All posts by Chris McClintick

Callis & Mathur End Season With Fourth Straight Title Flourish at NAO

Chris Callis & Manek Mathur bolstered their end of season rankings with their fourth title in as many tournaments over the last two months, defeating top seeds James Stout & Scott Arnold in the North American Open final Monday, May 16, at the Field Club of Greenwich.

An SDA fixture perennially held across three venues in Greenwich, Connecticut–the Round Hill Club, Field Club of Greenwich and Greenwich Country Club–the North American Open fielded a full draw of sixteen teams and four qualifying draws over the five-day event.

Two qualifiers enjoyed first-round success as Osama Khalifa & Jamie Haycocks took out Khalifa’s Tavern Club-finalist partner Kyle Martino & Bernardo Samper in three games, and Trinity grads Elroy Leong & Tor Christofferson upset Travis Judson & David Letourneau in four.

Leong & Christofferson nearly knocked out four seeds Mike Ferreira & James Bamber in the quarterfinals, but the Englishmen escaped in five games 14-15, 15-13, 15-11, 11-15, 15-13.

Top seeds Stout & Arnold also cleared a major hurdle in the quarterfinals against Aussies Cameron Pilley & Ryan Cuskelly, fighting off a 2-1 deficit 15-9, 10-15, 7-15, 15-8, 15-8. Stout & Arnold had to dig deep and come back from 2-1 down again in the semis, defeating Ferreira & Bamber 13-15, 15-9, 9-15, 15-8, 15-10.

In contrast to Stout & Arnold’s thirteen games on court leading into the final, Callis & Mathur only needed six, although in two cases in unfortunate circumstances as Clinton Leeuw & William Hartigan were forced to concede in the second game due to injury, and three seed Zac Alexander & Greg McArthur were forced to default their semifinal after Alexander sustained an off-court injury.

Despite the disparity in court time, Stout & Arnold pushed Callis & Mathur in the final, taking the first game 15-13, and narrowly dropping the next two 15-12, 15-14, before the two seeds ran away with the title 15-8 in the fourth.

Mathur Celebrates his third career NAO title, while Callis celebrates his first. Mathur & Callis end their season with five titles to their name, including October’s Big Apple Open, April’s Boston Pro-Am and Tavern Club Invitational, and May’s Kellner Cup and NAO.

“Thanks to the pros, sponsors everyone at the three clubs,” Callis said after the final. “These are Three of the most active squash clubs in the U.S. if not north America. You bring so much energy to the sport we love both on the doubles and singles sides, thanks for everything that you do. James and Scott, you guys push us, and myself more than I would like, but it’s so much fun and you’re such good players and sportsman above all. Looking forward to a nice off season where we don’t have to deal with you for a while. Manek, it’s been an unbelievable season. There have been times where my body has been so close to breaking down and you show up just at the right time. It’s been an amazing a year.”

Arnold Claims Third Buffalo Club Pro Doubles Title With Bews

The 2022 Buffalo Club Pro Doubles yielded a familiar champion in Scott Arnold, who has now won three out of four iterations since the tournament’s inception in 2017, with first-time partner Adam Bews Sunday, May 8, in upstate New York.

The penultimate tournament of the season offered a $35,000 draw, which attracted a dozen teams to the Buffalo Club.

The top four seeds safely progressed to the final, however Canadian three seeds Matthew & Drew Henderson needed a five-game comeback to get past Sergio Martin & Imran Khan 15-10, 13-15, 13-15, 15-12, 15-9.

In the bottom half of the draw, first-time partners Hameed Ahmed & Chris Sachvie made a strong debut together, progressing to the final without dropping a game and winning their semifinal over the Hendersons at 14-all in the third.

Top-seeded Bews & Arnold improved together as they made it through the event, overcoming first-game losses in both of their first two matches before righting the ship and progressing in four.

Bews & Arnold produced their best squash in the final, defeating Ahmed & Sachvie 15-10, 11-15, 15-8, 15-14 in sixty-eight minutes.

“Playing with scott was a great experience,” Bews said.  “It was nice of him to agree to play with me and we played well, and got better throughout the event. It was the first time we played together so there was a lot of ironing out communication and who was covering what, but we got better and it was a really fun final. Big shout out to Hameed and Sachvie who played a great tournament and put up a really good show in the final.”

Bews has been one of the most active players on the doubles scene in recent months, winning the inaugural LA Mixed Doubles and National Doubles. The Buffalo Club marks his first on the men’s tour since 2018.

