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Defending Champions Darryl Selby and Laura Hill both retained their titles in the National Racketball Championships at the Edgbaston Priory Club yesterday.

Selby, currently 34 in the World Squash rankings, won a third successive title beating fellow Essex player Paul Allen 3-0 in the final, while Derbyshire’s Hill also chalked up a third successive title, beating local pro, England star Vicky Hynes in a tight 3-0 final.

Sponsored by Ektelon and Just Rackets, the tournament drew and entry of 200 players from all corners of the British Isles in 15 competitions, from the Open events through to the Women’s Over 55 and Men’s Over 70.

Selby was stretched to four games in the second round by Warwickshire’s James Bowden, and then beat the promising Kent youngster Ted Jeal 3-0 in a gruelling quarter-final. Meanwhile, fourth seed Neil Guirey of Chapel Allerton pipped Nick Hynes 15-13 in the fifth in the second quarter-final, but could not sustain theeffort against Selby in the semi-final, losing in straight games.

In the other half of the draw, last year’s finalist Tim Vail of Sussex eased in to the semi finals with straight sets wins over Andy Warmington (Warks) and Tom Phipps (Bucks)s, while Paul Allen, another England ranked squash player, proved too strong for Mike Dickens (Yorks) in the second round and

the flamboyant Simon Martin (Bucks) in the semis.

Vail had to withdraw from his semi final with Allen for family health reasons, but although fresher, Allen had no answer to Selby’s retrieving, and all-round pressure play in the final, and was unable to take a game.

Laura Hill had a tougher path to the final this year with a much stronger draw than in previous years. She beat Hasmpshire’s Bettina Harvey in the quarter finals and was stretched by another rising England squash star, Lauren Selby in the semis. Selby, meanwhile, was given a stern test by Warwickshire’s Lisa Key, before winning in straight games.

In the other half Hynes, who has recently claimed some notable scalps on the women’s professional squash circuit, disposed of Devon’s Karen Bealey and Derbyshire’s Lisa McKenna in straight sets on her way to the finals.

Hill’s all-round athleticism proved too strong for Hynes’ guile in the final however, and she triumphed

3-0, despite being pushed to 15-13 in the third set. 

In the Master’s section, Jim Lord won both the Men’s Over 35 and Over 40 events, beating brother David Lord in the former and Cleaver’s Andy Pallett in the latter.

Competing in this event for the first time, Paul Haigh won the Over-45’s against fellow Yorkshireman Ian Cawthorne, Edgbaston Priory players dominated three of the other events, with wins for Rob Shay (Over 55), John Shingler (Over 65) and John Hart (Over 70).

Mike Livock (Norfolk) retained his Over 50 title, and John Cockill (Yorks) took the Over 60’s.

In the Women’s Masters, former England player Claire Walker (Yorks) retained the over 35 crown, and there were wins fr Bev Vatcher (Dorset, over 40), Lesley Strugess (Derbys, over 45, Jenny Matthews (Surrey, over 50) and the evergreen Bett Dryhurst (Worcs, over 55)


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