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Mathur Makes Victorious Return From Tour With Callis in Maryland Club Season Opener

(l-r): Andrew Cordova, John Porter, Martin Knott, Robb Merritt, Mark Price, Manek Mathur, Sage Platt, Chris Callis, JD Wells, John Russell, Scott Arnold, Hugh McGuirk, Chris Haley

Nearly one year after rupturing his Achilles while playing with Chris Callis, former world No. 1 Manek Mathur made a victorious return to the SDA Pro Tour with Callis by capturing the season-opening Maryland Club Open title, Monday, September 30, in Baltimore.

The $50,000 diamond draw was reflective of the parity that formed over the course of last season in the vacuum of Mathur, who had gone undefeated with the now retired Damien Mudge two seasons ago. James Stout & Greg McArthur, who won three titles last season, led the draw as top seeds, opposed by world No. 1 John Russell & Scott Arnold as the two seeds. Callis, then ranked No. 2, and Mathur, No. 12, entered the top half of the draw as the four seeds.

Mathur & Callis dropped their opening games in both their first and second round matches before getting up to speed and winning both matches in four games. The quartefinals played out according to seeding despite a close slate of matches that were all decided in either four or five games.

Both of Sunday’s semifinals took an unfortunate turn in the second game of each match. First, McArthur picked up a wrist injury forcing a retirement that sent Mathur & Callis into the final. Then Bernardo Samper sustained a hamstring injury in the second semifinal, causing another retirement and sending Russell & Arnold through to the final.

In the final, Mathur & Callis held off a comeback from Russell & Arnold to claim the first title of the season 15-10, 15-9, 12-15, 15-11.

Both Mathur & Callis were pleased with improved form as the tournament progressed–particularly Mathur having spent so long off court–and were happy to be back on court together.

“We were a bit rusty to start, not to take anything away from our initial round opponents who played lights out, but it was fun to watch our progress through the weekend,” Mathur said. “The injury layoff was something I personally expected to be harder on the legs, but seeing the ball at that speed and pace, was the biggest thing to readjust to. Being on court with Chris has always been a treat. We go back so many years competing against each other, that battling on the same team is a ton of fun. We have a good off court relationship which transfers pretty seamlessly to the on court game.”

“I think we were both so excited to get back out there that it translated to us being a little too amped on court,” Callis said. “Each round we got a little more comfortable out there and by the finals it felt like the game had slowed down massively versus the first match. We knew from last year that we had good quality doubles in us and we were really happy to find it in our first event back together.”

The result sends Callis back atop the world rankings in October, marking the second time the Princeton graduate has reached the tour’s top ranking in the past year. Callis was more focused on the successful return of Mathur, however.

“The amount of work Manek put in to get to this point in just eleven months is just incredible–nobody deserved this win more than he did, so I’m glad we could get it done,” Callis said. “Having him back in these draws is great for the sport of doubles and really raises the bar for all of us in the tournament.”

On Friday night, the Maryland Club Open was recognized for being named the 2018 SDA Tournament of the year as voted by the players. The board tenures for outgoing members and SDA players Mike Ferreira and Peter Kelly were also celebrated.

(l-r): Mike Ferreira, Maryland Club Director of Squash Andrew Cordova, Peter Kelly

The Maryland Club Open, now four times voted SDA Tournament of the year, heralded in the new SDA Pro Tour season in front of one of the country’s most passionate hotbeds of squash doubles.

“The Maryland Club is such a doubles enthusiastic club that the energy around the event is electric,” Mathur said. “It lifts all of us up and gets us excited for the season. Andrew Cordova goes out of his way to make the event a success and the membership treats the entire tour like family and opens all their doors to us. With the only club in America to have three doubles courts, it definitely fits the mould for the first event of the season!”

“The enthusiasm around doubles at the Maryland Club is truly second to none,” Callis said. “The members really love the sport and put so much energy into the game–it’s always a blast to play in front of a packed crowd that really knows their doubles.”

The tour resumes later this month with the Big Apple Open, October 25-28.

 

 

Mathur & Callis Clinch Season-Opener at Expanded Maryland Club

Manek Mathur & Chris Callis opened the 2018-2019 SDA season with a dominant display in Baltimore, clinching the SDA Diamond Maryland Club Open title Monday night.

Mathur, world No. 1, had been forced to shuffle partners this season due to an injury keeping Damien Mudge off court—his partner for the past two seasons. Mathur rekindled his 2015 Big Apple Open finalist partnership with Chris Callis, Princeton graduate and 2016 SDA rookie of the year. Callis stepped into Mudge’s role on the right wall as Mathur & Callis led the draw as top seeds.

Mathur & Callis blew past Peter Kelly & Joshua Schwartz 15-5, 15-8, 15-7 in the first round, and put in another strong performance in the quarterfinals against Mike Ferreira & Whitten Morris, 15-9, 15-3, 15-3.

