Category Archives: News

Russell & Bamber Rock Cleveland With First Tavern Club Title

(l-r): Rahul Mohan, James Bamber, Matt Brinn, John Russell, Dick Hollington, Bernardo Samper, Jack Herrick, Yvain Badan, Jack Turben, Jon Outcalt

England’s John Russell & James Bamber join the prestigious Tavern Club Open winners list after a successful partnership debut in Cleveland, Ohio.

Both Russell & Bamber entered the tournament with positive momentum on the SDA Pro Tour. Russell, world No. 5, had won the previous tour event leading up to the Tavern Club–the Graham Company Cup with Greg Park. Meanwhile, Bamber entered the tournament with a career high ranking of world No. 11 on the heels of inaugural SDA title in February–the Tompkins Cup.

The Englishmen entered the Tavern Club draw as the two seeds, opposing top seeds Bernardo Samper, world No. 7, & Yvain Badan, world No. 4.

The draw largely played out according to seeding with the top four seeds progressing to the semifinals, although the three and four seeds had to earn it in five-game quarterfinals. John Roberts & Hameed Ahmed, the four seeds, came back from 2-1 down to defeat Matt Domenick & Travis Judson 15-13 in the fifth, while Robin Clarke & Scott Arnold, the three seeds, held off a five-game comeback against Adam Bews & Colin West.

Saturday, April 13, made for an intense slate of doubles squash with both the semifinals and finals scheduled for the early afternoon and evening. The top two seeds both advanced to the final in four games. First, Russell & Bamber escaped 15-14 in the fourth to beat Clarke & Arnold. Samper & Badan then followed on to take down Roberts & Ahmed 15-8, 14-15, 15-9, 15-8.

In the final Russell avenged his PDC Cup final loss against the top seeds with Bamber, clinching the title 15-13, 13-15, 15-13, 15-8.

Russell celebrates his third title of the season, and first Tavern Club title having lost in the past two finals against Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge.

“It feels great to finally win this event after losing in the two previous finals,” Russell said. “Playing with James was a pleasure, he brings a lot of energy on the court with him and has the potential to carry on improving and being one of the best around.”

Bamber, twenty-three years old, continues his improving form with his second and largest career SDA title. The result also marks the first year that neither Damien Mudge or Ben Gould won the tournament since 2007.

“JR is a legend of the game so I was just trying to let him take the lead this weekend and help out where I could,” Bamber said. “I feel I’ve learnt a lot from playing with JR in just one weekend. It feels great to have another title in the bag for this season. I was looking back on the previous winners of the event and it’s a honor to be on the same board as them.”

The Tavern Club Open was first held in 2006.

“Ian Sly doses a fantastic job running an extremely organized event,” Russell said. “The Tavern Club members are very knowledgeable about the game and the size of the crowd made for a great atmosphere.”

April 2019 Rankings

1-Apr Name Country Tournaments Average 1-Mar
1 Chris Callis USA 7 3660.000 1
2 James Stout Bermuda 10 3467.857 2
3 Greg McArthur Scotland 8 3379.167 3
4 Yvain Badan Switzerland 9 3102.083 4
5 John Russell England 8 2910.417 7
6 Manek Mathur India 4 2830.000 5
7 Bernardo Samper Colombia 8 2660.417 6
8 Zac Alexander Australia 12 2564.063 8
9 Robin Clarke Canada 6 2315.000 9
10 Will Mariani Canada 7 2280.000 10
11 James Bamber England 8 1871.875 11
12 Thomas Brinkman Canada 5 1710.000 21
13 Greg Park USA 7 1687.500 16
14 Hameed Ahmed Finland 7 1626.250 14
15 Mike Ferreira England 10 1611.161 12
16 Whitten Morris USA 7 1435.000 23
17 John Roberts Ireland 8 1382.813 15
18 Adam Bews Scotland 9 1367.188 18
19 Clive Leach England 10 1323.214 19
20 Jordan Greenberg USA 12 1291.016 20

 

Complete Ranking List

Park Bows Out of the SDA Tour in Style With Fifth Graham Company Cup

John Russell (l) and Greg Park with their families

Former Germantown Cricket Club regular Greg Park extended his Graham Company Cup title record with his fifth on St. Patrick’s Day, after rekindling a partnership with John Russell for their second event this season.

