Champion after epic win
Nick Matthew is the new National Champion. He won a pulsating final against
the titleholder Lee Beachill that fluctuated wildly and was in doubt until
the final ball.
authoritatively and hunting down every opportunity to apply pressure on the
volley grabbed enough possession of the T to set up the opportunities to
attack in the first game. Beachill however led 9-8 but having survived a
gruelling 83 minute semi-final against James Willstrop he had to ration his
energy resources carefully and look to finish the rallies when chances
arose. Two marginal errors at the end of the game as he sort to find those
winning shots early gave the advantage to his opponent, who had the benefit
of the early bounciness of the ball. Matthew took opening game 11-9.
The structure of Matthew's
played fell apart in the second as he sort to push home his advantage and
Beachill scored seven points in a hand, largely on his opponent's errors, to
Beachill fell behind 6-0 at
the start of the third, his concentration distracted in a minor mix-up, but
saved four game balls before luck deserted him on a clinging ball he could
only scrap of the wall to concede a stroke.
Beachill started the fourth
with more urgency, blending lobs, pressure and shots superbly to go 6-3 up,
but fell into error to lose the advantage and just came out on top in a mad
point for point struggle in engrossing rallies of brilliant shots and
desperate retrieving to level 12-10.
In the fifth both players were
tired but the retrieving was at times unbelievable, the shots cut-throat and
incisive. A stunning nick off service had turned the fourth Beachill's way
and again his struck with it to take the initiative. A brutal rally, in
which he just hung on and lobbed and scrapped cost him deadly was Matthew
the torturer worked him all over the court. Vital last reserves were spent
as Matthew won 6-7 with an outstanding forehand drop. A stunning nick of
serve gave Beachill the advantage again and he won through to
matchball 10-6. The title seemed his again.
Matthew however was not
finished. A miss hit helped him, a stroke, an all or nothing drop. The balls
rolled down the ball and where smashed away on the volley. Openings were
desperately sort. Matthew came back to 9-10 as Beachill was spent, bent
double. A brilliant forehand volley drop, that Beachill disputed but failed
to clear saved the challenger his fourth matchball, a tin was clipped and a
volley boast just spun out of Beachill's reach.
Beachill had been so close to
a fourth title but Matthew was the new champion with a 11-9, 6-11, 11-9,
10-12, 12-10 win over 105 minutes.
Bailey back from the Wilderness
Tania Bailey, the former world
no.4, who has been in the wilderness for 3 years recovering from a viral
illness that has plagued her career, bounced back to win the National title
in Manchester. In the final she beat the titleholder Linda Elriani 9-7, 6-9,
9-6, 9-3 over 76 minutes.
It was a close fought contest
with Bailey taking the first 9-7 and surging ahead 6-0 in the second but as
the ball cooled Elriani with her fine lobs and high clinging drives kept the
ball out of her opponent's reach and with some fine shots came back in three
hands to level the game scores 10-8.
The third game was pivotal.
Elriani went ahead 6-3 but a series of errors let Bailey level in a hand.
She is a strong player and chased her opponent's shots down impressively.
Tactically she has developed a new maturity and did not flinch as Elriani's
lobs rained down on her. An error forced with a clinging ball and two
winners gave her a sudden breakthrough in the long battle and she took the
In the fourth she was away to
5-0 promptly and now had the confidence to deal more severely with Elriani
as the challenge faded.
Tickets for the National
Squash Championships are available from TicketMaster on 0870-602
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Sun 05 Feb
Mon 06 Feb
1200 2nd and
final qualifying rounds
Tue 07 Feb
1200 Men’s 1st
1200 Women’s 2nd
and final qualifying rounds
Wed 08 Feb
1200 Men’s 2nd
1200 Women’s 1st
Thu 09 Feb
1800 Men’s Quarter-finals
1800 Women’s Quarter-finals
Fri 10 Feb
1800 Men’s Quarter-finals
1800 Women’s Quarter-finals
Sat 11 Feb
1300 Men’s Semi-finals
1300 Women’s Semi-finals
Sun 12 Feb
1500 Women’s Final
1700 Men’s Final
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|crilliant recovery to save four
matchballs at end of epic match gives Matthew National title.
Peter Nicol goes out to Matthew in semi-final.
Beachill is thrilled to survive in semi-final and
against Willstrop to make his sixth final.
Top seed Willstrop goes out in semi-final.
World Team Champions reunited for the
first time since Nicol,
Willstrop, Beachill and Matthew won the World Team
Championships title for England in Pakistan in December
Top seed in the women's event Vicky Botwright
withdraws with Injured Ankle
British Nationals 2006
February as 14th seed Alister Walker withdraws making way for Daryl Selby
 James Willstrop
11/6, 11/7, 11/9(30m)
11-10 (2-0), 11-5, 11-1 (34m)
11-5, 8-11, 3-11, 11-5, 11-8.
