Tag Archives: nao

Russell & Arnold Join Prestigious Ranks of NAO Champions

(l-r): Anderson Kenny, Garrett Fish, Rodney Eyles, John Russell, Scott Arnold, Yvain Badan, Bernardo Samper, Liam Kenny, Steve Scharff, Paul Vittone, Bart Osman, Morris Clothier, Gray Huffard, Ford Bucknall, Bob Hopkins

World No. 2 John Russell & world No. 5 Scott Arnold added their names to the illustrious ranks of North American Open champions with their first career title Monday, January 27, at Greenwich Country Club in Connecticut.

The NAO dates back to 1931 and unites the vibrant Greenwich squash doubles community with matches held across three venues–Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club. The tournament added an additional $10,000 to the total prize money this year making the NAO the largest annual prize money event on the SDA Pro Tour.

The $60,000 SDA Diamond draw experienced an early shake up as two seeds Manek Mathur & Chris Callis withdrew a day before the main draw due to Callis succumbing to illness and lucky losers Lyell Fuller & Rasmus Hult entering the draw as a result.

The full draw of sixteen teams mostly progressed according to seeding in the early rounds with the biggest upset of the tournament produced by Graham Bassett & Clive Leach–a 2013 NAO champion–who shocked defending champions Robin Clarke & Zac Alexander 15-12, 15-13, 15-10 in the quarterfinals. The result sent Bassett, world No. 22, through to his first career SDA Diamond semifinal.

Yvain Badan–a 2016 NAO champion–& Bernardo Samper nearly exited the tournament in the first round, fighting off four match balls against Clinton Leeuw & Hamed Anvari to win on simultaneous match ball. Badan & Samper regrouped to reach the final without dropping a game in the quarterfinals and a 15-12, 15-9, 15-11 semifinal against Bassett & Leach.

Russell & Arnold’s title run proved to be difficult with four close games against Mike Ferreira & Will Hartigan in the quarterfinals, only to set up a final-caliber semifinal against world No. 6 James Stout & world No. 4 Greg McArthur.

(l-r): Scott Arnold & John Russell

A two-hour semifinal ensued with Russell & Arnold coming back from 2-1 down to record their first win over Stout & McArthur since the 2019 Buffalo final 14-15, 15-14, 13-15, 15-9, 15-11. Monday’s final tested Russell & Arnold’s endurance again as the match extended close to two hours again as the top seeds prevailed over Samper & Badan 14-15, 15-11, 15-12, 15-12.

“Both our semifinal and final were extremely hard fought matches, both lasting nearly two hours,” Russell said. “Hopefully Scott and I can build on this and finish the season off strong.”

The NAO marked Russell & Arnold’s first title together since ending the 2018-2019 season with two titles–the Kellner Cup and Buffalo Club in May. Russell collects his second of the season having won St. Louis with McArthur in November.

“The North American Open is one of the most prestigious events out there,” Russell said. “Its history dates back over 90 years and knowing that our names will be on the wall in gold paint with all the other legends of the game is truly an amazing feeling. Steve Scharff, Rodney Eyles and Liam Kenny ran a fantastic event, I’d like to thank all the patrons for making the event possible, the Greenwich crowd is extremely knowledgeable and appreciative which made for a fun atmosphere to play in.”

 

Clarke & Alexander Battle Through NAO Draw to Win Partnership’s First Title

(l-r): Zac Alexander, Robin Clarke, Greg McArthur, James Stout

In their fourth appearance of the season together, Robin Clarke & Zac Alexander went the distance to their first title, battling through two, 2-hour matches in the semifinals and final of the SDA Diamond North American Open at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club in Connecticut.

Clarke & Alexander’s first major hurdle came in the quarterfinals against three seeds Chris Callis & long-time SDA veteran Matt Jenson, who made a return in Greenwich. Clarke & Alexander squeezed through in three games, winning on simultaneous game balls at 14-all in the first and third games.

Clarke & Alexander had come through at 14-all once again in the semifinals, this time in the fifth game against two seeds Bernardo Samper & Yvain Badan, completing a five-game comeback from 2-1 down.

The top half of the draw saw in-form James Stout & Greg McArthur overcome a four-game first-round test, to reach the final courtesy of three game wins over Clive Leach & Kyle Martino in the quarters, and Will Mariani & James Bamber in the semis.

