ENGLAND 3-1 FRANCE
James Willstrop bt Jean-Michel Arcucci 9/1, 9/0, 9/5
Nick Matthew bt Renan Lavigne 9/0, 9/4, 9/5
Peter Nicol bt Thierry Lincou 9/3, 9/1, 9/3
Lee Beachill lost to Gregory Gaultier 6/9, 6/9
FRANCE HOW IT’S DONE
The English Team today gave a great squash lesson to the French Team in
front of 2,000 sold seats plus at least 500 volunteers, VIP, organisation, etc.
It took England only 7 games and 99 minutes to win their 29th European Team
WELL PLAYED JAMES, UNFORTUNATELY…
James Willstrop disposed of Jean Michel Arcucci (ranked 50) with very little
trouble in 3 games, 9/1, 9/0, 9/5 in 34 minutes. And although the young
Englishman didn’t really have any trouble, he did relax slightly in the 3rd and
made a few mistakes, much to the appreciation of the French crowd. But James
Willstrop was just in another league.
"I just couldn’t relax and let go" said a very disappointed Arcucci. "I twisted
my ankle a few days ago, and I was over conscious of it. In the 3rd, I started
playing better, but I felt also that he was making more mistakes than he should
It started very badly for the French. How was the rest of the day going to go?
NICK MATTHEW: "I had goose-pimples"
Not well, dear, not well. Nick Matthew was in top condition, physically and
"When I came in the arena, I actually had goosepimples," he said. "It’s the
first time in my life it's happened before a competition. The atmosphere is
great. I was aware of the crowd of course, but I prefer having a whole crowd
cheering for the other guy and just the English team supporting me, than playing
in front of 2 people. And if you don’t enjoy an event of this quality, you’ll
never enjoy anything."
First game to Nick, 9/0 in 6 minutes.
In the second, Renan started to take the measure of his opponent and to find
some rhythm. The rallies became longer, more flamboyant with long drives and
short drops, retrieving and good runs around the court. But Nick still kept the
Frenchman at bay and won in 17 minutes, 9/4.
In the 3rd, Renan held to 5/5. Then they offered us a beautiful lesson in
backhand drives that could have been an exhibition of Mr Malcolm Willstrop's
training exercise: 42 drives in a row on the backhand, broken by Nick and won by
Renan on a forehand drop shot.
Nick soared his wings and took off, leaving Lavigne on the ground, taking the
third game 9/5.
"There was no pressure," said a calm Lavigne. "They were the favourites by far.
They’ve got 5 players in the top 20, and have the best team in the world. We
were here to enjoy the occasion. From now on, it’s Mission Impossible."
As the English had won 6 games to zero, the French had to win every game of the
next two matches.
THE BOSS FINISHES IT OFF
But Peter Nicol didn’t like the idea of losing even one game, even to please a
whole French nation!
What a lack of manners. Really!
Thierry did feel the pressure, and although he played some amazing points,
running to the 4 corners of the arena, in and out, up and down, he made too many
tins, too many mistakes. And the “Boss” Peter Nicol, back at last to the World
Number one spot, won the game 9/3, destroying all French hope that was left, and
went on to win the next games 9/1, 9/3.
BEACHILL-GAULTIER: PEACE AT LAST
I know, I know, it was a dead rubber, no pressure, and this and that, but I know
a lot of people who dreaded the next meeting between Lee Beachill and Grégory
For those of you who have been living on the moon for the last 6 months, at the
last World Team Championships in Vienna back in November, France finished second
in the event, beating England thanks to an extremely controversial match between
the calm Beachill and the fiery Gaultier.
But today, none of that!
The two players couldn’t do enough to please the other one. I’m sure they both
had been coached, and control and good manners was the name of the game.
To the point where, in the second game (Gaultier won the first one 9/6),
Beachill saw a ball not up, the ref didn’t, Gaultier had a word with Lee, then
turned to the ref and said "Let’s play a let", which Lee declined.
And at 7/6, the ref saw Beachill’s shot up, and the fair English player actually
gave the ball back to his opponent, saluted by a storm of applause from the
A bit "please have this point", "no really I couldn’t", "please I insist" … kind
But better than "I’m going to strip your skin bit by bit with the strings of my
racquet, then strangle you with my shoe laces", don’t you think?
2 points later, Grégory Gaultier "sauvait l’honneur", saved the French honnor by
winning a symbolic point.
The English Team was just in a different world all together today. But tomorrow
is another day…