Stout said. “We have been playing a few more tournaments recently, which definitely helps with our confidence. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Sleepy Hollow for running an incredible tournament, and especially to Greg.”
For McArthur, the Sleepy Hollow head pro, the occasion of winning in front of his membership was a special one.
“It was such a privilege to be able to compete and win in front of my members,” McArthur said. “I love working with these people day in day out and to have them there sharing my success is a memory I’ll cherish for quite some time. Before stepping on court for the final I was already delighted with how the tournament had went. This is our first time hosting a professional tournament and I hope it’s the first of many. I’d like to thank the squash committee, all the members, patrons and staff at Sleepy Hollow Country Club and especially our title sponsor Sherry-Lehmann. The event simply could not have happened without all their support.”
SDA Tour focus now shifts to Atlanta, Georgia, for the final event of the 2018 calendar year–the PDC Cup, December 5-8.
Will Mariani & Justin Todd became the first Canadian team to win the Jim Bentley Cup since 1996 Monday night, as both players celebrate their first career SDA titles at the Cambridge Club in Toronto, Canada.
Mariani & Todd’s campaign in the eight-team SDA Bronze draw opened with a three game win over the only all-American team in the draw, Imran Khan & Hamed Anvari, to set up a semifinal match up against fellow Canadians Amar Gupta & Ryan Herden. Mariani & Todd upset the seeding 15-8, 15-13, 15-7 to reach Mariani’s fifth career SDA final and Todd’s second.
The top half of the draw completed an all Canadian semifinal lineup. Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro upset top seeds Graham Bassett & Freddie Reid in the first round, while four seeds Robin Clarke & Thomas Brinkman held off a close three game challenge from Joshua Hollings and Cole Osborne. The tournament’s only five-gamer ensued with Clarke & Brinkman just edging Hamilton & Nigro 12-15, 15-12, 9-15, 15-13, 15-5.
In the final, Mariani & Todd were aided by a physically struggling Clarke & Brinkman. Clarke had endured a groin injury picked up in the first round, while Brinkman sustained a rolled ankle in the third game of the final. Mariani & Todd pressed on through the final to clinch the title 15-10, 15-9, 15-10.
As is tradition for the champions, Mariani & Todd donned Cambridge Club robes, representing their new lifetime memberships to the club as they lifted the Jim Bentley Cup.
“It feels great to win the Jim Bentley Cup,” Mariani said. “I’m not sure the first time I met Jim, but as we both aged I continually saw and conversed with him, mostly at the Cricket Club bar. To know our names will be etched on the trophy and painted on the board of the Cambridge is one cool feeling. And to know we are the first Canadian team since Waite & Bentley in 1996 is special.”
Mariani, a Pickering, Ontario, native, praised the Toronto hardball doubles community that was reflected in the all Canadian semifinals.
“To have four Canadian teams in the semis of an SDA event is a great feat and hopefully it encourages more of us to play in SDA events,” Mariani said. “Currently six of the eight of us play out of clubs in Toronto and it is a special city to play hardball doubles in–it is the Mecca of the sport. Thanks must go out to the “old guard”, who whipped us countless times over the past twenty years, but have always been encouraging and supportive of our efforts.”
The Jim Bentley Cup is one of the longest-running events on the SDA tour, dating back to 1973. Jim Bentley, the tournament’s namesake, served as a long-time head professional at the Cambridge Club.
“The club puts on a great event, especially the Friday night black tie dinner which kick starts the weekend,” Mariani said. “I’m sure some members did not make it home til after the finals on Monday night. There is no better club on tour to be locked up in for four nights.”
The fourth annual SDA Awards honoring the 2017-2018 season were presented at the 2018-2019 season-opening Maryland Club Open on October 1 in Baltimore.
All of the awards were voted on by the tour professionals.
Since collecting Team of the Year honors in the 2016-2017 SDA Awards, Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge did not lose a match, earning them an second consecutive Team of the Year Award following an unparalleled undefeated season. The world No. 1’s 2017-2018 season ended with a fifty-four match unbeaten streak, six titles and retaining the world No. 1 ranking.
Their incredible undefeated season also saw Mathur, an Indian international and Trinity graduate, named Player of the Year for a third consecutive season.
Missouri Athletic Club professional Adam Bews was named Most Improved Player, marking his first SDA honor. The Scotsman began the season ranked world No. 26 and ended the season at world No. 14 in May, including a high of world No. 13 in April. Bews reached the semifinals at the Briggs Cup, Hashim Khan and Tavern Club Invitational, and collected his first career SDA title at the Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger.
Eric Bedell receives the Sportsmanship Award for his overall conduct. The twenty-seven-year-old is a Bates graduate and works as an assistant at the Racquet & Tennis Club. In March, Bedell won his first career SDA title with Bobby Burns at the Hashim Khan.
Twenty-four-year-old Kyle Martino earned Rookie of the Year honors following his debut season. Martino went on to appear in six tournaments over the course of his first proper season, recording wins at the R&TC Challenger, David C. Johnson Jr. Memorial and Delaware Pro Doubles.
The Tournament of the Year award will be revealed at that event over the course of the 2018-2019 season.