Masters Result and Report Page
Beachill In Seventh
Heaven In British Nationals In
Just six weeks after undergoing hernia surgery, Yorkshireman Lee
Beachill survived a marathon encounter against England team-mate
Adrian Grant in the semi-finals of the British National
Squash Championships in Manchester to become the first
player in history to reach the men's final seven times.
Second seed Beachill, a three-time winner of the title, will play top
seed and defending champion James Willstrop - his England team
and Pontefract club-mate - in Sunday's men's final at the National
Squash Centre at Sportcity.
The surprise women's final will produce a new champion when
takes on Londoner Alison Waters
after the pair achieved
semi-final upsets over the first and second seeds, respectively.
"To win, I thought I'd have to do it in three games," said 30-year-old
Beachill, who was appearing in his first
UK tournament since the operation.
But after dropping the third game, he saved five game balls in the
fourth, then clinched his fourth match-ball to win 11-8, 11-7, 8-11,
11-10 (9-7) in 91 minutes to make the seventh final in his last eight
appearances in the event.
"I knew I was hitting the ball well - but once the game went over 30
or 40 minutes, I started to break down. After the third game was
gone, I thought I'd be up against it - but he didn't push away,"
explained Beachill, from Pontefract.
"But, even though I was tired in the fourth, the adrenaline took over
and I began to move more freely. I'm delighted to be in the final -
but more delighted to be playing that well!"
On his historic seventh final appearance, Beachill admitted that he
"But I amaze myself when I look back at the history and see what I
achieved - including things like beating Peter Nicol when he was world
number one. It's a huge tournament to win.
"I was desperate to win tonight's match - but the fact that he seemed
more desperate gave me a bit of a lift."
In what he described as "a very strange game", Willstrop beat
Gloucestershire's Alister Walker, the eighth seed appearing in
his maiden semi-final, 11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5.
Willstrop, the England number one who boasts a 3-0 head-to-head record
over Walker, led 7-3 in the third game - but Walker, playing inspired
squash, fought back to draw level at eight-all.
In the fourth, Willstrop romped to an 8-1 lead before closing out the
match after 60 minutes.
"I don't normally have trouble getting round players, but I did
tonight," conceded the 24-year-old world No6. "And there were so many
lets - I can't think anyone wanted to see those! It just wasn't a
very satisfactory match.
"But I don't think I've played against him when he's played so well -
he was so relaxed and he grew in confidence when he got the lead."
When asked if he can recover from his disappointing performance for
the final - especially against his close friend and Pontefract
training partner Lee Beachill - Willstrop said: "I very often play
poor matches in tournaments and go on to win.
"It teaches me that you can go from a match like yesterday, when I
played brilliant and fluent squash, to a day like today - yet still
put in a good performance 24 hours later."
Walker was understandably downcast afterwards: "But if anybody had
told me a week ago that I would end up in the semi-finals, I would
have been delighted.
"The most important thing for me was to show that I can make some
inroads against people like James," added the 25-year-old world No32
claimed a place in the women's final for the first time after
favourite Tania Bailey, from
Lincolnshire, retired injured after two games. Former
champion Bailey arrived in
Manchester having not been on court for two weeks after sustaining a
ham-string injury in New York.
The Lancashire lass from Preston took the first game convincingly
against her higher-ranked
England team-mate, and came back from 4-6 down in the second to secure
"I was feeling good and really up for the third when Tania decided to
stop," said the 24-year-old world No12. "But it's fantastic to be in
The pair's previous meeting took place last October in the World Open
Madrid where Bailey, despite suffering with breathing difficulties,
beat her English rival in four games.
"I'm not expected to beat Tania, yet when we played in
Madrid suddenly everybody assumed I'd win - and I felt really tense on
court and threw the match away," explained Lengthorn-Massaro. "I was
determined not to let that happen again."
Tania Bailey was distraught at not being able to complete the match:
"I felt it a bit in the first game - then a couple of lunges in the
second made me realise that there was a problem," explained the world
"Even though I could have played through the pain, it's the worry of
what that might do to me long-term which was of greater concern. It's
really disappointing, I hate stopping in the middle of a match.
"I wouldn't necessarily have been able to beat Laura, but I'd just
like to have given her a game."
Later, Londoner Alison Waters avenged her defeat in last year's
final by dethroning Yorkshire's reigning champion Jenny Duncalf
10-11 (0-2), 11-8, 11-10 (2-0), 11-5 in 48 minutes.
