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Award Winners Recognized at U.S. Open

Graham Bassett, the Squash Doubles Association (SDA) tour director, presented the association’s annual awards on court yesterday at the 2019 FS Investments U.S. Open. Bassett spoke about the benchmarks of the men’s professional tour: events were contested in twenty cities across Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. with prize money totaling more than $600,000. “As a player-run tour,” Bassett said, “these awards are particularly impactful for players as they are recognitions from their peers.”

Colin West was given the 2019 Rookie of the Year Award. West won the Pittsburgh Golf Challenger in February and rose to No. 25 in the SDA rankings.

The Most Improved Player Award went to Hameed Ahmed. He was a finalist at the Denver Club Open and the Piedmont Driving Club Cup in Atlanta and was a semifinalist at the Tavern Club Open in Cleveland. In just three seasons on tour, Ahmed, the associate head coach at Harvard, has risen to No. 15 in the world rankings.

The Team of the Year Award was given to James Stout & Greg McArthur. This tandem captured the Baltimore Cup and were finalists at the Maryland Club Open, North American Open, and the David C. Johnson Jr. Memorial.

John Russell won the Player of the Year Award. Russell, playing with five different partners, reached eleven finals and won five events, including the prestigious Kellner Cup. His impressive season saw him finish atop the SDA rankings.

The Sportsmanship Award was given to Greg McArthur. “This player was selected by his peers,” Bassett said, “as a consummate gentleman on and off the court. He plays clean and never exchanges a negative word with opponents on court, all while achieving a career high No. 4 ranking.”

SDA Tour Director Graham Bassett (l) with SDA award recipients.(l-r) John Russell, Greg McArthur, James Stout and Hameed Ahmed

Maryland Club Open Given SDA Tournament of Year Award

l-r: Andrew Cordova, Stewart Shettle and Hugh McGurk

The Squash Doubles Association, the men’s North American pro doubles tour, handed out its coveted Tournament of the Year Award at the 2017 United States Open to the Maryland Club.

Graham Bassett, the SDA’s tour director, handed out the award to Andrew Cordova, the head squash pro, Hugh McGurk, tournament chairman and Stewart Shettle, squash committee chairman of the Maryland Club.

For the third year in a row, the downtown Baltimore men’s club was honored with this award as voted by SDA players. It has long been an anchor of squash doubles, hosting the famous Baltimore Invitational Doubles for decades and more recently adding a major stop on the pro tour.

Renowned for hospitality, a lucrative purse and avid, knowledgeable fans, the Maryland Club Open is a favorite among the tour’s players.

More than forty Maryland Club members took traveled north to watch U.S. Open matches Thursday night.

The Maryland Club hopes to open a third doubles court next year.

U.S. Open Celebrates Doubles Community

2016-2017 U.S. doubles national champions.

Doubles came to singles, as a new tradition at the 2017 United States Open Squash Championship started today.

Doubles Day celebrated the game of doubles. A hugely popular and growing game in the U.S., squash doubles was originally created in 1907 at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, less than twenty blocks from the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Doubles Day included a look at the future of the game, with the U.S. Intercollegiate Squash Doubles Championships in full swing at Germantown Cricket Club.

The SDA, the men’s pro doubles association with a continent-wide, twenty-event tour, celebrated their 2016-17 awards at Doubles Day. They included the team of the year Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge; player of the year Manek Mathur; most improved player Bobby Burns and James Bamber; sportsmanship honoree Chris Callis; and rookie of the year Clinton Leeuw.

Doubles Day also honored all the national champions from last season. Honorees in attendance included Barry Abelson (men’s 80+), Jed Burde (junior boys U17) Ed Chilton (men’s 50+), Ed Garno and Narelle Krizek (mixed open), Rachel Mashek (junior girls U19), Andrew and Maxwell Orr (father & son 15 and under) and Emily and Abigail Schuster (junior girls U15).

Watch the 2016-2017 SDA Awards presentation below:

Mudge & Mathur Close Out First Season Together With Ninth Title in Cleveland

TCI trophy
l-r: Joe Juster, Jack Turben, Matthew Brinn, John Russell, Raj Nanda, Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur, Ian Sly.

New joint world No. 1’s Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge ended their first, nearly flawless season together with a ninth title out of ten tournaments—the $35,000 Tavern Club Invitational in Cleveland, Ohio.

Four days after emphatically winning the $50,000 Kellner Cup in New York City Monday, April 24, Mathur & Mudge returned to the court with a three-game quarterfinal win over Alex Domenick & Aaron Luque. Elsewhere in the draw, the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals with only Canadians Will Mariani & Fred Reid needing more than three games to progress.

A difficult Saturday included both semifinals in the early afternoon and final later that evening. Mathur & Mudge stepped up in the first semifinal to handily defeat Mariani & Reid 15-7, 15-7, 15-8. The ensuing second semifinal went the full distance, however, as two seeds John Russell & Raj Nanda came back from two games down to defeat three seeds Imran Khan & Jacques Swanepoel 12-15, 10-15, 15-8, 15-11, 15-8.