Commonwealth Games doubles gold medalist Zac Alexander & Robin Clark upset the seedings in the quarterfinals, defeating England’s Clive Leach & James Bamber 15-14, 15-4, 15-5 to set up a semifinal against the top seeds. Mathur & Callis proved to be too much for Alexander & Clarke in the semis with the top seeds once again progressing to the final in three games.

2018 Buffalo Pro Doubles champions James Stout & Greg McArthur claimed the biggest upset in the bottom half of the draw. Two seeds John Russell & Yvain Badan had come back from 2-0 down to win their quarterfinal match up in five games against Raj Nanda & Greg Park. The two seeds found themselves 2-0 down once again in the semis against Stout & McArthur and appeared to be on the brink of another come back by winning the third and holding a simultaneous game/match ball at 14-all in the fourth. Stout & McArthur claimed the pivotal point to take the match 15-14 in the fourth.

Mathur & Callis continued their strong form into the final against Stout & McArthur, dropping just five points in the first and third games to claim the title in three. The title marks the largest of Callis’ SDA career and Mathur’s first at the Maryland Club.

“It was a treat to be out there with Chris,” Mathur said. “We go so far back that our friendship and understanding showed through with our on court communication, which was a massive plus. When you have someone new to play doubles with, no matter who they are or how good, the meshing aspect can be tricky. I think we understood each other’s strengths and weaknesses to a T.”

The Maryland Club Open event returns to the SDA Tour with its highest prize money to date following a brief hiatus last season. The club underwent renovations that added a third hardball doubles court—the only club in the United States with three courts.

“The Maryland Club is a special place,” Mathur said. “They’ve got some of the best members and now the best squash doubles facility in the world. It was a treat to be a part of their event and history and I am already counting down the days to their next event. Andrew Cordova is a class act. What he does for the game and the sport is unparalleled and consistently pushes us pros to raise the bar at our home clubs. Can’t thank the club, membership and the staff enough for treating us like family all through the weekend.”

New Partnership Ferreira & Badan Win SDA Season Opener at Maryland Club

L-R: Andrew Cordova, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira, Hugh McGuirk, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge.
L-R: Andrew Cordova, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira, Hugh McGuirk, Manek Mathur, Damien Mudge.

The 2016-2017 SDA Pro Tour season has revealed new partnerships in the season-opening Maryland Club Open, including champions and first-time partners Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan.

The trinity graduates entered the draw seeded second with world No. 2 Damien Mudge forging a new partnership on the right wall with Badan’s former partner on the left wall, world No. 3 Manek Mathur, to top the draw as the one seeds.

The top half of the draw also saw the return of Baset Chaudhry to the tour. The Pakistani, who once cracked the top ten rankings two seasons ago, teamed up with Colombian and fellow Bantam Bernardo Samper in qualifying. A semifinal run ensued with Chaudhry & Samper taking out Andres Vargas & Hamed Anvari in the first round, then upsetting four seeds and England’s world doubles champions John Russell & Clive Leach in a four-game quarterfinal. Mathur & Mudge then continued their partnership’s strong start with a second three-game victory in the semis over Chaudhry & Samper.

The eventual champions endured a more difficult road to the final including a five-gamer in the semis against three seeds Viktor Berg & Raj Nanda, winning 15-11 in the fifth after squandering a 2-0 lead.

“I think we competed well together under pressure this weekend—tough semi which we managed to pull out in five and obviously a very tough final,” Ferreira said. “Mathur & Mudge are the team to beat this season and heading into the final alone to play against them was an accomplishment.”

In Sunday’s final, Ferreira & Badan edged out a five gamer 13-15, 15-14, 15-13, 11-15, 15-13.

“I think our goal was to play a tough and consistent game against them,” Ferreira said of the final. “There are not too many weaknesses on that team—so being able to stay with them and not give them too much of a lead gave us an opportunity to make a run at some of the big points.”

A potential final rematch between the two new power partnerships could be in store at the Big Apple Open later this month.

“Great start to the season but early days as well,” Ferreira said. “Looking forward to continuing to be able to compete with Yvain in some of the other great locations/events that we have coming up this season. Thank you to Andrew Cordova and the Maryland Club for hosting such an outstanding event!”

View all results on the SDA Maryland Club Open page.

Mudge & Gould Avenge Worlds Loss To Win Maryland Club Open

Tournament organizers with champions Damien Mudge & Ben Gould (L) and finalists Clive Leach & John Russell.
L-R: Damien Mudge, Ben Gould, Hugh McGuirk, Andrew Cordova, Stewart Shettle, Clive Leach, John Russell.

Maryland Club Open Draw

SDA Live

Australian world No. 1’s Damien Mudge & Ben Gould emphatically avenged their World Doubles final loss in May by defeating England’s John Russell & Clive Leach in a three-game Maryland Club Open final Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.

All matches are available for replay on SDA live.

