Category Archives: Featured

Stout & McArthur Continue Ascent in Baltimore

(l-r): James Stout, Greg McArthur, Bernardo Samper, Yvain Badan, Wade Johnstone

Boasting their highest career rankings of world No. 3 and 5, James Stout & Greg McArthur continued their ascent on the SDA tour with their second title of the season—the SDA Gold Baltimore Cup at the Baltimore Country Club in Maryland.

Stout & McArthur, who won Sleepy Hollow in December, nearly collected their second title of the season two weeks prior to the Baltimore Cup at the North American Open as the top seeds, falling just short in a five-game final against Robin Clarke & Zac Alexander.

“It’s always nice to bounce back from a loss with a victory like this,” McArthur said. “I was really disappointed after the NAO final loss. I felt like I wasn’t at my best, so was determined to prepare better for this tournament and it seems to have paid off.”

“After playing a great tournament in the North American Open and falling just short in the final, we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could do one better in this event,” Stout said.

The motivation to improve on their NAO result shone through as Stout & McArthur entered the draw as two seeds, opposing top seeds Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan.

Stout & McArthur progressed to the final without dropping a game, including a semifinal win over Canadian three seeds Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman.

Americans Graham Bassett & William Hartigan pulled off the tournament’s biggest upset in the quarterfinals, taking out four seeds Omar El Kashef & Jordan Greenberg in three games. Bassett & Hartigan continued their momentum against Samper & Badan in the semis, earning a 2-1 advantage, but the top seeds bounced back to reach the final in five games 15-13, 12-15, 14-15, 15-7, 15-8.

The final set up a rematch of the Sleepy Hollow final between the top two seeds, and yielded the same result with Stout & McArthur clinching the title in four games 15-12, 11-15, 15-10, 15-7.

“We had a couple of close games in the earlier matches and went into the final excited to play Bernardo and Swiss in another final,” Stout said. “Greg has been playing some of the best doubles I have seen from him over the past couple of months, and he continued that form throughout the final, moving the ball around and hitting winners from some ridiculous positions. Bernardo and Swiss were great opponents and will surely come back stronger with a couple of big events coming up in the near future.”

The result will bolster the top five rankings that both players achieved this month, after edging Badan, world No. 4, and Samper, world No. 6.

“It’s been an exciting season so far,” McArthur said. “I feel like every event has had three or four teams that could potentially win it. I’m just happy that James and I keep giving ourselves chances to win. James and I have good chemistry on the court. We play to each other’s strengths and feel that when we are at our best we can beat any team. Big thank you to Wade Johnston and all the members at Baltimore Country Club for a fantastic tournament.”

Stout & McArthur enjoyed a successful end to the 2017-2018 season, earning two titles in April and May. In addition to their Sleepy Hollow title this season, Stout marks his third title of the season having won the Westchester Country Club Pro Doubles with Badan.

“We are both excited to have broken into the top 5 in the world this month, and join a distinguished list of players that have gotten that high,” Stout said. “We are enjoying being on tour with a great group of pros, at all of the different events, and meeting the local players and supporters that make the game possible.”

Clarke & Alexander Battle Through NAO Draw to Win Partnership’s First Title

(l-r): Zac Alexander, Robin Clarke, Greg McArthur, James Stout

In their fourth appearance of the season together, Robin Clarke & Zac Alexander went the distance to their first title, battling through two, 2-hour matches in the semifinals and final of the SDA Diamond North American Open at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club in Connecticut.

Clarke & Alexander’s first major hurdle came in the quarterfinals against three seeds Chris Callis & long-time SDA veteran Matt Jenson, who made a return in Greenwich. Clarke & Alexander squeezed through in three games, winning on simultaneous game balls at 14-all in the first and third games.

Clarke & Alexander had come through at 14-all once again in the semifinals, this time in the fifth game against two seeds Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan, completing a five-game comeback from 2-1 down.

The top half of the draw saw in-form James Stout & Greg McArthur overcome a four-game first-round test, to reach the final courtesy of three game wins over Clive Leach & Kyle Martino in the quarters, and Will Mariani & James Bamber in the semis.