“This is one of if not my favorite tournaments on tour,” Arnold said. “Tom does an awesome job of gathering sponsors, support and interest in the event and keeping it going from when he started from scratch four years ago. It’s now an event where every match has a full gallery which doesn’t happen often at a lot of events. I guess i need to thank Bewsie as well for putting up with me for a week. Once we got past our communication issues about who is covering what, Bewsie realized that he’ll cover everything and we’re good.”

Arnold adds the 2022 Buffalo title to his 2017 and 2019 titles with John Russell.

“Huge thank you the buffalo club for hosting us this week it’s been a really fun event,” Bews added. “There’s always a big and knowledgeable crowd here and they come and watch every single match. The pro am is packed and a really big draw so it’s really fun the whole week we’re here. Huge thank you to Tom Hayes for all of the hard work he does here setting up this event and getting it back on the calendar.”

Callis & Mathur Edge Stout & Arnold in Marathon Kellner Cup Final

Chris Callis & Manek Mathur continued their strong form over recent weeks with a third-straight title at the biennial Kellner Cup–narrowly won in a two-hour final marathon final against James Stout & Scott Arnold Monday, May 2, in New York City.

One of the most prestigious events on the SDA calendar, the $50,000 Kellner Cup draw attracted a full draw of sixteen teams, including four qualifying draws–and was hosted across three clubs, the Racquet & Tennis Club, University Club and Union Club.

Qualifiers John Hughes & Eric Bedell nearly pulled off a first-round upset earning a 2-1 lead over Adam Bews & Colin West, eventually falling 15-8 in the fifth. Canadian qualifiers Matthew Henderson & Cole Osborne were able to pull off a first-round upset over former world champion Clive Leach & Graham Bassett in four.

The biggest surprise of the first two rounds came in an all-English match up between Jaymie Haycocks & Chris Walker and four seed Michael Ferreira & James Bamber, which the unseeded Haycocks & Walker claimed 15-11, 15-13, 14-15, 15-13.

Top Seeds James Stout & Scott Arnold, the latter of which entered as the defending champion, enjoyed a straight-forward path to the final with three 3-0 wins, including topping Bews & West in the semis 15-14, 15-11, 15-7.

In the bottom half of the draw, recent Boston Pro Am and Tavern Club champions Chris Callis & Manek Mathur endured tests against Clinton Leeuw & Ryan Cuskelly in the quarterfinals and pulling out a four-game semifinal against three seeds Zac Alexander & Greg McArthur 15-11, 15-6, 11-15, 15-6.

The tournament culminated with the match of the tournament as the top two seeds duked out a two-hour final at the R&T, and Callis &  Mathur capturing their partnership’s first Kellner Cup title 15-8, 11-15, 14-15, 15-13, 15-11. Watch a replay of the final on the SDA Youtube channel.

“It was probably one of the most exciting and most competitive doubles matches I’ve played in my career, if not the most competitive,” Mathur said. “I think every single point on the court was so contentious and played with so much intensity, which made it fun for everyone watching, but it was also extremely fun for us on court. James and Scott played an incredible match, they executed their strategy perfectly, which put us back our heels and forced us to rethink on the fly and find a way to counter their game plan and strategy. When you’re playing matches at that level you have to find a way to win, but also not find a way to lose, and there were a lot of times in that match that we were playing not to lose. A big thanks to my partner Chris, it was an extremely grueling match with him seeing a lot of rubber. Chris’ mental strength and tenacity really showed up to find ways to dig deep and find the strength to keep playing strong and come out as a team on top. I’m so grateful to be on court sharing these memories with him and I look forward to our next event together.”

Mathur celebrates his second Kellner Cup win after his 2017 triumph with Damien Mudge, while Callis collects his first.

“Big thank you to all of the sponsors and patrons especially James Stout,  Suzie Pierrepont and Johnny Smith for doing a great job at the three venues,” Mathur added. “Events like this are not easy to put on. There are a lot of logistics between the three clubs and pro ams, and everything that goes into it. So big thank you to them.”

Callis & Mathur Roll On to Win Back-to-Back Titles at the Tavern Club

Two weeks after claiming the Boston Pro Am title, Chris Callis & Manek Mathur continued their winning streak at the Tavern Club Invitational, April 23-24, in Cleveland.

The SDA Tour welcomed the return of the Tavern Club Invitational for the first time since 2019 as the event celebrated its fifteenth edition.

Callis & Mathur led the eight-team draw as the top seeds and made a slow start to the tournament, dropping their first game against Elroy Leong & Tor Christofferson before advancing 14-15, 15-7, 15-8, 15-6. The top seeds refined their form in the semifinals, dispatching four seeds Travis Judson & Alex Domenick 15-11, 15-5, 15-11.

