Peter Nicol In Line For
Second Gold Medal In Melbourne
England will go for two gold medals on Sunday on the final day of the
Beachill and Peter Nicol are just one match away from retaining the title
they won in Manchester after eliminating highly-fancied Australians David
Palmer and Dan Jenson.
in the mixed doubles, Vicky Botwright and James Willstrop will play off for
the gold medal, thanks to a sensational win over New Zealanders Shelley
Kitchen and Glen Wilson.
get his chance to add another gold to the one he won in the singles
following an impressive performance in tonight’s semi-final.
losing the first game – something that is becoming a habit for the No. 2
seeds – Beachill and Nicol were rarely troubled by the Australians, winning
5-9, 9-4, 9-6, 9-4.
opponents in Sunday’s finals will be from Australia, just for a change.
Stewart Boswell and Anthony Ricketts earned their tilt at gold after beating
Campbell Grayson and Martin Knight – the quarter-final conquerors of Nick
Matthew and James Willstrop – in three close games, 9-6, 11-9, 11-9.
If that match was tense, it paled in
comparison to the mixed doubles marathon between England and New Zealand.
Botwright and Willstrop looked down and out
after losing the opening two games to Kitchen and Wilson. And they almost
However, the English pair somehow kept their
composure to win a pivotal third game 13-11. And once they had a game under
their belts, there was no stopping them. They raced away with the next two
games to win 3-9, 6-9, 13-11, 9-3, 9-3.
Now they get the chance to win an unlikely
gold against Natalie Grinham and Joseph Kneipp, who won a thrilling
all-Australian battle against Rachael Grinham and David Palmer in five
Unfortunately, Botwright could not repeat
that success in the women’s doubles. It was always going to be an uphill
task for her and Tania Bailey against in-form Australian duo Natalie and
But the English girls got off to the best
possible start when they took out the first game 9-5, but that proved a
The Grinham sisters responded by taking the
next game for the loss of just three points. Just over half-an-hour later,
the match was finished as the Australians triumphed 5-9, 9-3, 9-3, 9-6.
They will play the gold medallists from
Manchester – New Zealand’s Shelley Kitchen and Tamsyn Leevey – who beat
compatriots Louise Crome and Lara Petera after trailing by two games.
Three Countries Line Up For
Doubles Medals In Melbourne
Lee Beachill and Peter Nicol restored English pride and kept
their gold medal hopes alive with a nail-biting win in the men’s doubles.
On a day when England had several gripping battles against
Australia and New Zealand, the No. 2 seeds were pushed to the brink against
the old enemy Scotland – in the shape of Harry Leitch and John White.
After a hesitant start, Beachill and Nicol recovered to
register an 8-10, 9-2, 9-2, 3-9, 9-6 to advance to the semi-finals.
They will be England’s only representatives in the men’s
doubles semi-finals after Nick Matthew and James Willstrop suffered a shock
Unlike the fast-scoring hustle and bustle of singles, some of the rallies in
doubles are long. Really long.
As a result, organisers at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic
Centre took it upon themselves to liven up proceedings.
In between matches, a giant gun fired T-shirts into the
crowd. The result on Friday evening was some of the loudest cheers we heard
from the Show Court all night. Whoops of adulation from anyone lucky enough
to grab a prize; moans and groans from those nearby who missed out on the
One over-exuberant Australian was even give a dusting down by
the stewards for screaming: “You suck.”
Perhaps his comments should have been directed at the
Scottish pair Leitch and White, who froze after winning a tense first game
against Beachill and Nicol.
The gold medallists from Manchester pulled out some
breathtaking shots to fight their way back into the match, the left and
right-handed combination working well together.
Only two points were conceded in the second game; the same
amount again in the third. An English victory appeared a formality.
However to their credit, Leitch and White rediscovered the
rhythm that had worked so well in the first game and took the match to a
Neither team budged an inch until, with the score locked at
6-6, Beachill and Nicol found an extra gear and claimed the three points
needed for victory.
Nick Matthew and James Willstrop weren’t so fortunate. They
crashed out to Campbell Grayson and Martin Knight in four games. The New
Zealanders took the match, which finished three minutes shy of two hours,
9-4, 9-5, 5-9, 9-6.
The third game alone lasted a withering 45 minutes after play
was stopped when Matthew’s racquet smashed into Grayson’s face.
The result means Matthew will leave the Games empty-handed,
while it is another quarter-final exit for Willstrop, who also lost in the
last eight of the singles.
“Awful, we’re devastated,” Willstrop said afterwards.
“Nick and I wanted gold, so it’s a failure in our eyes.
“We knew they’d be good, that they’d be difficult to beat.”