11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10
11/6, 11/8, 11/7 (31m)
11/10(2-0), 11/3, 11/3 (30m)
[Q] Shawn Le Roux
11-5, 11-0, 9-11, 4-11, 11-9 (85m)
11/9, 11/4, 3/11, 11/8 (44m)
[Q] Chris Simpson
 Lee Beachill
11/2, 11/0 rtd (11m)
5-11, 11-4, 11-0, 11-5 (39m)
11-9, 11-6, 11-5
 Nick Taylor
8/11, 11/8, 8/11, 11/6, 11/9 (62m)
 Adrian Grant
11/3, 11/6, 11/2 36m)
11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 11-2 (62m)
11/5, 11/7, 11/ (31m)
[LL] Jaymie Haycocks
11/5, 11/13, 11/2, 11/7 (36m)
11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (32m)
14-12, 11-4, 11-3
11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9
11/5, 11/7, 11/9 (45m)
[Q] Joel Hinds
11/7, 11/8, 8/11, 11/6 (52m)
[Q] Tom Richards
10-11 (2-4), 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (66m)
11/1, 11/5, 11/4 (25m)
[Q] Martin Gibson
8/11, 11/9, 11/8, 11/8 (50m)
 Ben Garner
7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (51m)
11-9, 11-5, 11-7
 Pete Barker
11/1, 11/8, 11/8(38m)
12/10, 11/5, 11/7, 11/4 (58m)
[Q] Kristen Johnson
11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (36m)
 Peter Nicol
10/12, 11/5, 11/6, 11/6 (44m)
[Q] Ben Ford
David Barnett (Northumbria)
bt Jaymie Haycocks (Shropshire) 10-11 (3-5), 11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4 (57m)
Kristen Johnson (Scotland)
bt Nick Wall (Yorks) 11-3, 11-3, 11-4 (27m)
Chris Simpson (Hants) bt Tom
Pashley (Sussex) 11-3, 11-7, 11-8 (36m)
Joel Hinds (Derbyshire) bt
Phil Rushworth (Yorks) 11-7, 11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (5-3) (53m)
Tom Richards (Surrey) bt
Jonathan Tate (Northumbria) 11-4, 11-5, 6-11, 11-8 (39m)
Ben Ford (Kent) bt Jethro
Binns (Wales) 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (38m)
Martin Gibson (Lincs) bt
Jonathan Harford (Glos) 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (32m)
Shaun le Roux (Yorks) bt Sam
Miller (Warwicks) 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 10-5 ret. (52m)
David Barnett (Northumbria)
bt Thomas Phipps (Bucks) 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (29m)
Jaymie Haycocks (Shropshire)
bt Kris Meadows (Suffolk) 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 (22m)
Nick Wall (Yorks) bt Stephen
Siviter (Merseyside) 11-5, 11-8, 10-11 (1-3), 11-8 (37m)
Kristen Johnson (Scotland)
bt Philip Nightingale (Surrey) 10-11 (0-2), 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (49m)
Chris Simpson (Hants) bt
James Snell (Devon) 11-6, 4-11, 11-3, 11-4 (40m)
Tom Pashley (Sussex) bt Asa
Morris (Cambs) 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 (27m)
Phil Rushworth (Yorks) bt
Nick Douglas (Notts) w/o
Joel Hinds (Derbyshire) bt
Nicholas Bradley (Warwicks) 11-10 (2-0), 11-9, 11-4 (28m)
Jonathan Tate (Northumbria)
bt Adrian Waller (Herts) 7-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (77m)
Tom Richards (Surrey) bt
Michael Waight (Cheshire) 11-10 (4-2), 11-3, 11-3 (21m)
Jethro Binns (Wales) bt
Michael Pearson (Lancs) 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (29m)
Ben Ford (Kent) bt Joe Lee
(Surrey) 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (40m)
Martin Gibson (Lincs) bt
Oliver Clay (Leics) 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9 (39m)
Jonathan Harford (Glos) bt
Christopher Hall (Surrey) 11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 6-11, 11-7 (69m)
Shaun le Roux (Yorks) bt
Will Newnham (Sussex) 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (27m)
Sam Miller (Warwicks) bt
Lewis Walters (Notts) 11-7, 11-2, 11-5 (29m)
Thomas Phipps (Bucks) bt
Edward Charlton (Notts) 11-7, 11-10 (2-0), 11-6 (30m)
Kris Meadows (Suffolk) bt
Will Hoy (Essex) 11-5, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6 (32m)
Stephen Siviter (Merseyside)
bt Chris Clarke (Lancs) 11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (21m)
Kristen Johnson (Scotland)
bt Chris Truswell (Staffs) 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (35m)
Philip Nightingale (Surrey)
bt James Earles (Yorks) 11-5, 11-4, 11-2 (21m)
James Snell (Devon) bt Chris
Tasker-Grindley (Glos) 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (37m)
Tom Pashley (Sussex) bt
Stuart Crawford (Scotland) 7-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6 (53m)
Asa Morris (Cambs) bt Andrew
Cross (Durham) 9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 (42m)
Phil Rushworth (Yorks) bt
Nathan Langley (Cheshire) 11-10 (2-0), 11-6, 11-6 (37m)
Joel Hinds (Derbyshire) bt
Jamie Matthews (Surrey) 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (18m)
Nicholas Bradley (Warwicks)
