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Russell & Arnold Celebrate Milestone Kellner Cup Triumph

(l-r): Scott Arnold, John Russell, Peter Kellner, George Kellner, Chris Callis, Robin Clarke

John Russell & Scott Arnold both hit career milestones by lifting the biennial $50,000 Kellner Cup for the first time in their careers–their largest career titles on the SDA Pro Tour–Monday night, April 29, at the Racquet & Tennis Club of New York.

The result also marks Russell’s third consecutive title following up the recent Graham Company Cup and Tavern Club Open–another career first. The string of results sends the Englishman up to career high world ranking of No. 2 in May’s Tour rankings.

The SDA Diamond draw attracted a full field of sixteen partnerships, four of which progressed through qualifying draws. The quarterfinals produced one of the tournament’s biggest upsets when recently-crowned U.S. National Doubles champions Mike Ferreira & Whitten Morris took out top seeds James Stout & Greg McArthur 15-12, 12-15, 15-11, 15-13.

Russell & Arnold entered the draw as the four seeds in what was their first appearance together this season. After dropping a game against qualifiers Alex Stait & Ed Garno in the first round, Russell & Arnold righted the ship to win their quarterfinal against Will Mariani & James Bamber and semifinal against Ferreira & Morris in three games to reach the final.

The bottom half of the draw largely played out according to seeding. Three seeds Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan pulled off a five-game escape after going 2-0 down against Jonny Smith & Jacques Swanepoel to reach the semifinals. Two seeds Robin Clarke & Chris Callis, world No. 1, progressed through the draw efficiently without dropping a game on their way to the final, including a 15-8, 15-12, 15-10 semifinal victory over Samper & Badan.

The final proved to be a close contest with Clarke & Callis taking the opening game 15-14. Russell & Arnold rebounded to take the second 15-10 before narrowly taking the third 15-14 and fourth 15-13 to claim the title.

While the Kellner Cup marked Russell & Arnold’s first tournament together this season, the duo picked up where they left off last season.

“This was our first event together for eleven months, but it felt as if we practice together everyday,” Russell said. “Our playing styles really compliment each other, we’ve now played seven events together, winning three and losing in four finals. “I recently turned forty and know that I probably only have a couple of years left at being able to compete at this level. I’ve definitely felt more focused than ever on the court.”

Russell, a two-time World Doubles champion for England, celebrates his fourth title of the season–all coming with different partners–and eleventh overall title, while Arnold collects his seventh career title.

Arnold returns to the rankings’ top ten for the first time since December 2018 following the result, while Russell bests his previous career high ranking of No. 3 with the No. 2 position. Russell & Arnold will close out the season together as the three seeds in the Buffalo Club Pro Doubles draw, May 9-12.

The tournament’s namesake, George Kellner, presented the trophy to Russell & Arnold in front of a packed R&T gallery.

“Winning the Monday night final on a packed R&T court for the Kellner Cup would be the highlight of anyone’s career,” Russell said. “Jonny Smith, Damien Mudge and Manek Mathur all combined to make the event run extremely well with lots of extra perks for the players.”

2019 was the thirteenth iteration of the Kellner Cup, which was first hosted in 2000. The tournament was co-hosted by three New York City clubs: the University Club, Union Club and Racquet & Tennis Club.

 

 

May 2019 Rankings

1-May Name Country Tournaments Average 1-Apr
1 Chris Callis USA 8 3633.333 1
2 John Russell England 9 3558.333 5
3 James Stout Bermuda 10 3467.857 2
4 Greg McArthur Scotland 8 3379.167 3
5 Yvain Badan Switzerland 11 3058.929 4
6 Zac Alexander Australia 11 2748.214 8
7 Bernardo Samper Colombia 10 2744.643 7
8 Robin Clarke Canada 8 2595.833 9
9 Scott Arnold Australia 4 2285.000 27
10 James Bamber England 10 2216.071 11
11 Will Mariani Canada 8 2191.667 10
12 Manek Mathur India 3 2042.500 6
13 Mike Ferreira England 10 1760.714 15
14 Greg Park USA 7 1687.500 13
15 Hameed Ahmed Finland 8 1581.771 14
16 Whitten Morris USA 8 1570.833 16
17 Jonny Smith England 5 1525.625 32
18 Thomas Brinkman Canada 4 1460.000 12
19 John Roberts Ireland 9 1408.854 17
20 Clive Leach England 10 1323.214 19

 

Complete Ranking List

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.”