The final staged a rematch of the Sleepy Hollow quarterfinals, where Stout & McArthur came back from 2-0 down to defeat Clarke & Alexander in five. Clarke & Alexander were up 2-1 with match balls in hand, when Stout & McArthur staged a comeback to force a fifth game on simultaneous game ball. This time in the fifth, Clarke & Alexander came through to clinch their first career title together 15-9, 6-15, 15-4, 14-15, 15-10.

“It could’ve been a very different story if we had have lost that 14-14 in the 5th point against such a tough team in Bernie and Swiss,” Alexander said. “But to back up a 2+ hour match with another 2 hour battle in the final and having match points to close it out in the 4th, it shows our physical and mental strength is there to compete and beat any team and sustain quality throughout a whole event. Even our quarter against Callis and Jenson was tough with 2 games being 15-14 in our favor.”

Both players mark their first time winning the historic North American Open, which dates back to 1931. Alexander celebrates his second title of the season, adding to his Denver Club Open win in the fall, and Clarke collects his first of the season.

“It was a great weekend for Robin and I,” Alexander said. “Our fourth time pairing up and everything clicked. Amazing to capture such a prestigious title like the NAO, especially for me being based in Greenwich over the last several years and even working at Round Hill as an assistant for two of them.”

The tour heads south to Maryland next week for the SDA Gold Baltimore Cup, February 6-10.

Roberts & West Win First SDA Title in Pittsburgh Debut

(l-r): Jim Shields, Graham Bassett, Adam Bews, Colin West, John Roberts

First-time partners John Roberts & Colin West went the distance to win their first career SDA titles at the sixth Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger in Pennsylvania.

Roberts, a Yale graduate, and West, a Harvard graduate, had a difficult first match together on the SDA tour, defeating Western Ontario graduates Ryan Herden & Mark Porter 15-9 in the fifth.

“We had a hard first match against Ryan and Mark and managed to squeak it out in five,” Roberts said. “I guess it was the first time on court together so it always takes a little time to get comfortable enough to know which balls to leave and take. As the tournament progressed, the matches were still long and tough but we got a little more comfortable with the court and each other so everything became more fluid which helped a lot.”

Roberts & West then went on to upset both of the tournament’s top seeds. In the semifinals, Roberts & West took out two seeds Clinton Leeuw & Omar El Kashef 15-12, 9-15, 15-10, 15-11. Roberts & West then dethroned top seeds Graham Bassett & Adam Bews to clinch the title 15-10, 12-15, 15-8, 15-9.

The Pittsburgh Golf Club Challenger was first held in 2014.

“It’s great to win our first tournament in Pittsburgh,” Roberts said. “This is always one of my favorite events and was one of the first I started playing every year. Jim, the members and the staff do an incredible job of making the pros feel so welcome at the club and ensuring we all have a fantastic weekend. I look forward to being back again next year.”

Russell & Callis Bag First Title in Bean Town

(l-r): John Russell, Chris Callis, James Bamber, Will Mariani

Two seeds John Russell & Chris Callis added their names to the SDA Platinum MFS Pro-Am Boston champions’ list for the first time, overcoming a competitive draw at the University Club of Boston.

Russell, world No. 8, found himself in need of a last-minute partner leading up to the tournament, and Chris Callis fortuitously stepped in boasting his highest career ranking of No. 3 this month.

Russell & Callis slotted into the draw as two seeds with an arduous draw of defending champion Robin Clarke and Commonwealth Games doubles gold medalist Zac Alexander in the quarterfinals. Russell & Callis shot their way past Clarke & Alexander to advance to the semifinals in three games 15-11, 15-9, 15-11.

“We knew it’d be a tough draw all the way through when we saw it was Robin and Zac in the first round,” Callis said. “Luckily JR was shooting outrageously well in the first match, so we were able to get comfortable pretty quickly.”

First-time partners James Stout & Eric Bedell met Russell & Callis in the semis after escaping a grueling quarterfinal against Mike Ferreira & Whitten Morris in five games. Russell & Callis ended their run in four games to reach the final. The top half of the draw produced the upset of the tournament in the form of Will Mariani & James Bamber toppling Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan in a four-game semifinal.

In the final, Russell & Callis recovered from dropping a narrow  second game to claim the title in four 15-10, 14-15, 15-5, 15-13.

