US SQUASH

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!”

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