bt Neil Desai (Surrey) 11-3, 11-10 (3-1), 11-7 (27m)
Adrian Waller (Herts) bt
Luke Vaggars (Cornwall) 11-6, 11-5, 11-8 (24m)
Jonathan Tate (Northumbria)
bt Rory Pennell (Essex) 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (28m)
Michael Waight (Cheshire) bt
Nick Murrills (Cheshire) 11-10 (2-0), 8-11, 11-7, 11-10 (2-0) (43m)
Michael Pearson (Lancs) bt
Alex Phillips (Hants) 11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (26m)
Joe Lee (Surrey) bt Oliver
Pett (Sussex) 11-2, 11-10 (4-2), 11-10 (2-0) (36m)
Oliver Clay (Leics) bt Tom
Power (Bucks) 11-8, 11-8, 11-10 (2-0) (30m)
Martin Gibson (Lincs) bt
Adam Murrills (Cheshire) 11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (2-0), 3-11, 11-10 (2-0)
Christopher Hall (Surrey) bt
Jim Bristow (Devon) 11-5, 11-3, 11-4 (39m)
Will Newnham (Sussex) bt
Paul Rawden (Surrey) 11-10 (2-0), 11-4, 11-10 (2-0) (28m)
Shaun le Roux (Yorks) bt
Geoff Taylor (Cheshire) 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (23m
British Nationals 2006
February as top seed Vicky Botwright withdraws with a foot injury
 Tania Bailey
9-1, 9-2, 9-1 (30m)
9-1, 9-0, 9-0 (22m)
9-2, 9-0, 7-9, 9-6
10-8, 1-9, 9-2, 9-6
 Becky Botwright
9-4, 2-9, 9-5, 10-9 (50m)
[Q] Georgina Stoker
9-0, 9-0, 9-4 (19m)
[Q] Lauren Siddall
9-5, 9-5, 10-8
 Dominique Lloyd-Walter
9-0, 9-1, 9-4 (25m)
 Stephanie Brind
9-6, 9-4, 9-7 (36m)
9-7, 9-1, 2-9, 9-7
8-10, 9-1, 2-9, 6-9
 Jenny Duncalf
9-4, 9-3, 9-3 (29m)
 Laura-Jane Lengthorn
9-5, 9-0, 9-6 (25m)
[Q] Kirsty McPhee
9-3, 9-5, 4-9, 9-4
 Linda Elriani
9-2, 9-0, 9-4 (27m)
[Q] Laura Mylotte
Laura Mylotte bt Amina Helal 3/9, 8/10, 9/3, 9/6, 10/9 (57m)
Kirsty McPhee bt Rachel Willmott 9/5, 9/0, 9/0 (19m)
Georgina Stoker bt Deon Saffery 9/5, 6/9, 7/9, 10/9, 9/5 (64m)
Lauren Siddall bt Jenny Wright 9/7, 9/4, 9/0 (36m)
Qualifying round two:
Laura Mylotte bt Susannah King 9/2, 9/0, 9/7 (24m)
Amina Helal bt Fiona Moverley 7/9, 9/7, 9/1, 9/0 (44m)
Kirsty McPhee bt Leonie Holt 9/0, 9/7, 6/9, 10/9 (45m)
Rachel Willmott by Emma Chorley 9/3, 10/9, 9/0 (34m)
Deon Saffery bt Tina Rix 10/8, 4/9, 9/4, 9/2 (37m)
Georgina Stoker bt Crrrie Hastings 9/3, 9/1, 9/6 (25m)
Jenny Wright bt Millie Tomlinson w/o
Lauren Siddall bt Louise Clark 9/3, 9/4, 9/1 (24m)
Matthew to face
Beachill for title
Nick Matthew, put out his squash hero, Peter Nicol 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9 in
the semi-finals of the Nationals to go through and face three time champion
Lee Beachill in the final. He may also move into the favourites position as
Beachill, the titleholder, is short on conditioning and had a gut-wrenching
five setter against his Pontefract stable-mate James Willstrop over 83
It was all desperately close against Nicol with Matthew’s driving and volley
clinching the important first 11-9. Nicol came back onto his game to level
in the second and they fought point for point in the third until Matthew won
a climatic rally at 8-9 – both players sprinting front to back and firing in
shots until Matthew’s trickle boast gave him the initiative and momentum to
take the next two points.
It was going to be desperately for Nicol to get back into it as a confident
Matthew raced to an 8-2 advantage.
“I don’t think I hit one in the middle in the eight rallies,” said Matthew
afterwards. “I was trying not to think of winning but at 8-2 I thought I was
there and suddenly I was short of energy.
Nicol closed to 8-all but Matthew got the break he needed with a dying
bounce to clutch his head in disbelief. He was in the final.
Willstrop out to
Beachill in Classic
When top seed the 22-year-old
James Willstrop walked on court against the player he had been bought up
with, the 28 year-old, three time National Champion Lee Beachill he could
have been forgiven if he thought “this is a player I’ve never beaten and I’m
the top seed.” Beachill’s, was a style that he had trouble with. It closed
his attacking game down and didn’t let him flow. He wanted to play attacking
squash. That was his game.
It was Beachill however to got the early winners and as Willstrop tried to
attack, to finish the long rallies imposed on him, he hit the tin three
times on backhand drops to give his opponent a 5-1 initiaitive. Beachill,
confidence up, was feeling the pace of the ball as only he does, fading his
drives into the side and running his string across the ball to take the pace
of it so it would die in the back. That set up the winning opportuntiies and
he slotted in these in to take the important first 11-5.
“I thought I would just try to stay with him but I couldn’t believe how well
I played the first,” he said.