In the final, Russell & Nanda took the second game off the top seeds, but it wasn’t enough as Mathur & Mudge bounced back to claim the title 15-11, 11-15, 15-7, 15-8.

The final ended what had been an exhausting fortnight for Mathur & Mudge.

“Organizing and playing in the Kellner was extremely fatiguing,” Mathur said. “Damien and I were sitting at dinner on Monday night after the Final and both our shoulders dropped and we embraced our exhaustion. It took a good two days to feel refreshed and it was time to head to Cleveland.”

“It was quite challenging to get up for it mentally and physically,” Mudge said. “At this stage of the season, it was our last push knowing we have almost five months off.”

Mathur successfully defended his 2016 title with Mudge’s long-time partner Ben Gould, while Mudge augments yet another tournament record with his eighth Tavern Club title since his first in 2008. Mathur & Mudge complete their ten-tournament season just one loss all season, the season-opening Maryland Club final in October.

“I think we’re lucky to be able to have such good experiences off the court,” Mathur said. “There’s nothing better than traveling around with one of your best friends and exposing yourselves to new cities. We both really enjoy Cleveland and the Tavern Club so we were looking forward to finishing our season up there. Ian Sly and his members make us feel at home and do a great job with the tournament. Maryland was obviously a tough loss, but we were not the better team that Sunday. I still feel that this has been an unbelievable season with a couple dominant and solid performances on our end. I can say we are both pretty excited to have some time off and enjoy the off season, but at the same time, I am looking forward to getting back out there with the 215lbs, 6’4” Australian next season!”

“I think our season was very strong, Manek was a stud all season and played amazingly well,” Mudge said. “We very rarely dropped many games during the season, which is challenging to do within itself let alone winning nine events. It’s a little bitter-sweet not to have an undefeated season. They are very special and don’t happen much in one’s career, but all in all extremely happy!”

The 2016-2017 SDA Pro Tour season concludes with the $25,000 Buffalo Club Pro Doubles, May 12-14.

CLEAN SWEEP FOR THE NEW PAIR IN TORONTO

THE CAMBRIDGE DOUBLES FINAL.  MONDAY NOV 21

Report From Martin Bronstein

Damian Mudge may be the old man of the doubles circuit but tonight at the Cambridge Club he showed why he has been top man for so long with so many tournament notches on his belt. Yes, he had a partner, Manek Mathur, a new match this season, but as Michael Ferreira and Yvain Badan had decided on targeting the older man in an attempt to wear him out, it seemed Mudge had to hit most of the balls and Mathur (Badan’s former partner) was reduced to that of a supporting role.

The first game was no indication of what was in store for Ferreira & Badan as they more than held their own, probably encouraged by their first meeting this season when they beat Mathur & Mudge 15-13 in the fifth. (Mind you, at their next meeting they lost 3/0)

Mudge was firing a barrage of balls back at Ferreira on the left wall and his two-handed backhand was given a lot of work. On some shots Ferreira added a sort of snapped slice, sending the ball into the front right nick – it was unreadable and promised much grief for his opponents – but ultimately caused grief to himself with a high error count.

There were few long rallies as both teams were looking for opportunities to go short. There were some wonderfully dynamic rallies with displays of lightning reaction that caused cheers from the packed bleachers.  At 13-13, it was still anybody’s game when the ball broke. The warmed up ball was Mudge’s lucky charm – he won the next points with a fluke nick off the frame and then an outright winner on a reverse nick – 15-13 after 18 entertaining minutes.

Sadly that was about it. The first point of the second game was another lucky nick, the next point went to him and his partner when Badan was denied a let and from that moment they just raced away. Mudge was hitting screaming cross-courts that were too fast for Ferreira to scrape off the wall: he was cutting in surprise drops and disguised drops for which his opponents had no answer. And always Mathur was there as solid backup.  Mathur & Mudge were 8-3 up and with the help of eight outright winners took the game 15-6 in 16 minutes – which included time out for a broken ball.

Now Ferreira & Badan are known for their determination, their never-say-die attitude and coming back from match ball down, so there was anticipation for the third game, despite the evidence of the second game.

Alas, it was not to be and once again Mathur & Mudge raced away to lead 8-2 and although Badan hit three winners to give hope at 5-8, the race was virtually over and after just 13 minutes Mathur & Mudge  had the game (symbolically the last point was on an unforced error from Ferreira ) and the match as well as then their names on the Jim Bentley Cup.

In the changing room Mudge said he’d had a good work out during the day “…and opened my hips. So when I’m feeling good in my body, I’m more confident.”  Tomorrow he will be undergoing his third knee operation: he certainly did not play like a one-legged man.

For Mike and Yvain it was a bad day at the office, and scant reward for all the hard work of the weekend when they had to ground out victories, in contrast to the winners who had a comparatively easy route to the final. Roll on 2017.