Grayson and Knight will be joined in the semi-finals by
Australian quartet David Palmer and Dan Jenson, and Stewart Boswell and
In the conclusion of the women’s doubles preliminary rounds,
Tania Bailey and Vicky Botwright enjoyed mixed fortunes. A solid morning win
was followed by a heartbreaking five-game loss to defending champions
Shelley Kitchen and Tamsyn Leevey.
The day began perfectly for the England stars when they
enjoyed an excellent win over Australians Kasey Brown and Amelia Pittock in
the morning session. After losing the first game, they hit back to take the
next two, before eventually winning a see-sawing fourth to seal a 7-9, 9-1,
9-3, 9-7 triumph.
It was a similar pattern in the evening session when they
pushed the New Zealanders, who recently won the World Doubles Championships
here in Melbourne, to the brink.
Bailey and Botwright took out the first game, but were soon
on the back foot after their opponents claimed the next two.
The English pair responded by winning the fourth game, but it
was not to be. The deciding game went the way of the New Zealanders, who
prevailed 6-9, 9-6, 9-6, 5-9, 9-5.
Speaking after the game, a delighted Leevey said there wasn’t
much to choose between the teams.
“The game was good. I felt I did a lot of work and had to
really keep the ball up. It was really intense,” she revealed.
The loss means Bailey and Botwright must face the fearsome
Grinham sisters in the last four. The Australian pair have won all four
matches so far.
England’s other representatives Jenny Duncalf and Alison
Waters did not qualify for the semi-finals after losing two matches in the
Botwright and Willstrop then had to pick themselves up from
their evening defeats to team up in the mixed doubles quarter-finals. But
they showed no signs of fatigue as they overcame New Zealand’s Lara Petera
and Callum O’Brien in four games.
Without doubt, Botwright and Willstrop were aided by the fact
they received a bye into the last eight, by virtue of some impressive
results in the preliminary rounds.
After dropping the first game, they recovered to win 6-9,
9-5, 9-7, 9-6.
No. 7 seeds Alison Waters and Adrian Grant did not fare as
well as their teammates, losing their quarter-final 9-1, 9-6, 11-9 to top
seeds Rachael Grinham and David Palmer.
Earlier in the day, the English pair had booked their spot in
the last eight, thanks to an impressive 9-2, 9-4, 9-6 defeat of Canadians
Runa Reta and Matthew Giuffre.
However, they couldn’t carry that form into their
Matthew and Willstrop
Team up for Doubles
Just five days after their pulsating singles quarter-final, Nick Matthew and
James Willstrop teamed up to score two wins in the men’s doubles on day
eight of the Commonwealth Games.
The English pair opened their account at the Melbourne Sports
and Aquatic Centre with a routine 9-3, 9-7, 9-4 win over Joseph Karigithe
and Chirag Shah from Kenya.
They returned in the evening session to take on Canadian duo
Shawn Delierre and Matthew Giuffre. Although they lost the first game, the
end result was the same, with Matthew and Willstrop winning 8-10, 9-4, 9-5,
It was all a far cry from last Saturday when Matthew had
saved six match balls before downing Willstrop in a thrilling five-game
“It’s been good that we’ve played with and against each other
many times,” Willstrop said today.
“We’re good friends and playing against each other isn’t a
Matthew agreed that it was a good experience.
“We’re really enjoying it and we’re being positive about the
whole thing,” he said.
After winning two games on Thursday, Lee Beachill and Peter
Nicol remained on course to defend their title when they beat Gye Duncan and
Duncan Gray 9-6, 9-5, 9-2.
The No. 2 seeds won in just 12 minutes against the pair who
hail from Norfolk Island, which lies
in the South Pacific 1676
kilometres east of Sydney.
Completing a busy day at the office, Willstrop joined forces
with Vicky Botwright in the mixed doubles to notch another victory. They
overcame Jamaicans Christopher Binnie and Marlene West 9-3, 9-4, 9-5.
And there was also success for England’s Adrian Grant and
Alison Waters against Zambians O’neil Chilambwe and Chiluba Chilfuya.
Meanwhile, Australian duo Rachael Grinham and David Palmer
looked in ominous form against South Africans Clinton Leeuw and Tenille
Swartz, winning 9-2, 9-4, 9-3.
Possibly the game of the day, and certainly the longest, was
in the women’s doubles when Waters and Jenny Duncalf came unstuck against
New Zealanders Louise Crome and Lara Petera.
After being on court for more than two hours, the English
pair eventually went down 9-4, 8-10, 9-7, 7-9, 10-8. In a match where
England regularly questioned the referee’s decisions, there was a further
hold-up when Petera’s racquet hit Duncalf’s elbow in the third game,
resulting in a delay for the blood rule.
