Bermuda’s James Stout and Jonathan Larken are the new World Rackets Doubles Champions after they defeated Alex Titchener-Barrett and Christian Portz in a match hosted at the New York Racquet and Tennis Club.
Larken and Stout started in tremendous form, quickly gaining the serve from Stout and surged into a 6-0 lead.
Titchener-Barrett and Portz served all the points, hitting perfect length, with Titchener-Barrett running well to hit clean winners. Larken scored the Challenger's solitary point, but the ATB/Portz partnership relentlessly extended their lead to 9-1. The match then went through a peroid of hands without score, before Stout acrobatically clawed back a point, then Larken another two. Portz responded, but could only manage a point to lead 10-4. Another point apiece from the Challengers gave them hope at 6-10, but they reckoned without the Portz serve.
Stepping up, he reeled off point after point to 14-6, then into a tense rally to close out the game, with ARB's service still in hand. First game to the Champions, 15/6, closing the formidable gap.
The second game saw Portz secure the first three points, a run of eight points in total. Stout failed to score but now Larken was in the box, recovering the points with the help of a rare ATB error to reach 3-all, and then five further points, to match the Portz tally. Suddenly the Challengers were ahead 8-3. ATB and Portz were playing steadily, both scoring two points to close the game score to 7-8. But Larken wasn't finished, supported by Stout's incredible court coverage, he scored a further three points on his next hand to recover the lead to 11-7, although a diving ATB dislodged the Larken serve. Great length from the Portz serve and power from ATB once again saw the score close to 10-11. One further point from the Larken serve, with a silky winner from Stout, saw the score reach 12-10.
Two points apiece saw the Champions reach game point, seeming impossible after Larken's opening service, but they failed to close out the game, with a spectacular Stout winner breaking their hearts. Stout now served superbly at this critical phase to reach 14-all, and send the game into a set to three.
Larken opening their account but then the Champions punched the air as they recovered the serve. But their jubilation was short-lived as neither now scored at this critical stage; Stout didn't waste his opportunity, serving beautifully to close out the set to three, 17/14. With match score at one-all, only one more game was required to change the guard.
Stout was now in dominant form, methodically serving six opening points in the third game, his own eight point run in the match. Leading 6-0, it needed something special to change the match. The next pair of hands saw neither pair score, but the match play was outstanding, with all four players at the top of their game. ATB & Portz inched back to 2-6, but minutes later it was 10-2, as Larken continued to hit perfect length serves. The Challengers were now reading the Portz serve better and it was the fighting ATB who narrowed the gap to 3-10. A point apiece saw the margin increase to 12-3, once again scrambled back to 5-12. Stout then served out the remaining three points without reply, taking the decisive third game 15/5, and with it the World Championship.
As one great World Doubles Champion Pair steps down, another takes their place. James Stout and Jonathan Larken announced their credentials by winning the 2015 British Open Doubles and have risen mercurially since then. They surely will be a tough pair to beat, showing magnificent understanding and teamwork in their quest to the summit.