Mathur And Callis Capture MFS Pro-Am Boston Doubles Title  
by Rob Dinerman

Dateline January 12, 2020 – Trailing two games to love and later 9-7 in the fifth game against Michael Ferreira and Will Hartigan, top seeds Manek Mathur and Chris Callis engineered an 8-1 match-closing run, which they then followed up with a competitive but convincing 15-7, 10-15, 15-10, 15-9 final-round victory this afternoon over No. 2 seeds James Stout and Greg McArthur to win the 26th edition on the MFS Pro-Am Boston tournament, held as always at the University Club of Boston. It was the third SDA pro doubles tournament that Mathur and Callis have won in the past seven weeks (preceded by the Sleepy Hollow Open and Briggs Cup), each time at the final-round expense of Stout and McArthur.

   It was an exciting weekend, during which four straight rounds had at least one five-game match. This phenomenon began with the final round of qualifying, in which the Patrick Nku/Tor Christofferson  and Gavan Hitchenor/Cole Osborne pairings earned their way into the main draw by a combined three points. Hitchenor and Osborne eked out a 15-13 fifth-game win over Pat Malloy and Dan Roberts, while Nku and Christofferson had to survive a simultaneous match-ball against Mark Porter and Rafik Bhaloo. The drama continued in the round of 16, during which Will Mariani and Thomas Brinkman edged Clinton Leeuw and Omar El Kashef, 15-12 in the fifth, and Graham Bassett and Hamed Anvari out-lasted qualifiers Lyell Fuller and Tim Lasusa in five games as well.

  Bassett has been in a number of five-game matches at this venue in recent years, including winning two one-pointers (with Ian Power over Shaun Johnstone/Baset Chaudhry in 2014 and with John Roberts over Tyler Hamilton and Rob Nigro two years ago on a mis-hit winner at 14-all). On this weekend he played  his second five-gamer in as many days when he and Anvari led Stout and McArthur two games to one and drew to 10-11 in the fourth game in the closest of the quarterfinal matches. But Stout and McArthur ran off the last four points of that game and asserted themselves in the 15-8 fifth, following which they won their semifinal in three close games over reigning North American Open Doubles champs Robin Clarke and Zac Alexander, four-game quarters winners over Mariani and Brinkman.

   In the top-half semi, Ferreira and Hartigan, who had advanced to that stage with a pair of 3-0 wins over first Christofferson/Patrick and then Adam Bews and James Bamber, were sharper and more aggressive throughout the first two games than Mathur and Callis. Ferreira was boldly going for winners, Hartigan was powerful and error-free, and the No. 1 seeds seemed a bit out of sorts and on their heels. They managed to escape with the 15-13 third game and won the fourth as well, but at 7-all in the fifth, Ferreira nailed a pair of consecutive shallow cross-court nicks that died in front of Callis for 9-7. It is to the credit of the Mathur/Callis duo that, even on a day when they were slightly off their game and under pressure from a strong and upset-seeking opponent, they were still able to grind through the next batch of points and close out the match the way that they did.

   Mathur and Callis were pretty much in control of the final, albeit with a slight interruption in the second game. In both the third and close-out fourth, Stout and McArthur held their ground till about midway through, at which point Mathur and Callis ran off a swift and decisive mid-game spurt (from 5-all to 9-5 in the third game and from 6-all to 12-6 in the fourth) that effectively sealed the outcome. Mathur is a sniper who can pound the ball into the nick from almost any spot on the court and create beautiful angles up front. Callis is relentlessly steady and can shoot the lights out as well. They have acquired quite a head of steam with their trio of consecutive tournaments wins as the tour heads into the important events in Greenwich and Brooklyn that await during the next month and a half.