Duncalf, the second seed from
Harrogate, romped to a 7-0 lead in the opening game before her
opponent, the fourth seed, replied - moving ahead to claim the first
game-ball at 10-9. However, Duncalf came back to clinch the game.
Waters won the two close games that followed - and it was one-way
traffic for the lower-ranked player as Waters went on to take the
match and earn a place in the final for the third time in four years.
"A final in the Nationals? It can't get much better than that!" said
the 23-year-old world No11 who squandered a two-love lead to lose to
Duncalf in a 74-minute marathon final last year.
"In the first game it was 7-0 before I knew it! But I like to attack
so I like the new scoring.
"At the beginning of the second game, I said to myself 'don't give her
a 7-0 start again'."
Walker Beats School Pal
Stait To Earn Maiden Semi In Manchester
In a surprise clash between two Gloucestershire school friends in the
quarter-finals of the British National Squash Championships, it
was the younger Alister Walker that prevailed to reach
his maiden semi-final on the all-glass court at the National Squash
"I'm dead chuffed," was the 25-year-old number eight seed's comment
immediately after his 11-8, 11-7, 11-2 victory over Alex Stait,
the 15th seed who reached the last eight after a shock win
over third-seeded England international Peter Barker.
"We met at
Wycliffe College in Gloucester when I was 14 and Alex was about two
years older - he used to give me a few lessons!
"We're very good friends - but when I heard that he'd won his earlier
match, and that we'd be meeting in the quarters, I suddenly felt under
a lot of pressure.
"It's a good job I had the day off yesterday to refocus myself - it
would have been very easy for us to have chatted about the match. But
I had to be professional and get the job done," explained the world
No32, a full-time professional who is now based in
One of the highest-ranked English players who does not play the
international Tour, Manchester-based Stait is highly regarded by his
"His front court game is really exceptional - I had to keep the pace
Walker will now meet defending champion James Willstrop in the
semi-finals. The 24-year-old top seed from Leeds put in a devastating
performance to beat Jonathan Kemp, the sixth seed from
Shropshire, 11-4, 11-4, 11-2 in 24 minutes.
"I was fully aware of Kemp's ability - I played him in
Qatar (last November) and had to be really focussed," said the England
number one, ranked six in the world. "If you let him attack, he can
"I think I played well, but I've got to keep it up. I desperately
want to click tomorrow - and I'll need to if I'm going to win this
"I feel I know this court as well as anyone," continued Willstrop. "I
feel very comfortable here, and I like being comfortable.
"I'm in love with what I'm doing."
In the women's quarter-finals, Yorkshire's defending champion Jenny
Duncalf, the No2 seed, recovered from a game down to beat Irish
champion Madeline Perry, the fifth seed, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8
to set up a semi-final against Alison Waters - a repeat of last
Waters, the No4 seed from
London, overwhelmed Essex's first-time quarter-finalist Lauren
Briggs 11-3, 11-4, 11-2.
"I feel I'm into the tournament now," said Duncalf after the win over
Perry which reduces the Irish star's head-to-head lead over her to
4-3. "She was putting me under a lot of pressure - and I lost my
concentration at the end of the first game - so it's nice to come out
with a win."
Like all competitors in the women's event, Duncalf is coming to terms
with the new 'point-a-rally' scoring system (to 11 points per game)
which is being trialled at the British Nationals at the request of
WISPA, the Women's International Squash Players' Association.
"You really realise how big the points are - it makes it really
intense. You don't really know what it's like until you've played
it," explained the world No8 from
"I was 9-0 up in the third game and thought I was concentrating quite
well - and suddenly the score was 9-5! There's no safety net in this
Alison Waters needed just 21 minutes to overcome Lauren Briggs and
claim her fourth successive berth in the semi-finals.
"I thought I played quite well - the ball was quite bouncy at first,
but if you get it into the corners, it dies," explained the
23-year-old world No11.
"I think she was a bit edgy - it was possibly her first time on the
glass court, whereas I am quite used to it now."
Grant Stems Selby Comeback
Londoner Adrian Grant booked the first place in the men's
semi-finals after stemming a comeback by Essex's ninth seed Daryl
Selby in the quarter-finals of the British National Squash
Championships on the first day's play on the all-glass court at
the National Squash Centre in
The Leeds-based left-hander led all the way through the first two
games, but Selby put more pressure on the fourth seed in the third,
before reaching his first game-ball at 10-8.