Mudge & Gould began their 2015-2016 season by losing their first game 15-10 against Imran Khan & Raj Nanda in the quarterfinals, which would be the only dropped game of their title run.

The five-time defending champions then dispatched SDA rookies of the year Robin Clark & Scott Arnold in the semifinals Saturday evening. Clark & Arnold made a strong first impression for the new season by defeating Philadelphia’s Ed Garno & Alex Stait in the first round, then upsetting fourth-seeded Trinity graduate duo Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan in a four-game quarterfinal.

World Doubles champions Russell & Leach made a seamless run to the final with two, three-game victories, including over new partnership Michael Ferreira & Chris Callis in the semifinals. Callis collected the Most Improved Player award Saturday night having risen to world No. 17 from world No. 33, and enjoyed a successful start to the season with his new partner, Ferreira.

Ferreira & Callis knocked out tour veterans Matt Jenson & Preston Quick in the first round, then upset three seeds and Ferreira’s primary partner from last season, Jonny Smith with Greg Park, in a four-game quarterfinal.

In the semifinals, Russell & Leach capitalized on two simultaneous game balls in the first the third games, to defeat Ferreira & Callis in three and reach the final.

Last may in Chicago, Russell & Leach upset Mudge & Gould in a five-game World Doubles final to win England the title in the season-ending tournament. After a five-month break, Mudge & Gould returned refocused to win their sixth consecutive Maryland Club Open title 15-10, 15-9, 15-9.

“I wasn’t thinking about May, I was focused on what we needed to do to win today,” Gould said. “Damien & I talked through a strategy we thought would see us through. It was a shift from our normal gameplay & we thought we may risk losing a game—or even two—but believed if we kept to it, no matter what was happening, we would prevail over the course of the match.”

After winning eight titles last season and boasting a league-best 28-3 record, Gould is pleased to start the new season with the $40,000 title.

“Even if you feel prepared, the first event of the season is always tough,” Gould continued. “Nothing can compare to competitive match play so to get a win under our belt after five months off tour is an immense and immediate confidence builder.”

Saturday’s inaugural SDA awards honored Andrew Cordova and the Maryland Club Open as the Tournament of the Year.

“Andrew Cordova has always run a first class event,” Gould said. “The title is well deserved. He has been an integral ambassador for our sport and tour, far beyond the walls of the Maryland Club. We thank him for his ongoing passion!”

The 2015-2016 SDA tour resumes October 23-25 with the $20,000 Missouri Athletic Club Open in St. Louis.

Maryland Club Open, Mudge & Gould, Russell Headline Inaugural SDA Awards

The 2014-2015 SDA Award winners L-R: Andrew Cordova (Maryland Club Open),
The 2014-2015 SDA Award winners L-R: Andrew Cordova (Maryland Club Open), Damien Mudge & Ben Gould, Robin Clarke & Scott Arnold, Jonny Smith, Chris Callis, and John Russell.

The inaugural SDA award winners were revealed during the first event of the SDA Pro Tour’s fourth season—the 2015 Maryland Club Open.

The awards were voted on by the tour professionals and presented during an on-court ceremony in between semifinals Saturday night.

Andrew Cordova, Maryland Club Open tournament director and one of the founders of the SDA tour four years ago, accepted the Tournament of the Year award on behalf of the Maryland Club in front of a standing ovation from the packed gallery.

“Selfishly speaking, it’s a great honor to be on court with these players tonight,” said Cordova during his acceptance speech. “I’ll remember this forever, it’s a great honor that we’re all receiving something on the same night. I’m the only non-player, but I don’t care, it’s going in the books. Thank you very much, they’re all really well deserved so congratulations to everyone.

“This is very much a team award. Everyone in this gallery has contributed to the event every year. Without the support of everyone here at the club, we couldn’t make a greater tournament year to year to constantly create, make new things happen—from the video to the site—everything has been a progression over time. Thank you for empowering me, and all of us working together as a team. This is for all of us.”

Perennial world No. 1’s Damien Mudge & Ben Gould received the team of the year award based on their eight titles and 28-3 record in 2014-2015. John Russell received player of the year after winning the Word title and Big Apple Open last year with partner Clive Leach.

Canadians Robin Clark & Scott Arnold earned Rookies of the Year following their debut third-place finish at the Bentley in Toronto, and their maiden title at the Pittsburgh Challenger.

Jonny Smith was voted for the Sportsmanship Award for his exemplary demeanor, and Maryland Club semifinalist Chris Callis earned the Most Improved Player award after improving his world ranking to world No. 17 from world No. 33.

2014-2015 SDA Awards:
Tournament of the Year: 
Maryland Club Open
Team of the Year: Damien Mudge & Ben Gould
Player of the Year: John Russell
Rookies of the Year: Robin Clark & Scott Arnold
Sportsmanship Award: Jonny Smith
Most Improved Award: Chris Callis