The final staged a rematch of the Sleepy Hollow quarterfinals, where Stout & McArthur came back from 2-0 down to defeat Clarke & Alexander in five. Clarke & Alexander were up 2-1 with match balls in hand, when Stout & McArthur staged a comeback to force a fifth game on simultaneous game ball. This time in the fifth, Clarke & Alexander came through to clinch their first career title together 15-9, 6-15, 15-4, 14-15, 15-10.

“It could’ve been a very different story if we had have lost that 14-14 in the 5th point against such a tough team in Bernie and Swiss,” Alexander said. “But to back up a 2+ hour match with another 2 hour battle in the final and having match points to close it out in the 4th, it shows our physical and mental strength is there to compete and beat any team and sustain quality throughout a whole event. Even our quarter against Callis and Jenson was tough with 2 games being 15-14 in our favor.”

Both players mark their first time winning the historic North American Open, which dates back to 1931. Alexander celebrates his second title of the season, adding to his Denver Club Open win in the fall, and Clarke collects his first of the season.

“It was a great weekend for Robin and I,” Alexander said. “Our fourth time pairing up and everything clicked. Amazing to capture such a prestigious title like the NAO, especially for me being based in Greenwich over the last several years and even working at Round Hill as an assistant for two of them.”

The tour heads south to Maryland next week for the SDA Gold Baltimore Cup, February 6-10.

Mathur & Mudge Successfully Defend NAO Title

The 2018 NAO final, (l-r): Yvain Badan, Damien Mudge, Mike Ferreira, Manek Mathur

Playing in their first SDA tournament since their Briggs Cup triumph in December, world No. 1’s Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge made a victorious return by successfully defending their SDA Diamond Chilton Investments North American Open title Monday night in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Top-seeded Mathur & Mudge progressed through the full draw of sixteen teams without a significant challenge on their way to the final, notching three, three-game victories.

The same could not be said for two seeds and finalists Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan.  After a second round exit at the 2017 NAO, Ferreira & Badan faced another early exit down 2-1 in the first round against Carl Baglio & Travis Judson. Ferreira & Badan recovered to emphatically close out the fifth 15-5 and progress to the quarters.

Qualifiers Steve Scharff & James Stout nearly pulled off a first-round upset against Bobby Burns & Hamed Anvari, but fell short 12-15 in the fifth.

The draw otherwise played out according to seeding with the top four seeds contesting the semifinals. After Mathur & Mudge dispatched four seeds Clive Leach & James Bamber, Ferreira & Badan sealed their place in the final with a four-game win over three seeds Bernardo Samper & Chris Callis.

In the final, Mathur & Mudge dropped their only game of the tournament in the second, clinching the title 15-8, 13-15, 15-8, 15-11.

“Mike and Swiss played a great final,” Mathur said. “They adjusted well to our game plan, retrieved almost every ball and definitely put the pressure on. I think in the second we didn’t hit our zones which let their attack of the front court come in to play well. I think heading into the third and fourth we took some pace off to control the ball better which helped.”

(l-r) Damien Mudge, Manek Mathur, Morris Clothier, Bart Osman, Yvain Badan, Mike Ferreira

Mathur & Mudge now remain unbeaten this season with their fifth title, and continue their winning streak spanning forty-seven matches.

“Great to be back,” Mathur said. “Lots of adversity with physical and health issues for the two of us, but managed to put things behind us for the weekend and pull through with a positive mindset. Unfortunate to miss a couple events leading up to this one, but I am sure we will play a full January next season.”

The title marks Mathur’s third consecutive, having also won in 2016 with Badan. Mudge’s remarkable NAO title record now extends to his fifteenth having won his first in 2000.

“The NAO is arguably the most prestigious title on the tour so to have our name on it together again is amazing,”Mathur said. “For me especially I started my doubles career at the FCG so it means a lot to be winning this event for the third time.”

The North American Open was first held in 1931. The Greenwich doubles community perennially hosts the event at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club.

“This event has grown and improved year over year,” Mathur said. “We cannot thank Chilton, Lexington Partners and The Delamar hotel enough for all their support. Steve, Liam and Rodney go through a huge amount of work to make their event run smoothly and it shows right from the first ball hit to the last. We both look forward to being back next year.”

View NAO images on the SDA SmugMug page. Watch match replays below.

Mathur & Mudge Storm to Fifth SDA Title of the Season in Greenwich

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As a nor’easter swept through the Connecticut coast Monday night, so too did the Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge storm system as they earned their fifth SDA title of the season—the SDA Platinum Chilton Investments North American Open at the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club.

Mathur, world No. 1, & Mudge, world No. 3, have now won five consecutive titles this season with only one loss together in the final of September’s Maryland Club Open. Mudge, the all-time NAO title holder, augments his record with his fourteenth, while Mathur marks his second consecutive title.

