Championship Sunday at the 2023 APP Sunmed St. Louis Open was one for the history books, as four APP pros earned their first gold medals of the season in front of a capacity crowd at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center, in the heart of St. Louis’ Forest Park.
Megan Fudge added her first APP gold medal of the season with a win in women’s pro doubles, while Dominique Schaefer, CJ Klinger, and Andre Mick won their first career APP gold medals. Fudge’s doubles partner, Susannah Barr, finished with two gold medals on the day - including a mixed pro doubles title with Andrei Daescu - while Hunter Johnson added another singles title to his 2023 accolades.
For many APP fans, the highlight of the day was seeing Fudge win her first gold medal of the season. Sunday concluded with women’s pro doubles as Fudge and Barr - known affectionately as Team Fudge-Barr - faced off against Bobbi Oshiro and Milan Rane. After battling hard on Championship Sunday all year long, Fudge broke through and earned her first APP gold medal of the year, as she and Barr won 11-4, 11-4.
“Our chemistry and constantly going over our gameplan let us get over the hump. It’s been such a fun journey and I’ve really enjoyed doing it together with Susannah. It’s been an amazing week in St. Louis and a fantastic atmosphere, I got to meet a lot of amazing people – thank you for all the support.”
“We had a lot of consistency today, and we also had a bunch of fans supporting us today – thank you St. Louis for coming out,” added Barr. “Kudos to Bobbi [Oshiro] and Milly [Rane] – they played amazing, and it was really great to face them. Winning gold obviously means a lot – I’ve been working all year to get here and now we’ll just keep going forward.”
Allison Harris and Mari Humberg fought through a deep women’s doubles field to earn bronze medals on Saturday - marking Harris’ second medal of the season and Humberg’s first.
Schaefer, 24, upset the top-seeded Salome Devidze in her first Championship Sunday appearance, and did so in convincing fashion. The La Quinta, California native came out firing - rolling past Devidze 11-0 in game one and taking game two 11-4 to set up the tiebreaker match. A back-and-forth affair followed, but Schaefer’s momentum was too much to overcome as she won 15-11 to earn her first career APP gold medal.
“I’m glad I could get the win - it’s so fun to be on Championship Court,” Schaefer said following the match. “I try not to put any pressure on myself. My shots worked today and I got lucky on a few. I trusted my shots and just went for it, and it worked out. Salome is an amazing player, and I hope to see her many more times on Championship Court.”
Devidze’s silver was her second of the season, and on Thursday Jess Warren battled hard to earn her second bronze medal this year.
Men’s pro singles kicked off Championship Sunday, pitting the defending champion Johnson against Jhonnatan Medina Alvarez. Johnson started strong, taking game one 11-5, before Medina Alvarez responded with an 11-6 win in game two. The deciding game three was all Johnson - winning 11-3 to retain his title and earn his seventh gold medal and add another medal to his APP Tour-leading total of 17. On Thursday, Chris Haworth shook off an early loss and won six back-draw matches - including wins over Yates Johnson and Jack Foster - to earn bronze, his first APP medal of the season.
“It was a great match,” said Johnson. “We went three games – he made me work for it – and I’m just happy to come out with the win. Trusting my shots and staying emotionally neutral was the key. I missed a couple of shots, regrouped, refocused, changed the game plan a little bit, and went out and executed. Any game in the win column is a good feeling, and I’m looking to keep the momentum going.”
The action continued with mixed pro doubles, with Barr and Daescu taking on defending champions Todd and Johnson, who advanced via the back draw. Todd and Johnson took game one easily, 11-3, but could not carry the momentum into game two as Barr and Daescu responded with an 11-5 victory. The Barr and Daescu duo kept it rolling in game three, winning 11-3 to claim their third gold medals as a team in 2023.
“I always enjoy playing with Susannah,” said Daescu, after earning his 11th gold medal of the season. “The chemistry is there, we both know how challenging it is to play competitors like Hunter and Parris, so it means the world to me to be able to get a third gold medal with Susannah. Our partnership keeps getting better and better – the competition is great, so hopefully we can get a few more. Big thank you to the crowd for coming out this week in St. Louis.”
“Our communication keeps getting better and better,” added Barr, who now has five APP gold medals in 2023. “I’m actually having to talk less, because we just know each other and know what we’re doing. We really enjoy playing on the court together – Andrei’s energy is always so positive and he really keeps me going.”
Oshiro and Brendon Long teamed up to earn mixed pro doubles bronze medals on Friday.
The men’s pro doubles gold medal match featured the upstart duo of Mick and Klinger against the top-seeded Daescu and Nunnery, who earned their way through the back draw. No stranger to Championship Sunday, Daescu and Nunnery relied on experience and jumped out to an 11-5 win in game one, followed by an 11-8 victory in game two to set up the deciding tiebreaker match. Mick and Klinger dug deep and emerged victorious, 15-12, to complete the upset and earn their first APP gold medals of the season.
“Winning my first gold means a lot,” Klinger said. “I’ve been working hard on my game over the last couple years, and it’s showing up. Andre and I met two years ago – I didn’t really know him then, and he wasn’t very good. But he’s gotten a lot better, he’s such a good player right now, it’s insane.”
“We’ve been playing together for a while now,” added Mick. “CJ was one of the first kids I knew and he used to beat up on me a lot when I was first coming into the sport, so it’s great to partner up with him now and win gold.”
APP Next Gen National Team member Jack Foster and former tennis pro Martin Emmrich earned bronze medals in a talented men’s pro doubles field on Saturday.
In AARP Champions Division (50+) action at the 2023 APP Sunmed St. Louis Open, Altaf Merchant and Chris Bohnert defeated Marty Engel and Marcel Borcean to win men's doubles gold.
The APP returns to action August 23-27 for the APP Philadelphia Open. To stay updated on the APP, visit theapp.global, follow on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, Threads, and LinkedIn.