Having spent two seasons together nearly seven years ago, Russell & Park reunited ahead of the David C. Johnson Jr. Memorial last month. In Brooklyn, Russell & Park put together a successful semifinal run as the three seeds.

In Philadelphia, Russell & Park once again entered the draw as the three seeds, but this time went one better.  Like Brooklyn, Russell & Park opened up their tournament with a difficult five-setter, holding off a comeback from Adam Bews & Hamed Anvari 15-13, 15-7, 7-15, 3-15, 15-10. Russell & Park then edged two seeds Robin Clark & Scott Alexander in a close semifinal 15-13, 15-13, 13-15, 15-12.

The top half of the draw saw Canadian four seeds Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman upset top seeds Bernardo Samper & Chris Callis–the new world No. 1 this month–15-9 in the fifth to reach the final.

In the final, the SDA veterans pulled through to clinch the title 15-10, 15-9, 8-15, 15-12.

While Russell adds his name to the Graham Company Cup winners list for the first time, Park marks his fifth, following up his 2014 title with Jonny Smith, 2012 and 2010 titles with Imran Khan and 2007 title with Shane Coleman. Coleman is second on the winners list having won three titles from 2004-2007.

“Playing with JR is always a lot of fun,” Park said. “A tremendous player on the court and a great guy off. Our families are very close throughout the year not just with squash. That helps to make a solid team. Plus JR, as everyone knows, is one of the best players of all time.”

Russell’s second title of the season came just days before his fortieth birthday on Wednesday, March 20.

“It feels good to be answering questions about a tournament win on my fortieth birthday,” Russell said. “Greg played really well this weekend, continuing to improve after playing great three weeks ago at the Heights event. His style compliments my game greatly. Feels good to have finally won this event as I’m pretty sure I had reached four finals there. It was also great to have my son and wife there watching.”

The Graham Company Cup may be the end of his established SDA Pro Tour career, Park admits. At thirty-six years old, Park–the 2012  and 2013 U.S. National Doubles champion and 2011 ISDA Rookie of the Year–played eight events this season.

“This was a special one for both of us,” Park said. “JR was able to get the win and have his wife and son there to watch. My fifth time winning is a great feeling. Germantown is where I started playing so I am glad to have won the most titles there, and this time I had my wife and three kids to cheer me on. My “lucky charms” that day. It was also special because it was most likely my last event and a great way to go out–a win with a great friend of mine and we had our families there to share it with.”

 

March 2019 Rankings

1-Mar Name Country Tournaments Average 1-Feb
1 Chris Callis USA 7 3742.500 2
2 James Stout Bermuda 10 3467.857 3
3 Greg McArthur Scotland 8 3379.167 5
4 Yvain Badan Switzerland 9 3102.083 4
5 Manek Mathur India 4 2830.000 1
6 Bernardo Samper Colombia 8 2829.167 6
7 John Russell England 8 2775.000 7
8 Zac Alexander Australia 12 2564.063 8
9 Robin Clarke Canada 5 2240.000 9
10 Will Mariani Canada 7 2230.000 10
11 James Bamber England 9 1871.875 12
12 Mike Ferreira England 9 1567.188 14
13 Scott Arnold Australia 3 1520.000 16
14 Hameed Ahmed Finland 8 1490.625 17
15 John Roberts Ireland 9 1382.813 18
16 Greg Park USA 8 1370.833 21
17 Bobby Burns USA 10 1370.089 20
18 Adam Bews Scotland 9 1367.188 19
19 Clive Leach England 11 1354.464 13
20 Jordan Greenberg USA 11 1343.304 24

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Callis Clinches World No. 1 in Historic David C. Johnson Jr. Memorial Alongside Alexander

(l-r): Adam Bews, Greg McArthur, James Stout, Chris Callis, Zac Alexander, Cristian Petrina, Whitten Morris

The 2019 David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial–world’s first professional hardball doubles event dating back to 1938–yielded a historic result in the form of a new world No. 1, Chris Callis, who captured the SDA Platinum title for the first time with Zac Alexander at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn.