However, the experienced Grant raised his game to reclaim the
advantage, before clinching an 11-5, 11-9, 11-10 (3-1) victory in 49
minutes - and his third appearance in the event's last four.
"It was tight in the third game, but as I was 2/0 up in games I
thought I should just go for it - and played some risky shots which
worked," explained Grant, the first black player ever to play for
"Even though Daryl had had two marathon matches in the previous
rounds, he still kept going - I definitely didn't take him lightly.
"I've been working on a few things on my game recently - and now have
much more confidence to play winners from the centre of the court."
When asked about the importance he places on the National
Championships, Grant was quick to reply: "All the top English guys
want to win this one. With an arena like that, everybody wants to do
"It's a lot more open this year. I'm playing well - and if I stick to
what I know, I could go all the way," added the 27-year-old.
Grant will meet second seed Lee Beachill in Saturday's
semi-finals after the Yorkshireman beat experienced Welshman Alex
Gough, the fifth seed, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5 in 31 minutes.
Beachill, appearing in his 11th successive quarter-final,
is appearing in his first event on home soil since undergoing hernia
surgery at the beginning of the year.
"I'm pretty delighted with the way I'm playing - I keep having to
remind myself that it was only six weeks ago that I was having
surgery! If you'd said then that I would be on court now, in this
form, I would have said you were mad," said the 30-year-old three-time
winner of the title.
Beachill was full of praise for Gough, the 37-year-old who is also
competing in the Over-35 championship. "I think the squash he's
played over the last 18 months or so has been his best ever. We've
played loads of times - and the last few have been great matches -
he's so tough."
Beachill sustained a freak neck injury midway through last year's
event - causing him to withdraw on the eve of the semi-finals. "That
was a real low point in my life last year - it took a while to get
"But I always seem to fulfil my aim here and love playing in the
event," added Beachill, who has notched up a record six successive
"I don't feel under any pressure this year as I have no expectations.
But I'm hitting the ball so well - and I know that when I walk on
court, I'm tough to beat.
"I don't think I've got anything to prove here," concluded the former
world number one.
In the women's event,
Lancashire's Laura Lengthorn-Massaro beat her long-time rival
Dominique Lloyd-Walter in straight games to claim a semi-final
berth for the second successive year.
"It's good to be back in the semi-finals again - but there's more
pressure this year as I am seeded to do so," said the 24-year-old
third seed from Preston after her 11-9, 11-7, 11-5 victory in 34
"We've had some battles over the years - in juniors she was a couple
of years older and always beat me then. So I know how to play her."
But there has also been a new
Manchester influence in her game since Laura started working with
local star Nick Taylor, head coach at the National Centre.
"I started working with Nick just before Christmas - he's been helping
me with my technique," explained the
"I feel good here - I definitely like playing here," added the world
No12 who now meets
England team-mate Tania Bailey for a place in her first final.
Bailey, the 2006 champion from
Lincolnshire, beat Cheshire's Sarah Kippax 11-7, 11-7, 11-7.
"That's definitely the best she's ever played against me," said Bailey
of her opponent, the No8 seed who is now based in
"I feel as strong as I've ever been," added Bailey, who sustained a
ham-string injury two weeks ago which hampered her Nationals'
preparation. "My match practice is a little bit lacking - but I'm
just so glad I'm playing."
Stait Celebrates Home Win In
Manchester-based Alex Stait pulled off "easily my best result ever"
when he upset England international Peter Barker, the third seed, in
today's (Wednesday) first round of the
British National Squash Championships
The 28-year-old from Stroud in Gloucestershire, who moved to Alderley Edge
more than three years ago, was celebrating his ninth appearance in the event
since 2000. However, his shock 11-6, 11-4, 11-10 (4-2) victory over Barker,
the world No12, takes Stait into the quarter-finals for the first time.
"I just played out of my skin," summed up Stait after his breakthrough
33-minute win. "I know that on my day I can really play well - and this was
"I moved to
Manchester more than three years ago with my fiancée Karen - and since then
I've been coaching at the club in Alderley Edge.
"It was great to get so much support from local friends and club-mates
tonight - they gave me a real lift. This tournament has always had the feel
of a local tournament to me - which is why it's so good to do well in it."
Barker admitted afterwards that he had been suffering with a fractured toe.
"My physio assured me that I wouldn't do any further damage to it if I
played - and I didn't want to pull out of the tournament. But it did
restrict my movement. I will now rest it and give it a chance to heal
before playing in the Canary Wharf Classic in
London next month."
