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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.”

Arnold & Clarke Lift Largest SDA Title in Boston

The 2018 MFS Pro-Am Boston final, (l-r): Scott Arnold, Yvain Badan, Robin Clarke, Mike Ferreira

Canadian national doubles champions Scott Arnold & Robin Clarke started off the new year by winning their biggest SDA title to date–the platinum MFS Pro-Am Boston at the University Club and Harvard Club of Boston.

Arnold has spent majority of this season playing with John Russell and has risen to world No. 3 with his new partnership. Arnold had been entered with Russell until the Englishman was forced to pull out of the tournament two weeks leading up to it. Clarke, world No. 49,  filled in for Russell and entered the draw with Arnold as the four seeds.

The first two rounds saw just one match progress to five games as Bostonians Graham Bassett & John Roberts pipped Canadians Tyler Hamilton & Robert Nigro 15-14 in the fifth game. The top four seeds all progressed to the semifinals, where Arnold & Clarke and top seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan both won in three games.

A marathon final concluded the tournament with two big momentum shifts throughout. Arnold & Clarke edged the first two games 15-11, 15-14, courtesy of a few more errors from Ferreira & Badan. The top seeds came back in the third and fourth, however, cutting down their error counts to win 15-11, 15-11. The fifth progressed with a close scoreline until at 10-all, Clarke fired off a sequence of winners to claim the title 15-10.

“The first two games had a lot of long rallies and it was very competitive, but they made a few more mistakes which allowed us to keep the lead in those games,”  Clarke said. “In the third and fourth, personally, I started to fade a bit physically so I started to get a little lethargic with my movement, and they stopped making mistakes.  Mike started hitting some ridiculous winners. In the fifth it was pretty much anybody’s game and we were going back and forth. Around 10-all we won five in a row and I hit a few winners to close out the match.”

“It’s always tough to switch the momentum after losing a couple of games,” Arnold added. “But we had a good idea of what we were trying to do out there, it was just a matter of trying to get back to those things and staying positive.”

The MFS Pro-Am Boston marked Arnold & Clarke’s third career SDA title together and first since the 2016 Toronto Cricket Club Open.

(l-r): Lenny Bernheimer, Robin Clarke, Scott Arnold, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira, Amrit Kanwal.

“I think it’s one of the if not the strongest doubles communities around,” Clarke said. “The members are amazing. They treat the players unbelievably well. The committee, Lenny and everybody makes sure that when we land, everything is taken care of. So really we’re able to focus solely on competing and playing the best doubles we can. The Pro-Am component of it is great. The members are always fun to play with and you always meet someone new and make new friends. The other cool thing with Boston is walking through the club and seeing the previous champions listed and the pictures of them. It’s one of the most prestigious titles on tour in my opinion.”

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

“The first event after the holidays is always a tough one, so it’s definitely nice to come out and get the win, having it be in Boston where we both love to visit and play is a bonus,” Arnold said. “The Squash community down in Boston is obviously a great one.  The fact that so many of the members, sponsors, friends, etc., turned out despite the snowstorm and freezing temperatures showed just how much they love their Squash down there.  Also that the support and enthusiasm levels are so high for this event year in year out, it really is a fun one to play.”

View images from the tournament on the SDA Smugmug page. Watch match replays below on the SDA YouTube page.

Mudge Augments Boston Title Record; Mathur Marks Second Consecutive Title

sda-boston-crop l-r: Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur, Lenny Bernheimer, Amrit Kanwal, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira

Damien Mudge augmented his MFS Pro-Am Boston title  record with his tenth, and first with world No. 1 Manek Mathur this weekend at the University Club of Boston.

The Australian lost in the 2016 final with former partner Viktor Berg against Mathur & Yvain Badan, and entered the 2017 edition as the top seed with his new left-wall partner, Mathur, with three titles under their belt already in their first season together.

Despite more than a month off since the tour’s last event in Toronto, the top seeds picked up where they left by winning their fourth title, dropping just one game along the way in the semifinals against four seeds John Russell & Berg.

The bottom half of the draw included surprise semifinalists Will Mariani & Thomas Brinkman. The Canadian duo upset Baset Chaudhry & Clive Leach in a four-game, first-round match, and then took out Australian three seeds Matt Jenson & Scott Arnold in three games to reach their first major semifinal where their run ended.

Two seeds Mike Ferreira & Badan held off a four-game quarterfinal challenge against Imran Khan & Greg Park, before brushing off Mariani & Brinkman in a three-game semifinal. The final was all Mathur & Mudge, however, who commanded the final to win 15-13, 15-4, 15-7.

The 2017 Boston title is also Mudge’s first on the right wall since his final title with Waite in 2005. Mudge & Waite also won in 2002 and 2003.

Mudge revealed that he underwent minor knee surgery during the tour’s brief hiatus.

“It was difficult to come back after a while off for sure,” Mudge said. “I had knee surgery on November 22 right after the Cambridge, so it was a quick turn around and was very happy that the knee held up for the weekend.”

The world No. 3 and longtime world No. 1 said the partnership with Mathur continues to develop and improve with each tournament as the tour approaches two busy months in January and February.

“It was important to have a good showing and have that momentum hopefully carry us through the next couple of months,” Mudge said. “It gives us a lot to build on. Myself and Manek’s partnership is getting better and better. Our understanding of what each of us do and adjust to situations happening on court are becoming more instinctual. It’s a pleasure being on court with him.”

“Our performance Sunday was pretty solid and both Damien and I have had our fair share of adversity leading up to this event,” Mathur said. “To find a way to come our strong was important for us and I am glad we managed to do so.”

The 2017 edition of the tournament enjoyed new title sponsorship support from MFS Financial.

