Tag Archives: johnson

First-Time Partners Arnold & Stout Capture First David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Title

(l-r): Cameron Pilley, Scott Arnold, James Stout, Ryan Cuskelly

First-time partners Scott Arnold & James Stout enjoyed immediate success in their first event together, pulling off two dramatic semifinal and final comebacks to win the David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Sunday, March 6, at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn.

Following a brief COVID-induced hiatus, the SDA Pro Tour resumed with one of its most prestigious and historic events—the first SDA event held since November’s Sleepy Hollow Country Club Open.

For the first time in his career, Arnold entered a tournament with the world No. 1 ranking following his Big Apple Open triumph in Manhattan with Manek Mathur against Stout, his new partner in Brooklyn.

After two three-game victories to reach the semifinals, Stout & James prevailed in the match of the tournament in the semifinals against Australian former PSA pros Ryan Cuskelly & Cameron Pilley, who upset four seeds Adam Bews & Clive Leach in the quarterfinals. Arnold & Stout narrowly dropped the first two games 13-15, 14-15, before mounting a comeback to win the two hour and three minute match 15-11, 15-13, 15-9.

“Coming back against Ryan and Cameron, two of the best new players on tour, from 2-0 down was tough physically,” Stout said. “Scott and I knew we had a chance if we were able to control the play, but even then we still needed to get a little lucky. Scott showed his pedigree by stepping up in the fifth game and proving why he is world No. 1.”

In contrast to the two-hour semifinal in the top half of the draw, Sleepy Hollow champions James Bamber & Michael Ferreira advanced to the final after just twenty minutes following an unfortunate Achilles injury sustained by Joshua Hollings.

Arnold & Stout once again found themselves down early in the final as Bamber & Ferreira took the first game 15-6. The top seeds then pulled off yet another comeback to clinch the title 15-12, 15-10, 15-13 after an hour and twenty-seven minutes.

“I think in both matches it was a combo of us starting just a little slow, and the teams we played against playing really well at the beginning of each match,” Arnold said. “Against Cam and Ryan I found we were just struggling to put the ball down early and they were playing really solid while also countering well. Against Mikey and Jim they were both really hot to start the match. Both times we made a couple tactical adjustments that seemed to sway things a little in our favor and in the process gave us a bit more confidence in what we were doing.”

With their first Johnson and SDA title together, Stout celebrates his second consecutive at Heights Casino and first of the season.

“To win back-to-back Johnson titles is incredible and to win with Scott in our first event together was even more special,” Stout said. “It felt great being back on court in a professional tournament, especially in front of one of the loudest, most supportive groups of spectators on the tour. The Heights Casino always makes us feel so welcome and appreciated. A huge thank you to Jim Bamber and the squash committee for putting on such a great event.”

Arnold backs up his new world No. 1 achievement with his first Johnson title and second of the season.

“Obviously it’s always great to win, but for me it’s a first Johnson win, one which I’ve always wanted to get a win in previously,” Arnold said. “This was also the last event we played before all of the chaos, so it’s kind of nice to circle back and have a win here at an event with a ton of history and that is also one of the my favorites to play. It’s also nice to feel like you’re somewhat defending that No. 1 position, even if it’s coming after such a strange and inconsistent time where the rankings perhaps need some time to sort themselves again. After all that’s happened the past two years, and despite some lingering uncertainty, the membership at the Heights Casino dove straight back in to supporting the event and the tour the way they did, and made it feel just like any other Johnson. It was great to be back playing there.”

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.

View tournament photography on the SDA SmugMug page.

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.”

Mudge Extends Remarkable David C. Johnson Winning Streak With Seventeenth Title

(l-r): Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge, Bernardo Samper, Chris Callis

The David C. Johnson Memorial already had significant historical context entering 2018 as the world’s oldest professional squash doubles tournament celebrated its octogenarian anniversary at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn, New York. The weekend concluded with even more historical weight as world No. 1 Damien Mudge extended the sport’s longest winning streak with a seventeenth consecutive title—and second consecutive with partner Manek Mathur.

Mathur & Mudge’s road to the 2018 title proved to be more arduous than their 2017 campaign, in which they didn’t drop a game all tournament. With a full draw of sixteen teams and no first round bye, Americans Alex Domenick & Aaron Luque nicked a game off of the top seeds 15-14 in the third, ultimately falling in four games.