The surprise win takes Stait into an all-Gloucestershire quarter-final -
against school-mate Alister Walker! Originally from
Gloucester, Walker has also moved north - to Leeds. "We've played loads of
times before - it'll be a great match," added Stait.
Top-seeded Yorkshiremen James Willstrop and Lee Beachill
claimed their anticipated places in the quarter-finals after straight games
second round wins. Favourite Willstrop, the defending champion from Leeds,
beat 16th seed Ben Ford, from Kent, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 in 26
minutes while second seed Beachill, from Pontefract, defeated county
colleague Simon Parke 11-6, 11-5, 11-2 in 33 minutes.
Essex's No9 seed Daryl Selby pulled off a minor upset when he
overcame Somerset's Joey Barrington, the seventh seed, 11-4, 11-7,
7-11, 11-6 in an 89-minute marathon.
Less than 24 hours after considering withdrawing from the women's event, top
seed Tania Bailey coasted to a straight games first round victory
over Irish international
The world No5 from
Lincolnshire had not been able to train or
compete for almost two weeks, since picking up a ham-string injury during a
quarter-final match against the Australian world No2 Natalie Grinham
in the Apawamis Open in New
"Even up to yesterday, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to play," said
the 28-year-old England No1 after her 11-4, 11-6, 11-5 win in 24 minutes.
"But thanks to the brilliant efforts my fantastic physio Jim Webb (the Head
Physiotherapist at the English Institute of Sport, North West) - including a
two-hour session I had with him yesterday - I felt absolutely fine during my
first match for nearly two weeks.
"I was a little bit nervous when I went on court - but my body felt fine.
Hopefully, I'll get stronger with every match - and I'm looking forward to
playing my next match on the all-glass court. I love that glass court,"
added the 2006 champion from
The women's event is being played using 'Point-A-Rally' scoring for the
first time - falling in line with PAR scoring to 11 points a game that has
considerably enhanced the spectator appeal of the men's game.
"I like it - it makes the games much more exciting for the crowd," said
Bailey after her first round match. "We'll need to get used to it - but it
puts pressure on the higher-seeded players as their opponents can just let
rip. But it's worked so well for men's squash."
In the longest women's match of the day, sixth seed Dominique
Lloyd-Walter, from Harrow in Middlesex, battled for 44 minutes to
overcome Yorkshire qualifier Lauren Siddall 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 11-10
"Before I knew it, we got to five-all in our first game, when the score
would still have been love-all under the old system," explained Siddall, the
23-year-old world No42 from Pontefract. "I definitely prefer it - but
you've got to come out ready. It keeps you on your toes!"
There was local disappointment in the women's event when
Manchester's Rebecca Botwright - the younger sister of No2 seed
Vicky Botwright, who was forced to withdraw from the event with a viral
infection - went down 11-8, 11-2, 11-4 to No7 seed Lauren Briggs.
"She played well and I made too many errors," said the 26-year-old who is
now a Special Educational Needs teacher's assistant at
Walkden High School in Swinton.
In the last match of the day, defending champion Jenny Duncalf eased
to an 11-10 (3-1), 9-11, 11-8, 11-4 win over
Birmingham qualifier Vicky Hynes. The 25-year-old second seed from
Harrogate, who won the title for the first time last year, will now face
Ireland's Madeline Perry in a repeat of last year's semi-final.
Fifth seed Perry, playing in her first UK tournament since sustaining a
serious head injury in Italy last October, beat qualifier Emma Beddoes,
from Warwick, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5.
Willstrop Delights In War of the Roses Win In
Defending champion James Willstrop described it as 'the perfect
day for a Yorkshireman' after beating local hero Nick Taylor in
the first round of the British National Squash Championships in
Just 48 hours after winning the Swedish Open trophy on the
international Tour, Willstrop was back at the scene of his maiden
triumph last year at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity.
Competing against his former Premier League club team-mate, Willstrop
romped to an 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 victory in 32 minutes.
"That couldn't be any better for a Yorkshireman - a perfect evening,
playing squash against a Lancastrian with about 50 Lancastrians
cheering him on," said the top seed from Pontefract, also a firm
favourite with the local crowd.
"But I loved it - and it was a really enjoyable game, as it always is
with Nick. He was really relaxed and ran his heart out."
Taylor, the 36-year-old from Stalybridge who is the reigning
British National and British Open Over-35 champion, also
thoroughly enjoyed the workout.
"When I first saw the draw, I was really pleased that I was playing
James - as we always have a great game," said the event's one-time
runner-up, now head coach at the Sportcity centre.