In contrast, Waters and Duncalf returned later to see off
Papua New Guineans Naluge Guy and Eli Webb 9-4, 9-7, 9-6 – a match that
lasted just 16 minutes.
Speaking after the loss to the New Zealanders, Duncalf said:
“I felt we should have won the sets when we were leading, especially the
last set. It’s the first time we’ve played together, so I suppose that we’ve
also had to get used to playing in competitions.”
Unsurprisingly, the victorious Petera was delighted with the
“We’re totally pumped!” she said.
“Now that we have played what is probably the toughest match
of our lives, I’m sure that we’ll be able to handle our other games pretty
In the evening session, Tania Bailey and Vicky Botwright
boosted their medal chances with a 9-1, 9-7, 9-3 defeat of Scotland’s Frania
Gillen-Buchert and Louise Philip.
Australia’s gold and silver singles medallists Natalie and
Rachael Grinham impressed in beating Jamaicans Karen Anderson and Marlene
West 9-1, 9-1, 9-2.
Of course, the result was to be expected, but Anderson’s
comments after the match put the gulf in class into perspective.
“We only play together every four years,” she revealed.
John Murray reporting from Melbourne
Nicol and Beachill to begin title defence
Peter Nicol and Lee Beachill
carried on from where they left off when the defence of their men’s doubles
title got under way at the Commonwealth Games.
The England duo, who won
gold and bronze respectively in the men’s singles on Monday, enjoyed two
comfortable wins at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.
Showing no signs of
fatigue from their exertions earlier in the week, the defending champions
easily overcame Bermudan pair Nicholas Kyme and James Stout.
The Bermudans began
nervously and never really recovered, with Nicol and Beachill prevailing
9-3, 9-7, 9-5 in 30 minutes.
And the No. 2 seeds
returned in the evening session to see off Zambians O’neil Chilambwe and
Chiluba Chilfuya 9-1, 9-7, 9-4.
Speaking after their
victory over the Bermudans, the Englishmen were happy to be back on court.
“It was pretty perfect
for a first match. It was a strong hit-out. I think that’s what we needed,”
“It got Peter back into
the doubles after the high of winning gold the other night.”
“Here it’s not just the
Australians and English that are strong,” Nicol added.
“You’ve got a good Welsh
pair, a good South African pair, the Bermudans – they are strong too.”
Elsewhere in the men’s
doubles, David Palmer brushed aside the disappointment of losing Monday’s
gold medal match when he teamed up with Australian teammate Dan Jenson to
notch two wins.
There was further English
success in the women’s doubles when Jenny Duncalf and Alison Waters made a
successful start to their campaign.
They teamed up to beat
Jamaica’s Karen Anderson and Marlene West Rabess 9-1, 9-1, 9-3. However,
that victory was tempered slightly by a loss to Natalie and Rachael Grinham
later in the day.
Bronze medallists from
Manchester, the Australian sisters, who took out gold and silver in the
women’s singles won three close games 11-9, 9-3, 10-8 in 51 minutes.
quarter-finalists Tania Bailey and Vicky Botwright also got off to a winning
start. They easily got past Nirasha and Tehani Guruge 9-0, 9-4, 9-2.
The Sri Lankan duo went
down to defending champions Shelley Kitchen and Tamsyn Leevey earlier in the
day. Speaking after their 9-4, 9-4, 9-5 win, New Zealander Leevey said:
“It’s good to get the first match over positively. I hope to do well and am
definitely here for a medal.”
And there were mixed
results in the mixed doubles for the English contingent.
Vicky Botwright and James
Willstrop joined forces to oust Welsh pair Tegwan Malik and Gavin Jones in
five thrilling games.
After a poor start, the
No. 4 seeds evened things up at one game apiece before falling behind again.
Eventually though, they pulled through 8-10, 9-2, 10-12, 9-3, 9-6.
“For me, the first game
was a culture shock,” Botwright said after the match.
“I felt pummelled as the
ball was always put on me.”
Willstrop agreed doubles
was a different kind of ball game.
“Doubles is different to
singles with new challenges and tactics,” he said.
“You need patience and
I’m not good that.”
Teammates Alison Waters
and Adrian Grant were also locked in a five-game duel against New Zealand’s
Lara Petera and Callum O’Brien although, this time, the result went the way
of their opponents.
The New Zealanders won a
marathon match 7-9, 10-8, 4-9, 9-3, 9-6 in 82 minutes.
“New Zealand are doubles
experts, so we really had a challenge on our hands,” Grant reflected
immediately after the match.
“We’ve only been
practising mixed doubles for a few months.”
“We needed to tactically
change a bit more and, when we did, we were winning,” Waters added.
Despite that setback,
Waters and Grant returned in the evening session to beat Botswanans Florens
and Hosenbux and keep themselves in the medal hunt.