The top seeds comfortably dispatched Raj Nanda & Greg Park in the quarters, and then fended off in-form Jonny Smith & Clive Leach in the semifinals.

The bottom half of the draw saw a dramatic first-round upset when James Stout & Greg McArthur came back from 2-1 down to defeat two seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan in five games. The unseeded pairing continued their main draw push with a quarterfinal victory against Adam Bews & Will Hartigan to reach the partnership’s first career SDA Platinum semifinal.

Stout & McAthur’s run came to an end in the semis, where three seeds Bernardo Samper & Chris Callis advanced to their second final of the season to set up a rematch of the 2017 Big Apple Open final against Mathur & Mudge.

As Samper & Callis did in New York City, the three seeds proved to be difficult opponents for the title favorites losing a close two opening games 12-15, 14-15. Samper & Callis kept their hopes alive taking the third game 15-13, but Mathur & Mudge regained control in the fourth, clinching the title 15-11.

“Bernie and Callis played some of the best squash I have seen them play!” Mudge said. “It took some of our best squash to fend them off. Not only was the quality high, but the camaraderie, respect and sportsmanship was second to none, which made the match that much more enjoyable to play and I would assume to watch.”

“Both of those boys played extremely well,” Mathur added. “They pushed the ball around and create openings well, but more importantly capitalized on those openings and put us under a bunch of pressure. We had to stick with our plan and make sure we countered their attack well, which luckily proved to be positive for us.”

With his streak spans back to 2002, the Australian has won nearly a quarter of the Johnson titles in the tournament’s eighty years. It is the longest title winning streak in squash doubles history. The streak has involved four partners: Gary Waite (2002-2007), Viktor Berg (2008-2010 and 2016), Gould (2011-15) and Mathur (2017-2018).  Waite comes in as the second all-time title holder with ten since the tournament’s inception in 1938.

“I hold this tournament very close to my heart,” Mudge said. “Growing up and playing with all the experienced older guys like Waite, Talbott, etc., they said this was the one to win and I’ve always felt that way myself. I really don’t have the words to describe winning this event seventeen consecutive times. It’s kinda surreal and it also shows how old I am. Just to be a part of this tournament that’s been going for eighty years is just incredible, and I feel privileged just to be involved with the history of the event. There are so many familiar faces over the years and there’s a certain comfort level I feel at the Heights Casino and especially on the court that is difficult to explain.”

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.

“The Heights squash community is second to none,” Mathur said. “They have a stellar junior program but the camaraderie and passion for the game is what truly stands out. What Bobby has done and achieved over there with his doubles program is remarkable, and I look forward to seeing that program grow even further.”

“Big thank you to Bobby Burns, Will Bunn, Emily Lungstrum, John Osnato, Christian Petrina the General Manager for the amazing trophies which he supplies,” Mudge said of the hosts. “They are literally the best trophies I have seen in sport. Congratulations to Christian and his wife who had a child on last Friday. Last but not least my stud partner Manek Mathur! He is such a close friend both on and off the court. The relationship that we have developed is one of the reasons why I play this great game. He is an exceptionally talented player and will have a lot of years to continue the dominance that he deserves.”

Masterclass Mudge Wins Sixteenth Consecutive Johnson Memorial

johnson trophy crop
(l-r) Mike Ferreira, Yvain Badan, Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur

Damien Mudge continued his unprecedented David C. Johnson Memorial record title run with an incredible sixteenth consecutive title—and first with Manek Mathur—this weekend at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn.

In a full sixteen-team draw, Mathur, the world No. 1, and Mudge, world No 2, pulled off a perfect title run with four, three-game victories to claim the iconic bottles of Moet & Chondon champagne.

While Mudge & Mathur stole the headlines, the secondary story of the tournament came in the form of world No. 29 Bobby Burns & world No. 35 James Bamber, whose tournament began on Tuesday in the first of two rounds of qualifying.

After reaching the main draw via a difficult qualifying final against James Stout & Whitten Morris, Burns & Bamber won a five-game first round match against Raj Nanda & Hamed Anvari, before a major upset against three seeds John Russell & Viktor Berg. Two seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan, who narrowly escaped a quarterfinal upset against Imran Khan & Greg Park winning 15-14 in the fifth, eventually ended the young team’s run in a three-game semifinal.

Mudge & Mathur steadily progressed throughout the draw including a quarterfinal against first-time partners Bernardo Samper & Clive Leach and four seeds Jonny Smith & Chris Callis in the semifinals.