The bottom half of the draw fielded a competitive slate of matches including a surprise final run by the unseeded Osama Khalifa & Kyle Martino. Two of the tour’s up and coming players, Khalifa & Martino upset three seeds Adam Bews & Jacques Swanepoel 13-15, 15-4, 15-9, 15-11. Khalifa & Martino then prevailed in the match of the tournament against two seeds Hameed Ahmed & Clinton Leeuw to reach their first career final 13-15, 15-10, 15-6, 12-15, 15-3 in eighty-minutes.

Both finalists had the afternoon to recover before jumping back on court for the final Sunday night. The experienced Callis & Mathur made no mistake on their way to the title 15-3, 15-4, 15-8 in forty minutes.

“It was a tough tournament all the way from the word go,” Callis said. “We lost our first game in the first round and we were a bit on our heels playing against some really good teams. After such a long time away from the game over the last couple of years, it’s amazing to see how strong the events remain from the quarters on. We knew from that wake up call in the first match that we were going to have to sharpen up and play our best game every match from thereon in. The last day of this tournament is always a tough one with the semis and finals on the same day. You have pro am matches and your body needs to be ready for all of it. I was really proud and how sharp we were right from the first rally of the finals.”

Callis celebrates his first title in Cleveland, while Mathur marks his fourth, adding to his 2016 title with Ben Gould and 2017 and 2018 titles with Damien Mudge. Both Callis & Mudge praised Khalifa & Martino’s first final appearance and the return of the event.

“It’s always great coming back to the Tavern Club and this time after two and a half years,” Mathur said. “A big shout out to Ian Sly for doing a super job organizing the tournament.  ]We have to give Hameed Ahmed a big shout out as the point person for the event, it’s always important to make sure that we give the refs and organizers get their due. We worked our way into the tournament and credit to Chris for making us stay focused and engaged and we were able to find form through to the end because of it. Kudos to Kyle and Osama who have been working their tails off to get better at this game, which we’ve seen in New York. It’s great to see these young guys take it so seriously and it’s a testament to the depth of the tour.”

“Osama and Kyle have improved a ton this season and have gone from the new faces on tour to the guys who are consistently pushing the top teams and making a dent on the SDA,” Callis added. “I’m excited to see what they do moving forward, but also proud of us building some momentum going into two of the biggest events of the year, the Kellner and NAO. Big shout out to the Tavern Club and Ian Sly putting together his fifteenth tournament. It’s one that everyone gets excited for, the staff and members are incredible. Shout out to Manek for playing some amazing squash and really bringing it today.”


White & Stoker Win Inaugural Onwentsia Mixed Pro Doubles

(l-r): Aidan Harrison, John White, Georgina Stoker

Former singles world No. 1 John White and women’s pro doubles world No. 6 Georgina Stoker upset the top two seeds to win the inaugural $20,000 Onwentsia Masters Mixed Pro title—the second Professional Mixed Doubles event of the season—April 10, in Lake Forest Illinois.

Stoker & White opened up their tournament with a four-game win over Onwentsia head professional Aidan Harrison & world No. 7 Suzie Pierrepont to set up a semifinal against two seeds Lauren West & Alexander Noakes.

Stoker & White then pulled off a decisive upset over West & Noakes 15-8, 15-13, 15-13 to reach the finals where they met top seeds Elani Landman & James Bamber.

Aidan Harrison reports on the final: “The first final of the day was the Pro Draw which saw speedy James Bamber from England playing exceptional squash and was balanced well with his partner South African, Elani Landman from NYAC. The strength of current world champion Georgina Stoker from England and John White was on full display as they were able to move up a gear at vital times during the match which carried them as they faced an uphill battle being two games to love down. Once Stoker was able to handle the thundering pace from Bamber on the crosscourt, she was able to contain Elani on the left wall. At crucial times in the third and fourth games at 10-all, Bamber made unforced errors and gave confidence to White who was able to make his accurate winners to tie up the match two-all. What a fifth game. Back and forth with both teams looking to force a winner at the right times, but it was the sneaky shooting by Stoker that gave her and White the first Masters Mixed Pro title at Onwentsia winning the fifth 15-11.”

The inaugural Ontwentsia Masters Mixed Pro Title was the second professional Mixed doubles event in as many weeks. The professional Mixed format was introduced for the first time this season with rankings points and prize money on offer for both the men’s and women’s professional doubles tours.