US SQUASH

Samper Takes Birthday Spoils With Callis in Tompkins Cup

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(l-r): Mike Ferreira, Yvain Badan, Rob Whitehouse, Chris Callis, Bernardo Samper.

Colombia’s Bernardo Samper earned his second SDA Tour title of the season during the weekend of his thirty-fifth birthday with first-time partner Chris Callis in the Tompkins Cup final Monday night at Racquet Club of Philadelphia.

Samper, who reached the final of the 2015 Tompkins Cup with Baset Chaudhry, went one better after joining forces with Callis. Samper & Callis, the two seeds, got off to a running start with a three-game opening win over Travis Judson & Parth Sharma, but found themselves one game away from elimination in the semifinals when three seeds Imran Khan & Greg Park earned a 2-0 lead. Samper & Callis recovered to reach the final with an emphatic fifth game 11-15, 10-15, 15-9, 15-12, 15-5.

“All credit to Imran and Greg in the semis,” Samper said. “They completely outplayed us in the first two games. We found our length on the third game, which gave us more openings to attack. I knew Chris and I were keeping ourselves mentally tough through the hard rallies and that was going to pay off. There was just a good energy between us.”

In the top half of the draw, one seeds Mike Ferreira & Yvain Badan also needed five games to get past four seeds John Russell & Raj Nanda in the semis, holding off the comeback on simultaneous match ball 15-13, 15-12, 11-15, 11-15, 15-14.

A close final Monday night saw Samper & Callis claim two simultaneous game balls in the first and final fourth game to win the title 15-14, 7-15, 15-10, 15-14.

“The final could’ve been any direction,” Samper said. “We just managed to play better the last rally of each game. Taking the third game was crucial. It was a great final and I respect Yvain and Mikey on and off the court, so for this reason it was my best win so far.”

The Tompkins Cup, which has previously been held biennially as a full ranking event in 2013, 2015, marked its largest prize money fund in 2017 with $25,000.

“Losing in the final in 2015 and coming back this year with a new partner and on my birthday was just very special,” said Samper, who adds the Tompkins title to his 2017 Missouri Athletic Club Open title. “Thank you Chris for hanging in there with me. Hopefully next year I can come back to another final.”

Samper & Callis will enter the next SDA Tour calendar event, the biennial $50,000 Kellner Cup, on different teams, April 20-24.

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