The top seeds continued their momentum in the final to win 15-12, 15-8, 15-14.

“It was a pretty strong performance going through the strength and depth of a tourney like that without dropping a game,” Mudge said. ” Number sixteen is pretty crazy to wrap my head around. Hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

Mudge’s record streak spans four partners: Gary Waite (2002-2007), Viktor Berg (2008-2010 and 2016), Gould (2011-15) and now Mathur. Waite comes in as the second all-time title holder with ten since the tournament’s inception in 1938.

“The Johnson has always been such a special event with so much history and a lot of familiar faces in the crowds,” Mudge added. “I just feel privileged to be a part of it. Will Bunn, Emily Lungstrum, Christian, the manager of the Heights, all did a spectacular job from start to finish. Thanks to everyone involved.”

“The tournament was an all round success for us,” Mathur said. “We went in playing well and our performance got better and better as we spent more time out there together. We had some tough matches, but managed to find ways to stay in front and keep the pressure on our opponents.”

Since their season-opening final loss against Ferreira & Badan at the Maryland Club in September, Mathur & Mudge have been undefeated on the season and won all six tournaments they have played in.

“The Heights is one of the most historic and prestigious events on tour,” Mathur added. “The community it has created is second to none and you just get embraced into it. Will Bunn did a tremendous job in organizing the event with the help of Bobby Burns. The guys in the pro-am were extremely excited and enthusiastic to be out there, which makes it fun for us to play in that draw as well.”

With National Doubles slated for this weekend, the tour will have a month off before heading to Philadelphia where Mathur & Mudge will lead the $25,000 Graham Company Cup draw, March 24-26.

“We have another month until our next event so between resting and fixing the bodies to preparing for the next event, we will be pretty busy,” Mathur said. “Looking forward to getting back out there!”

Mudge Wins Unprecedented Fifteenth David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Title

l-r: Viktor Berg, Damien Mudge, Chris Callis, Michael Ferreira.
l-r: Viktor Berg, Damien Mudge, Chris Callis, Michael Ferreira.

David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Draw

Damien Mudge augmented his record as the all-time winningest player of the world’s oldest professional doubles tournament, the David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial, winning an unprecedented fifteenth consecutive title—and fourth with partner Viktor Berg—this weekend at the Heights Casino in Brooklyn.

Mudge & Berg had won three consecutive Johnson titles together from 2008-2010 going into the weekend, and dropped just one game on their way to a fourth title together.

The top seeds eased through two three-game victories in the first two rounds of the tournament, before enduring their toughest test in the semifinals against four seeds Raj Nanda & Clive Leach. After losing the first two games 15-13, 15-8, Nanda & Leach sent the match into four winning the third game 15-14. The fourth stretched to 14-14 once again, but the top seeds pulled out the match 15-14.

The bottom half of the draw saw the tournament’s biggest upset in the form of a dramatic five-gamer that veterans Matt Jenson & Preston Quick pulled out over two seeds Yvain Badan & Manek Mathur, 15-14 in the fifth game.

Jenson & Quick earned an early lead against three seeds Mike Ferreira & Chris Callis in the semifinals, taking the first 15-8. Ferreira & Callis responded to advance to the final 8-15, 15-13, 15-16, 15-14.

The first-time finalists failed to challenge Mudge & Berg in the final, however, as the four-time champions raced to a 15-13, 15-6, 15-6 final victory.

“We are building our team chemistry again from a few years ago,” Mudge said of his partnership with Berg. “It’s a process that is enjoyable to be a part of. Every time we play, we get more and more comfortable with each other and the situations we have to figure out.”

Mudge’s fourth title with Berg adds to five consecutive titles with Ben Gould from 2011-2015, and six consecutive titles with Gary Waite from 2002-2007.

“It is very surreal to win the Johnson fifteen times in a row,” Mudge said. “Especially given the amount of history that is involved with the club and the tournament. Just to be a part of it is special within itself.”

The 2016 title is Berg’s fifth overall, which includes the 2001 title with Michael Pirnak.

“It feels great to win the oldest tournament,” Berg said. “The Heights is one of my favorite tournaments because of the history, the unique court and the general layout of the club.

“One of the keys to our success was our determination. Thank you to everyone involved for making this great tournament!”

The David C. Johnson, Jr. Memorial is the oldest professional squash doubles tournament. 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.