“I was extremely lucky to have Chris Callis step in as a last minute sub,” Russell said. “He played really well all weekend. It feels great to get back in the winners circle again!”

“We certainly had a few stretches where we weren’t as comfortable as we’d like on court,which is to be expected,” Callis said, “But thankfully we were able to play tough on the big rallies and pull those matches out. Certainly feeling sore today after all those tough matches!”

Russell, the 2017 world doubles champion, celebrates his first title of the season in Boston, while Callis adds the MSF Pro-Am to his season-opening Maryland Club Open title.

For the first time in tournament history, the MSF Pro-Am Boston offered equal prize money with an eight-team WSDA draw held concurrently. Doubles veterans Suzie Pierrepont & Natalie Grainger defeated the likes of Amanda Sobhy & Fernanda Rocha in the semifinals, and Narelle Krizek and Stephanie Hewitt in the final to claim the historic title.

“The university club of Boston and its members are fantastic hosts,” Russell said. “This year the event was extra special as it joined forces with the Harvard Club and WSDA to host a women’s event with equal prize money.”

The MFS Pro-Am Boston was first held in 1992.

“It’s one of the tournaments we all circle on the calendar before the season, so it’s pretty cool to finally get the title,” Callis said. “You see the list of the guys who have won it in the past and it’s a who’s who of all-time great doubles players. To be on the same list with those guys is pretty cool. Major thanks to the club and all the sponsors for taking such great care of us players.”

Samper & Badan Secure Second Title of the Season in Atlanta

L-r Hameed Ahmed, John Russell, Chad hood, David Bridges, Yvain Badan, Bernardo Samper, Ahmed Hamza

World No. 8 Bernardo Samper & world No. 3 Yvain Badan lifted their second SDA trophy of the season–the SDA Gold PDC Cup–at the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta, Georgia.

Samper & Badan entered the twelve-team draw as the top seeds with a predicted final against defending champion John Russell and his Finnish first-time partner Hameed Ahmed.

The surprise run of the tournament came courtesy of Bobby Burns & Jordan Greenberg in the top half of the draw. After a three-game first-round win over Joshua Schwartz & Peter Kelly, Burns & Greenberg took out four seeds Mike Ferreira & Aaron Luque 15-12, 8-15, 15-8, 15-12 to reach their first semifinal of the season. Outside of their semifinal foray, the draw played out according to seeding with the top three seeds all progressing to the semifinals.

The first semifinal saw Russell & Ahmed earn a 2-1 lead against three seeds Jonny Smith & Jacques Swanepoel, at which point Smith was forced to concede the match due to injury. The top seeds followed on with a decisive 15-12, 15-13, 15-5 semifinal victory against Burns & Greenberg.

A narrow start to the final saw both sides trade games with Samper & Badan taking the first 15-11, and Russell & Ahmed the second, 15-9. Samper & Badan crucially edged the third 15-13, before pulling away to win in the fourth 15-5.

“JR and Hameed played great and complemented each other well,” Badan said. “We found our groove during the finals and played well at the critical points in games one and three, which gave us the 2-1 lead. In the fourth we got even more comfortable and shot really well.”

The title marks Badan’s third of the season in addition to the Big Apple Open with Samper and the Westchester Country Club with James Stout. Last year, Russell won the PDC Cup with Scott Arnold. Ahmed marks his second final appearance of the season, following up the Denver Club Open in October.

“Swiss and I peaked at the right time in the tournament,” Samper said. “In the first two matches we didn’t feel that comfortable and we were struggling to play our game. In the final we played at a higher pace and took the openings well to finish the points. JR is a great player and it’s always fun to be on court with him. Hameed is very dangerous and is starting to be more confident on court. His name will be moving up the rankings quickly.”

Badan is now level with Damien Mudge with three PDC titles since its inception in 2013.

“It’s a wonderful group of people, which makes it a special place,” Badan said. “And any time you can win somewhere special, it feels great. Ahmed Hamza, Ted Griffith, Julian Mohr and everyone behind the tournament does a terrific job. The players are always grateful and excited to be part of the PDC Cup. We are already looking forward to coming back in 2019.”

The PDC Cup marks the final SDA event of the 2018 calendar year with the tour set to return to action in January 2019 with the MFS Pro-Am Boston, January 10-13.