“Big thanks to Amrit Kanwal on taking on the new sponsorship and supporting the SDA,” Mathur said. “He’s such a great supporter of our sport and I speak on behalf of the community that we’re lucky to have him involved in squash.”

“Boston is a special place for me—I have built many relationships here over the years and spent a bunch of time up at the University Club,” Mathur added. “To have my name on that title twice now with two different partners is humbling and I’m extremely happy about it. Another big thank you to Lenny, Tom Poor, Chris Spahr and the entire tournament committee for running a first class event.”

The tour resumes next weekend in Missouri with the $20,000 Missouri Athletic Club Open.

View MFS Pro-Am Boston images in the tournament gallery.

Watch live stream replays below.

Mathur & Badan Claim Maiden Putnam Pro-Am Title

The 2016 Putnam Pro-Am final, L-R: Yvain Badan, Viktor Berg, Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur.
The 2016 Putnam Pro-Am final, L-R: Yvain Badan, Viktor Berg, Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur.

Putnam Pro-Am Draw SDA Live

Trinity grads Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan avenged their Wilmington final loss against Damien Mudge & Viktor Berg to win their first career SDA Putnam Pro-Am title and first title of the season Sunday afternoon at the University Club of Boston.

The world No. 3’s dropped just one game all tournament as the two seeds, which was capped off with an emphatic 15-10, 15-10, 15-6 final victory over the top seeds and world No. 2 Mudge. The $40,000 Putnam Pro-Am is their first title since the 2014 PDC Cup.

The champions’ only game lost came in their opening quarterfinal against Matt Jenson & Hamed Anvari. Mathur & Badan then dispatched fellow Bantam Jonny Smith & Greg Park on simultaneous game/match ball in the third game of their semifinal.

Mudge & Berg endured a difficult road to the final that began with a four-game quarterfinal victory over Graham Bassett & Andres Vargas. Canadian doubles champions Robin Clarke & Scott Arnold continued their fine form by reaching their second consecutive semifinal with an upset over four seeds Clive Leach & Imran Khan in the quarterfinals.

The 2015 rookies of the year then won the opening game against Mudge & Berg, before the veterans recovered to reach the final in four games 14-15, 15-5, 15-14, 15-10.

Last month in Wilmington, Mudge & Berg had reunited after five years to win a dramatic five-game final. Mudge then won the prestigious Briggs Cup in the last tournament of 2015 with long-time partner and fellow world No. 1 Ben Gould, who announced his retirement upon winning the Briggs.

The close Wilmington final contrasted the Boston final with Mathur & Badan maintaining complete control on their way to the title.

“I think in this final we felt more in control,” Badan said. “The Wilmington final was a great match that I think was lost because they were better during several crucial points. This tournament fortunately, we had a strategy that we executed very well. Throughout the match we felt really good and in control, and things rolled our way.”

“I think the difference today was that we commanded our positioning and the pace and we were in control of the match from the beginning,” Mathur added. “Normally someone like Damien always finds his way early on the match, but I think today we had a great strategy from the beginning that kept us in control. We found our way well around court so that we controlled it, which helped us control the rallies and win the match.”

The champions received plenty of local support from a packed gallery during the final.

“Boston is a special place for us,” Mathur said. “Because we went to Trinity in Hartford, we have so many friends, teammates and classmates in the area who came to support us. The closest place to us apart from Connecticut and New York is Boston so it’s great to win close to home and with such great support. It’s great to win there for the first time.”

Their Putnam victory brings Mathur & Badan one step closer to the world’s top rankings.

“We’ve always had our sights set on that No. 1 ranking,” Badan said. “It’s just another obstacle that we have to get over to get the top. We worked pretty hard over the break, and that fired us up so it’s great to see hard work and effort paying off. It’s great to come back after three weeks with this win.”

Over the weekend the SDA honored tournament organizers Lenny Bernheimer, Tom Poor, and the University Club of Boston for hosting twenty-five years of pro doubles in Boston. .

“It’s a great event,” Mathur said. “Lenny Bernheimer, Tom Poor, and all of those guys do a great job. The event has been around for twenty-five years so it’s an awesome event to show you how doubles has grown but also maintain consistent support with longstanding events such as this. Their incredible support is so important to the tour.”

Mathur sits out the St. Louis Open next weekend, and Badan will partner with another Bantam in the form of world No. 9 Mike Ferreira as the two seeds. Mudge & Berg are once again top seeds.

Watch match replays on SDA Live.


SDA Putnam Pro-Am Heralds Post-Mudge & Gould Era

The 2015 Putnam Pro-Am Final. L-R: Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge, Yvain Badan.
The 2015 Putnam Pro-Am Final. L-R: Yvain Badan, Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur.

Putnam Pro-Am Draw SDA Live

The SDA Pro Tour rings in the new year with the $40,000 Putnam Pro-Am at the University Club of Boston this weekend.

The tournament is the first to take place since the storied $100,000 Briggs Cup in December, in which Ben Gould & Damien Mudge won their final title together as Gould announced his retirement.

Thus, the Putnam Pro-Am marks the first tournament in a new era without the most dominant side of the past five years. One half of that partnership persists in the form of Mudge, however, who leads the draw with Viktor Berg.

In early December, Mudge & Berg reunited their partnership for the first time in six years to win the Wilmington Pro Doubles, and are now predicted to win their second of the season this weekend.

The top seeds are predicted to meet world No. 3’s and Briggs Cup finalists Manek Mathur & Yvain Badan in Sunday’s final.

Two qualifiers completed the main draw Thursday morning, with main draw play set to begin at 6:30pm local time.

All matches are streaming and scoring live on SDA Live.