It was a hot ball, that may have helped him, and Willstrop early mistakes
that put him ahead but it did not last long. A sustained burst of pressure
squash from Willstrop with winners, fine working shots and the continual use
of his long reach and elastic arm kept Beachill in perpetual motion form 5-5
in the second and it took its toll. An indifferent end to 2005 by Beachill’s
high standards and an exploritory knee operation from which he laboured a
little to recover in January had left him short of match practice and
conditioning. He was worried about lasting and struggling to find relief to
the constant pressure Willstrop was subjecting him to. On the wrong end of
the rallies he let the third go a little to save his reserves. Willstrop was
2/1 up and looking totally in control.
Then there was one or those little events in sport that may have been
pivotal but passed almost unnoticed at the time. The ball broke in the short
knock-up at the start of the fourth. A new one was proved. It was very
lively, as they tend to be early on, the heating was up, for some reason,
and when they started to play the ball bounced beautifully for Beachill. It
sat up just a bit more, allow rallies and denied the deader ball to his
opponent that he had been punished with. Beachill was revived again,
energised and Willstrop was pulled out of his dominating position in the
middle. Beachill took the fourth 11-5 to set up the climatic decider.
Willstrop’s shots took him ahead 7-5 but a harshish stroke and a tin, he
should have avoided, let Willstrop through to 9-7. It was all so close,
Willstrop fell and brilliantly recovered but no matter how hard he chased he
could just not get the final ball. Two winners gave it to Beachill 11-5,
8-11, 3-11, 11-5, 11-8 and he bent double with the pain of it.
Asked how he sustained his effort with so little preparation he said, “I’ve
no idea.” He was into his sixth consecutive final.
Tania Bailey, made another
step back to rehabilitating her career after a long illness by beating
Alison Waters 9-2, 9-0, 7-9, 9-6 to win a place in the final _ the
first time she has done so.
Quarters Day 2:
Civil Warfare at Nationals
All the preliminaries are over for the victorious England team to wage civil
warfare at the National Championships to see who will be the champion of the
world’s top playing nation. Peter Nicol won the last semi-finals against
ever improving Peter Barker in straight games to go through. Suddenly it
will be all on Saturday. There will be a step up in pace and pressure.
Barker played well and had chances to provide more of a threat. He is
strong, and one suspects he drills well, for he was well in the rallies with
Nicol but made errors at important times, where Nicol made very few and
perhaps he could have exploited his openings better for Nicol made this
count playing to the gap – if Barker comes away with this message he will
have learnt a vital lesson.
The start may have unnerved the youngster a little. He had to wait on court
will Nicol was announced .. the great … the legend … and he clapped along
with everyone else. A little deference put him behind 5-1 but then it seemed
as if Nicol’s focus wondered a little as Barker took advantage with some
confident winners to lead 9-8 before three errors to give Nicol the game
11-9. Perhaps he was a bit too eager but those are the facts and the pattern
repeated itself. He had 3-2 in the second before making three errors, and
5-3 in the third before another three whereas Nicol was errorless in each of
There were just three examples of the intimidating explosive Nicol in the
match but after each brilliant recovery he did not get up to retrieve the
counter drop and one was left wondering if that brilliant speed had just
faded slightly. Beaten on two drops from the back Nicol explained it away.
“I didn’t see them. It’s nothing to do with speed,” he said.
It was a pretty self contained performance but as with his opponents one
feels that the champion must deliver a little more – it is just that at
present we cannot seed where it will come from.
Matthew to face Nicol
Nick Matthew moved comfortably enough into the semis with a three set win
over Welsh champion Alex Gough after surviving a real fight in the first
which basically decided the match. Driving and volleying with some
authority, with smooth powerful movement he survived Gough’s tricky
improvisation, topspin forehands and prodded volleys to win game ball 10-8.
An easy opening on the forehand beckoned, Gough gave up on his running and
as it was almost a formality Matthew, almost indifferent, eased up on the
drop, and the under paced ball fell on the tin. He had to pay a small
penalty for that casualness but survived a game ball in anxious moments
before taking the initiative 14-12.
“That first game was long and brutal. It could have gone either way and I
sneaked it,” he said later. “After that it was going to be very hard for
Gough’s frequent crosscourting and improvised looseness was not going to get
him back into the game and provided a fine workout for the fourth seed.
“I’m hitting it well and happy with my movement,” said Matthew. “I have also
have a few sessions with David Pearson (National coach) last week for the
first time since Christmas and that has helped.”
Matthew points out that the semi-finals, if Peter Nicol goes through, could
be contested between England’s World Championship winning team. He was in
fine form here but there was not too much of a clue as to how he would go
against Peter Nicol. He has beaten him once in the Super Series Finals in
2004, when Nicol was not at his best, but he knows he can do it.
In the women’s event Laura Hill played even temperedly to trouble the third
seed Jenny Duncalf going close in the first 9-7, coming back to take the
second and again putting up a fight in the third to go down over 57 minutes
9-7, 1-9, 9-2, 9-7. Duncalf was able to outpower her in the end but will be
looking for improvement if she is to threaten for the title.
Quarters: Day 1:
WILLSTROP TO CLASH WITH BEACHILL
The first day of the split quarter-finals at the Nationals was a subdued
affair with everything ending up as it should. James Willstrop, the top seed
on form, overcame a plucky performance from Joey Barrington making his first
outing at this level.
“It was a tough ask for him after a horrendous match yesterday,” said James
of his opponent who had contrived to collapse from a seemingly indominatable
11-5, 11-0 lead over Daryl Selby and was fortunate to escape 11-9 in the
fifth. Not ideal preparation if you want to put your running shoes on the
next day against one of the sports top shot makers and so it proved.