"But it's amazing how quickly you forget the pace of the modern game -
it's a million miles an hour! The mind's there, but the body isn't
"But this is the best crowd in the world - and that's great for
Five weeks after undergoing revolutionary hernia surgery, former
champion Lee Beachill was back in winning form today when he
beat Derbyshire qualifier Joel Hinds in straight games
"I'm actually playing well and hitting the ball really well - but my
movement is not there yet, so I don't really have any great
expectations," said the 30-year-old from Pontefract after his
confident 11-3, 11-3, 11-7 victory in 35 minutes.
Beachill, who boasts three title victories from six successive
appearances in the men's final, has set up an all-Yorkshire second
round clash with Simon Parke, the tenth seed who beat
Scottish qualifier Stuart Crawford 11-2, 11-1, 9-11, 11-4.
Parke, the 1998 champion, beat former world number one Beachill the
last time they met in the event - in the 1999 semi-finals. Should
Parke win again, it would take the 35-year-old into his 50th
championship match since making his debut in the event more than 20
A shock looked on the cards when Stephen Meads, a 37-year-old
from Wokingham in Berkshire celebrating his 20th appearance
in the event, fought back from 1/2 down to level his match against
Daryl Selby - and then went 4-0 up against the ninth seed from
But the Nationals' veteran was unable to force through his advantage
as 25-year-old Selby rallied back to win 10-11 (0-2), 11-4, 11-5,
8-11, 11-7 in 93 minutes.
"I knew what to expect with Steve - he's probably been practicing for
the last three months for this actual match!" said Selby, the England
No9 afterwards. "I've got a lot of respect for him - we used to play
together in a team, and he's really good to be around.
"If any young professional wants to learn how to give 100%, then he
needs to look no further than Meadsy. But I was happy with the way I
played - I played well all the way through - it's just that Meadsy got
everything back! I'm not at all annoyed with myself."
The first upset took place later in the day when Surrey's Tom
Richards secured his first ever win over 14th seed
Tim Vail, the England No15 from Sussex who reached the
quarter-finals 12 months ago. Richards is fighting back to full
strength after knee surgery last year which kept him out of action for
"I'm surprised at how quickly I've been able to get back into it - I
suppose I feel fit enough, but perhaps not quite sharp enough,"
explained the 21-year-old England No24 from Walton-on-Thames. "I've
always been wary of Tim, so it's good to get my first win over him.
"I reckon I'm about 85% back to my former level now. I was 53 in the
world before I ruptured my cruciate ligament - I'm now 121, so I've
got a lot of catching up to do!"
Vail blamed his heavy recent workload on his poor performance: "I
turned 30 and got married in December - and I've only had one day off
in the last month," explained the England No15 from Lee-on-Solent.
"When I got on court I found that my legs were like jelly!"
The day's qualifying finals for the women's championship produce twin
successes for both Yorkshire and Warwickshire - with
and Kirsty McPhee, from Pontefract and Normanton, respectively,
joining Vicky Hynes and Emma Beddoes, from Warwick and
Birmingham, respectively, in the main draw.
Teenager Waller Is Youngest Nationals' Qualifier
Teenager Adrian Waller became the youngest player to qualify
for the 2008 British National Squash Championships when he
beat Essex's Rory Pennell 11-6, 11-7, 11-8 in 28 minutes in today's
(Monday) men's qualifying finals at the National Squash Centre in
The 18-year-old British Junior champion from
Enfield in Middlesex, who led England to success in last year's European
Junior Team Championships in Belgium, will face local star
in Tuesday's first round. Whipp, the 26-year-old 13th seed from
Stockport, is making his sixth appearance in the event and seeded for the
Waller survived an 88-minute second round qualifying match against
Northamptonshire's Chris Fuller earlier in the day before easing
through against his
Essex opponent in the evening.
"I felt a lot looser and more comfortable than in my earlier match, and he
seemed a bit tired, maybe feeling his five-setter from earlier," said Waller
after his qualifying final. "It was a different game too, a faster pace
which suited me better.
"I was a lucky loser last year, so it's good to qualify properly this time."
Derbyshire's Joel Hinds was given the toughest ride in the qualifying
finals - taking 81 minutes to overcome Surrey's England junior international
Joe Lee 11-10 (4-2), 11-5, 5-11, 9-11, 11-6. The 20-year-old from
Duffield now meets three-time champion Lee Beachill, the No2 seed
from Pontefract in