The sixteen-team draw played out largely according to seeding with all four top seeds reaching the semifinals. Three seeds John Russell & Greg Park took the toughest route to the semis out of the top four sides. Russell & Park had to come back from 2-1 down against qualifiers Elroy Leong & Parth Sharma to win their opener in five, only to do it again in the second round, coming back from 2-1 down against Eric Bedell & William Hartigan to reach the semis in five.

After two, three-game wins to reach the semifinals, Callis & Alexander met their first hurdle in the form of top seeds Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan. Callis & Alexander earned the advantage in a close first two games 15-12, 15-13, but Samper & Badan came back to take the third 15-5. Callis & Alexander regained the edge in the fourth to reach the final 15-13.

Fresh off their Baltimore Cup title and with their highest career top five rankings this month, Stout & McArthur came back from 1-0 down to brush aside Russel & Park 14-15, 15-9, 15-13, 15-8.

A close final saw the first two games split and a simultaneous game/match ball in the fourth, at which point misfortune struck for McArthur a broken string sent his shot into the tin to hand the title to Callis & Alexander 15-7, 14-15, 15-7, 15-14.

While both players have now won multiple titles with different partners this season, the Johnson marked their debut together on the SDA Pro Tour.

“Playing with Chris was great,” Alexander said. “I think we complement each others game really well. I like to control the pace, placement and movement of the game and with Chris’ pure power and accuracy we gelled and made it tough for the other boys to break us down.”

Alexander shifted over to the left wall to accommodate the new partnership.

“I definitely felt like Zac and I were a pretty natural fit,” Callis said. “We’re both pretty patient out there and felt confident we would be a tough team to beat so long as we’re stayed disciplined with our game plans. Credit to Zac for playing such solid squash all weekend long in his first $40k on the left wall. Many of us right wallers can attest to the fact that it’s like having to learn a whole new sport when you go over to the left. Shows how much talent Zac has to pick it up that quickly.”

The 2018-2019 SDA season has been characterized by the absence of former world No. 1’s Manek Mathur and Damien Mudge due to injuries, which has created a competitive void for experimental and talented partnerships to emerge.

“It’s super tough to win an event these days,” Alexander said. “We all know it’s wide open right now so everyone pushes harder! I’ve been lucky enough to be on the winning end of the last few and personally I challenged myself to win on both walls left and right and to have two of those be top tier events is all the more special.”

“While there’s an undeniable void with Damien and Manek out of the draws, I think we’ve seen a bunch of guys really step their games up this year,” Callis said. “The top teams are separated by razor thin margins right now and it feels like we all bring the best out in one another. Both Samper/Badan and Stout/McArthur pushed us right to the edge.”

Callis will now become just the fourth world No. 1 in the SDA era since the professional tour’s reformation in 2012 in March’s rankings, following the likes of Ben Gould, Mudge and Mathur.

“It’s pretty amazing to be world No. 1,” Callis said. “I’m not sure it’s fully sunken in yet, to be honest. I certainly didn’t think I’d be at this point back in November when Manek tore his Achilles and I was really struggling with my knee. I’m so used to seeing Mudge, Mathur, or Gould at the top of the list that I’m not sure I’ll believe it when the rankings change over. It’s an honor to know you’re sharing a place with those guys who have set the standard for our sport.”

The historic nature of the 2019 David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial observes the end of the sport’s longest continuous title-winning streak–Mudge’s unparalleled Johnson seventeen-title streak spanning 2002-2018. Mudge was honored over the weekend for his indelible tournament legacy.

In 1938, Ned Bigelow started an open doubles championship at the Heights Casino. It was the first tournament that allowed professionals to participate and paid them if they won. Until the 1960’s, the Heights Casino tournament was the only open professional doubles tournament. In 1965, it was renamed after the early death of David C. Johnson, Jr., who was one of the tournament’s driving forces.

“A major thank you to everyone at Heights Casino for putting on another stellar event,” Callis said. “Every year they seem to find a way to one up the last. The members are all so enthusiastic and the energy is so much fun for all the players.”