“After the first game he dropped off,” said Willstrop. “I played as hard as
I could to get him to that stage.”
There was not much Barrington the younger could do about it. This was his
first outing in the quarters. He is a late starter, not having played as a
junior and amazingly having just got into squash when he was a 20 year old
student. He is still getting better but will have to take his chances a bit
better than he did here if he is going to worry the Willstrop’s of this
It was a nice workout for Willstrop, who got all his shots working well and
will be able to go into the semi-finals fresh and in tune.
That semi will be one to savour. Willstrop, British Open finalist, World
Open semi-finals, winner in Qatar, top seed for the Nationals, has never
beaten his Pontefract stablemate Lee Beachill.
Beachill went through against a jaded Adrian Grant, who reportedly had just
7 hours sleep in 3 days in a convoluted return journey from the Virginia
Pro, in Richmond, via Chicago, scene of his Windy City outing and into
Manchester. He was however able to get a bit of kip on court against
Beachill as the three time champion got his wished for step up in form to
set up the Pontefract clash on Saturday.
In the women’s quarters, Tania Bailey showed little mercy to Becky Botwright
to set up a rematch against Alison Waters whom she beat in the British Open.
Both have no reason to not play well. Waters was perhaps a little patchy and
it took a little burst to comeback against her old Middlesex rival Dominique
Lloyd-Walter when down 5-7 in the third but she found the edge she had and
saw the match out 9-5, 9-5, 10-8.
Lloyd-Walter generally rallied tight and well in the 48 minute encounter but
needed just a bit more pressure or finish to really disrupt Waters and even
when she had the initiative at the end of the third could not quite find it
to extend the match.
Willstrop & Beachill To
Contest Nationals Semi-Finals
James Willstrop and Lee Beachill will meet in Saturday's
semi-finals of the British National Squash Championships in a repeat
of last year's final at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity
The Pontefract pair came through tonight's (Thursday) quarter-finals in
straight games, top seed Willstrop beating eighth seed Joey Barrington,
from Somerset, and third seed Beachill, the defending champion, overcoming
Kent's seventh seed Adrian Grant.
In the women's quarter-finals, Lincolnshire's No2 seed
crushed local favourite Rebecca Botwright, the eighth seed from
Manchester, for the loss of just a single point, while fourth-seeded
Londoner Alison Waters beat her Middlesex county team-mate
Dominique Lloyd-Walter, the seventh seed, 9-5 9-5 10-8 in 48 minutes.
It was nip and tuck in the first game of the first men's quarter-final with
little separating the pair until favourite Willstrop took three successive
points from eight-all to win the game.
After both players were advised by their fathers in the break between games
– James by noted coach Malcolm Willstrop and Joey by the legendary
six-times British Open champion Jonah Barrington – the top
seed came back to face his opponent who had survived an 85-minute marathon
second round match less than 24 hours earlier.
At 1-2 down in the third game, Willstrop reeled off nine points in a row to
reach match ball, before winning 11-8 11-5 11-3 in 34 minutes.
"He was clearly just that little bit off the pace after his match last
night," said Willstrop. "That makes such a difference – and I know as I've
been there myself a number of times!
"But you can't give Joey an inch – give him a sniff and he'll get
encouraged," added the 22-year-old.
Barrington junior had a different view of the game: "I've only played on
that glass court four times before - and it's so different from the
conventional courts I'm used to.
"But James played well – he's one of the most consistent of the top
players. Hopefully I'll be playing these guys more often – that's the level
I aspire to," added the 26-year-old.
Jonah Barrington agreed that Willstrop is now looking like a complete player
– 'as if he was born on a glass court'.
"James plays with the confidence of someone who's made his imprint over the
last two years at the highest level of the game. He looks the part," said
the 1980 National champion.
Less than 24 hours after acknowledging that 'drastic improvements' were
needed in his game, it was a more assured performance from Lee Beachill that
took the three-times champion to an 11-9 11-6 11-5 win over left-hander
Grant in 45 minutes.
"I feel I have made some improvements since yesterday – but getting on that
glass court also made a big difference," conceded Beachill, the 28-year-old
former world number one.
Asked how he felt about playing his good friend Willstrop in the
eagerly-anticipated semi-final, Beachill said: "Everybody always puts
massive pressure on us when we're due to meet – perhaps it's because I'm one
of the few people he's never beaten.
"But it's two days away - and I'm sure he and I feel the same way, that we
hope it's a good match."
Since arriving in Manchester direct from Virginia in the USA, where he
reached a PSA Tour semi-final last Saturday, Grant admitted that he has only
had seven hours sleep in three days.
"I just haven't been able to have any rest since the event in the US, and
didn't feel good going into the match today. I've never been in this
position before - usually I've been able to refresh myself mentally and
physically. There's only so much the body can take," said the Londoner.
In the first women's quarter-final, Manchester's Rebecca Botwright
admitted that she was "on the back foot for most of the match" as she went
down 9-1 9-0 9-0 to second seed Tania Bailey.
Back in the semi-finals for the first time since 2003, Bailey has been
plagued with injuries for the past few years – but now believes these
troubles are finally behind her. "It's the first time I've been able to
train as hard as I used to – and it's really paying off," said the
26-year-old from Stamford in Lincolnshire.