The Mathur & Mudge storm gathered strength after the first two rounds that saw the top seeds drop the first games 15-14 in both the round of sixteen and quarterfinals against qualifiers. In their opener, Mathur & Mudge came back against Cornell alum William Hartigan and former PSA player Clinton Leeuw to reach the quarterfinals. In what was one of just two main draw upsets, qualifiers James Bamber & Robert Burns took out Imran Khan & Greg Park in five games to set up an encounter with the top seeds. In the quarters, the qualifiers nipped the first game 15-14, but Mathur & Mudge recovered to advance to the semifinals in four.

The other major main draw upset came in the bottom half of the draw where Raj Nanda & Clive Leach knocked out two seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan 15-13 in the fifth to reach the semifinals against three seeds John Russell & Viktor Berg, who also endured a five-game quarterfinal against last weekend’s MAC champions Bernardo Samper & Baset Chaudhry. The ensuing semifinal appropriately went the distance with Russell & Berg clinching a spot in the final 15-11 in the fifth.

After the first two rounds, Mathur & Mudge steadied the ship to produce two dominant three-game victories in both the semifinals against four seeds Matt Jenson & Scott Arnold and in the final against Russell & Berg, 15-3, 15-9, 15-8.

“We definitely started off a little rusty, but all credit to those guys for coming out hot and hungry to play,” Mathur said. “Hartigan & Leeuw are great squash players and even better athletes. They did a good job about playing the long points well and keeping the pressure high. Burns & Bamber were feeling good from their win the previous day and came into the match extremely confident hitting the ball and angles well.”

“The first couple of rounds we started off a little slow and those teams played well,” Mudge added. “When the semifinals hit we were very focused and determined to play well.”

As they did in Boston just two weeks ago, Mudge augments his NAO title record with his fourteenth, while Mathur marks his second consecutive title.

“Having fourteen NAO titles is very special and to win with Manek feels amazing,” Mudge said of his record. “I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. I guess it shows how long I’ve been on tour. The NAO is a very special event. I feel lucky just to be involved with the tournament given the history that is associated with it. It’s one of my favorite events of the year.”

The NAO dates back to 1931 with Mudge’s record spanning seventeen years, 2000-2017, and four partners: seven with Gary Waite, two with Viktor Berg, four with Ben Gould and one with Mathur.

“The NAO is a very special event and arguably one of the most prestigious titles to win.,” Mathur said. “I am humbled to have my name on that trophy twice with two different partners and be part of the events rich history. Steve, Liam and Rod did a tremendous job with the organization of the event and taking extremely good care of the pros.”

“The Greenwich/Rye community is where doubles began for me and to win a title at the FCG where my journey began was amazing,” Mathur added. “It’s a first class new facility and I am excited to see that program grow to new heights. I would also like to thank all the patrons, sponsors and pro-am players for making this event a success. Without the support of Lexington Partners, Chilton, Harrow etc. this event would not be possible.”

Mathur & Mudge will sit out the Baltimore Cup before aiming for a sixth title of the season next month in Brooklyn at the David C. Johnson Memorial.

Watch North American Open replays below:

NAO Doubles and Greenwich Invitational Singles Streaming Live From Connecticut

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The 2017 Chilton Investments North American Open and Harrow Greenwich Invitational singles are streaming live from the Field Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Country Club and Round Hill Club this weekend in Connecticut.

The SDA Platinum NAO doubles, dating back to 1931, features a full draw of sixteen teams, including four qualifying draws that will play out Thursday evening and Friday morning. The main draw matches will be the first to stream live Friday afternoon.

Recent MFS Pro-Am Boston champions Manek Mathur & Damien Mudge lead the main draw as the top seeds and are predicted to face Australian four seeds Matt Jenson & Scott Arnold in the semifinals. Mathur is slated for a showdown against his 2016 title-winning partner Yvain Badan in the final, who enters the draw as the two seed with fellow Trinity Bantam Mike Ferreira.

For the third year, the Harrow Greenwich Invitational singles men’s and women’s invitationals will be contested alongside the NAO doubles with select matches streaming live.

Tournament proceeds and donations support the North American Open/Greenwich Invitational Scholarship Fund in partnership with US Squash, which provides financial assistance to participants in urban squash programs, as they elect to attend private secondary schools or college. To donate, visit the NAO/GO Fund page.

To watch the live stream, follow live scores and for more information visit www.naosquashdoubles.com.