Men's Round Two
Champion Beachill Admits Need For 'Drastic Improvements'
A disappointed defending champion Lee Beachill came off court after his
second round win in the British National Squash Championships at the
National Squash Centre in Manchester today (Wednesday) and conceded that
'drastic improvements' were needed to his game.
Beachill, who won the title for the third time last year, dropped the first
game against retired former tour player Nick Taylor – now head coach at the
National Centre – and eventually scrambled to a 5-11 11-4 11-0 11-5 win
after 39 minutes.
"I started poorly and Nick began well – he deserved that first game," said
the 28-year-old Yorkshireman afterwards. "I was pretty disappointed with my
performance - I didn't feel at all relaxed. The only plus point is that I
"Having had such a short game yesterday, perhaps this was just what I needed
Beachill, who underwent exploratory knee surgery in early January, is
playing in his first tournament since the Saudi International in December.
When asked how he felt about the prospects of becoming the first player in
history to reach the men's final for a sixth successive year, the third seed
pronounced: "If I get through this tournament with my knee unscathed, I'll
"But I'll have to drastically improve on my performance if I'm going to get
anywhere near the final," said the England international.
Top-seeded Yorkshireman James Willstrop also started slowly against Phillip
Barker, the 14th seed from Essex. Beachill's Pontefract club-mate saved five
game balls fighting back from 5-10 down in the first game – but, after
winning the game on a tie-break, cruised to an 11-10 11-5 11-1 victory in 34
"I did really well to win that first game," said 22-year-old Willstrop
later. "I think it got to him physically – but I knew that if I'd lost the
first, I just needed to keep plugging away."
The 6' 5" Yorkshireman will face Somerset's eighth seed Joey Barrington, son
of the legendary six-times British Open champion Jonah Barrington who won
this title in 1980 - at the age of 39!
Joey showed the dogged persistence of his father after his 2/0 lead was
eliminated by Essex opponent Daryl Selby – and he was then forced to fight
from behind throughout the decider only to lead for the first time when he
converted match-ball to win 11-5 11-0 9-11 4-11 11-9 after an 85-minute
A gritty all-Yorkshire battle for a place in the quarter-finals took place
between Leeds-based Simon Parke, the 33-year-old 10th seed and a former
champion, and Nick Matthew, the 25-year-old from Sheffield who is seeded to
reach the semi-finals for the second time in a row.
Parke, now head coach at the Heaton club in Bradford, clinched the 31-minute
first game after a 4-2 tie-break, then was on the defensive for most of the
next three games before going down 10-11 11-4 11-7 11-3 in 66 minutes in his
first loss to Matthew since September 2003.
When asked if the match hinged on Matthew's superior fitness, Parke said:
"That's partly true, but you must give Nick credit for his improvements in
terms of accuracy over the past year or so."
The former world No3 acknowledged that his international career "took a bit
of a dip" when he took up his coaching job. "But eight months later, I think
I've found the balance and it's showing in my results.
"I still feel I've got a lot of energy in me – and even if I decide to
retire from the PSA, I'll still play the BSPA circuit and events like the
Nationals," added the three-times finalist.
There was an upset in the women's event when unseeded Derbyshire
fire-fighter Laura Hill beat sixth seed Stephanie Brind, a former No4 from
Kent who plans to join the police force, 9-6 9-4 9-7 in 36 minutes.
"I knew it was going to be tough – but I really wanted that win," said the
29-year-old from Duffield.
Hill moves through to the quarter-finals where she will face Yorkshire's
third seed Jenny Duncalf on the all-glass show court at the National Squash
"I've played on a glass court before – but nothing like this," said Hill on
the eve of her first Nationals' quarter-final.
Boosted by the withdrawal of her top-seeded sister Vicky Botwright,
Manchester's Rebecca Botwright came through her first match as a seed in the
tournament when she beat Merseyside qualifier Georgina Stoker 9-4 2-9 9-5
10-9 in the women's first round.
"I made quite a few errors and Georgina took full advantage," said the
24-year-old later. "I was quite nervous, but having Vicky in my corner
between games was a big help.
MEN'S FIRST ROUND:
Willstrop Workout Earns
Favourite First Round Win In Manchester
The "good workout" that he
wanted earned Yorkshire favourite James Willstrop a comfortable first
round win in today's (Tuesday) British National Squash Championships
at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester.
The 22-year-old from
Pontefract, ranked six in the world, is top seed in the event for the first
time - and 'enjoying the pressure'.
"The first game of an event
is always a bit weird, and it's always good to get the first win out of the
way so that you can then relax into the event," said the former world junior
champion who led England to success in December's World Team Championships
Willstrop beat 31-year-old
Scott Handley, a former world No41 from Oxfordshire, 11-6 11-7 11-9
in 30 minutes and now faces Essex's 14th seed Phillip Barker
for a place in the last eight.
Defending men's champion
Lee Beachill dropped just four points in his 11-minute victory over
Devon's Hadrian Stiff. The title-holder's opponent was not only
Stiff by name, but also stiff by nature, as he conceded the match after just
two games, suffering with a 'stiff back'!
Beachill might have
preferred a more testing introduction to the tournament in which he has
reached the final for the past five years, winning three times. Willstrop's
Pontefract club-mate underwent exploratory knee surgery early in the new
year and has only been able to train properly for the past week.
"I'm hitting the ball well,
but I just haven't had any matches recently – and there's no substitute for
that," said the 28-year-old third seed who is aiming to become the first
player in history to each the final six years in a row.
a former runner-up from Manchester who is now the head coach at the NSC,
came out on top in a popular local derby against Stockport's Andrew Whipp,
winning 8-11 11-8 8-11 11-6 11-7 in 62 minutes.
"It's amazing, this event
really lifts my game," said 34-year-old Taylor.
A clash between Premier
League club team-mates Ben Garner and Tim Vail provided
the only upset of the day when Vail, the Team Chichester third
string, beat team number one Garner, the event's 13th seed, 8-11
11-9 11-8 11-8 in 50 minutes. Vail, 28, from Chichester will now meet sixth
seed Peter Barker, from Essex, for a place in the quarter-finals.
The women's qualifying
finals produced two evenly-contested matches in which the eventual winners
recovered from match balls down to earn places in the main draw. Ireland's
Stockport-based Laura Mylotte fought back from 0/2 down, then saved
three match balls in the decider, to beat Manchester's Amina Helal
3-9 8-10 9-3 9-6 10-9. Mylotte's reward is a first round meeting with top
seed and defending champion Linda Elriani.
1/2 down against Yorkshire's Deon Saffery and then saved two
match balls in the fourth game before going on to win 9-5 6-9 7-9 10-9 9-5
in 65 minutes. The 20-year-old from Merseyside will now take on local
player Rebecca Botwright, the eighth seed from Manchester.
Ford Gets Wish Granted In
National Championships In Manchester
Ben Ford cruised through two qualifying rounds in the British
National Squash Championships at Sportcity today (Monday), then had his
The 30-year-old from Welling had earlier told the event's official website
that if he qualified, he hoped he'd play Peter Nicol, the double
Commonwealth Games gold medallist who is the event's second seed.
Ford beat Surrey's British Junior U17 Open runner-up Joe Lee 11-5
11-9 11-5, and Welshman Jethro Binns 11-9 11-7 11-6 in the qualifying
finals – and was then drawn to meet Nicol in today's first round match at
the National Squash Centre.
Peter Nicol is seeded to reach the final for the fourth time since winning
the first of his two titles ten years ago. The 32-year-old from London is
expected to face Manchester favourite James Willstrop in Sunday's
final. Willstrop, top seed for the first time, begins his campaign against
Oxfordshire's Scott Handley.
Updated men's first round draw:
Willstrop (Yorks) v Scott Handley (Oxon)
Barker (Essex) v [Q] David Barnett (Northumbria)
Barrington (Somerset) v [Q] Shaun le Roux (Yorks)
Selby (Essex) v [Q] Chris Simpson (Hants)
Beachill (Yorks) v Hadrian Stiff (Devon)
Taylor (Lancs) v Andrew Whipp (Cheshire)
Grant (Kent) v Alex Stait (Glos)
Meads (Berks) v Jaymie Haycocks (Shrops)
Rushworth (Yorks) v Peter Billson (Lancs)
Gough (Wales) v [Q] Joel Hinds (Derbyshire)
Parke (Yorks) v [Q] Tom Richards (Surrey)
Matthew (Yorks) v [Q] Martin Gibson (Lincs)
Garner (Surrey) v Tim Vail (Sussex)
Barker (Essex) v Laurence Delasaux (Yorks)
Genever (Sussex) v [Q] Kristen Johnson (Scotland)
Nicol (Yorks) v [Q] Ben Ford (Kent)
Favourite Botwright Out
Top women's seed Vicky
Botwright, the world No5 from Manchester, has been forced to withdraw
from this week's
British National Squash Championships
after aggravating a foot injury in a WISPA World Tour event in the
USA last week.
The championships get
underway at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in
Manchester on Tuesday (7 February).
"I'm very sorry and
extremely gutted that I am forced to pull out of the Nationals," said the
28-year-old in a message on the event's official website
"I have a foot/heel problem
that got worse when I was playing in New York at the weekend.
"I am having treatment on
the injury, and while I would love to be a trooper and push through for
myself and the Manchester supporters, I am being sensible and thinking ahead
for the events that I have in the Commonwealth Games which is my main
Sussex's defending champion
Linda Elriani takes over the title as top seed, with Lincolnshire's
Tania Bailey elevated to second seed.
The Botwright family's
disappointment at Vicky's withdrawal will no doubt be tempered by the news
that younger sister Rebecca Botwright is now promoted to a seeded
position in the revised draw. The 24-year-old becomes the No8 seed and will
now face a qualifier in the first round.
Revised women's 1st round
 Tania Bailey (Lincs) v
Suzie Pierrepont (Sussex)
 Rebecca Botwright (Lancs)
 Alison Waters (Middx) v
 Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Middx)
v Jenna Gates (Sussex)
 Stephanie Brind (Kent) v
Laura Hill (Derbyshire)
 Jenny Duncalf (Yorks) v
Sarah Kippax (Cheshire)
 Laura-Jane Lengthorn (Lancs)
 Linda Elriani (Sussex) v
James Willstrop Confident
Of British Nationals' Success
who led England to success in last December's World Team Championships
in Pakistan, is confident of success in next week's
British National Squash
Manchester, where he has been named as top seed for the first time.
The 22-year-old from
Pontefract in Yorkshire begins his campaign against Oxfordshire's Scott
Handley, according to the men's draw announced today (Tuesday) by
The 2006 men's and women's
championships, boasting world-class fields from England, Scotland, Wales and
Ireland, will take place at the National Squash Centre at
Sportcity in Manchester from 7-12 February, after qualifying on
Sunday and Monday (5/6 February).
Willstrop is expected to
face his good friend and Pontefract club-mate Lee Beachill, the third
seed, in the semi-finals – in what would be a repeat of last year's final
when Beachill became only the third person to win the men's title three
"I'm not thinking that far
ahead," said Willstrop. "I'm just focusing on my first round match with
Scott. We played a few times when I was a junior, when he used to beat me,
but I took him when we last met, in the 2004 English Open in Sheffield.
"But I'm really looking
forward to playing – it's always a great tournament, with a great
atmosphere. I feel very confident."
When asked how he felt being
favourite for the first time, the world No6 added: "It’s quite weird really
- like it was leading the England team for the first time in Islamabad last
month, ahead of the likes of Peter Nicol, Lee and Nick Matthew.
"But I'm pleased to be
number one and am happy to have the pressure. I'm going to relish the
occasion," said Willstrop.
Second seed Peter Nicol,
appearing in the event ten years after winning the first of his two titles,
is drawn to face a qualifier in the opening round. The left-hander is
predicted to face fourth seed Nick Matthew, from Sheffield, in the
Manchester star Vicky
Botwright is top seed in the women's event for the first time. The
world No5 is drawn to face Sussex's former European Junior Champion Suzie
Pierrepont in the first round.
In what would be her maiden
appearance in the semi-finals, 28-year-old Botwright is expected to meet
third seed Tania Bailey, from Stamford in Lincolnshire. With five
first round exits in six appearances in the event, Bailey will be hoping to
keep her anticipated semi-final date with her England team-mate.
Defending women's champion
Linda Elriani is the event's No2 seed. After winning the title for
the first time last year in her 17th appearance in the event, the
world No6 from Eastbourne will be hoping to reach her sixth final. Elriani
meets a qualifier in the opening round and is expected to face Yorkshire's
fourth seed Jenny Duncalf in the last four.
Selby Seeded As Walker
Limps Out Of British Nationals
Essex's Daryl Selby
has been promoted to a seeded position in next week's
British National Squash
following the last-minute withdrawal of Alister Walker, the 14th
seed from Gloucestershire.
Leeds-based Walker is suffering with an ankle injury which requires surgery.
Selby has been named as 16th seed and will face a qualifier in
the first round. The 23-year-old from Witham, near Colchester, broke into
the world top 50 in January and celebrated a career-high No 46 world ranking
Yorkshireman Laurence Delasaux also benefits from Walker's
withdrawal. The 20-year-old former European Junior champion from Hull, who
celebrated his second international Tour title in Oxfordshire last month, is
elevated from the qualifiers to take on Essex's No6 seed Peter Barker
in the first round.
The 2006 men's and women's British National Championships, boasting
world-class fields from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, will take
place at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in
Manchester from 7-12 February, after qualifying on Sunday and Monday
Manchester Stars Seeded
For Historic Nationals Success
The announcement of the
seedings for next month's
British National Squash
the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester
suggest that the main titles will fall into local hands for the first time
in the event's history.
from Worsley in Manchester, is favourite in the women's event for the
first time, while Manchester/Pontefract Premier League team star
James Willstrop is top seed in the men's championship, also for
the first time.
Botwright leapt to
No5 in the world rankings in December to become England's
highest-ranked woman player for the first time. Simultaneously, Willstrop
catapulted six places to a career-high No2 in the men's world list to
overtake his Manchester/Pontefract team-mate Lee Beachill as the
highest-ranked Englishman in the world.
The 2006 British National
Championships get underway at the NSC on Tuesday 7 February after qualifying
on Sunday and Monday (5/6 February). The finals, on the all-glass showcourt
which staged the Commonwealth Games action in 2002, will take place on
Sunday 12 February.
Since crowning his status as
England's most successful junior of all time by winning the World U19 title
in India in December 2002, 22-year-old James Willstrop – from Pontefract in
Yorkshire - has enjoyed a glittering run as a senior. After reaching last
year's Nationals' final, he went on to reach the climax of the British Open
final – also at the NSC. But his appearance in December's Qatar Classic
final provided the standout result of the year when he beat Australia's
David Palmer in straight games to lift the prestigious Super Series title in
Vicky Botwright reached five
international tour finals last year, winning the Yokohama Open crown in
Japan. In addition, the 28-year-old claimed the first title in her home
town when she won the Gerrard Grand Prix trophy at the NSC in September.
The British Nationals will
again boast world-class fields - including defending men's champion Lee
Beachill, the world No8 who is hoping to become the first man to reach
the final six years in a row, and women's champion Linda Elriani, the
world No6 from Sussex who won the title for the first time last year in her
17th appearance in the
Elriani is seeded to meet
Botwright in the women's final, while Beachill is named as third seed in the
men's event, behind Peter Nicol, arguably Britain's most successful
player of all time, who is the No2 seed. Nicol, who won the 50th
major international title of his career last year, will be looking to win
his third National trophy in Manchester
– ten years after winning his first!
The 2006 championships will
mark the first time that Nicol, Willstrop, Beachill and Yorkshire's Nick
Matthew have been together since winning the World Team
Championships title for England in Pakistan in December.
Age Group Competition