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21/05/2012
BRITISH OPEN (Women) 2012
 

Nick Matthew Wins Historic British Open Crown

Reports
  Final      Semi Finals      Quarter Finals     2nd Round    1st Round   Preview

Allam British Open 2012
Women's Draw

The 02, London,  $150k

Round One
15th May
Round Two
16/17 May
Quarter Finals
18 May
Semi Finals
19 May
Final
20
May
 [1] Nicol David (Mas)
11/2, 11/3, 11/6 (20m)
[Q] Maria Toor Pakay (Pak)
 Nicol David
11-7, 11-7, 11-3 (28m)
Samantha Teran
 Nicol David
8-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-0 (45m)
Joelle King
Nicol David
11/5, 11/8, 11/4, (39m)
Laura Massaro
 
Nicol David
v
Nour El Sherbini
[11] Samantha Teran (Mex)
11/9, 11/6, 11/7 (30m)
[Q] Lauren Briggs (Eng)
 [6] Rachael Grinham (Aus)
11/13, 11/7, 11/5, 15/13 (58m)
Emma Beddoes (Eng)
 Rachael Grinham
3-11, 11-5, 11-8, 5-11, 15-13 (60m)
Joelle King
[12] Joelle King (Nzl)
11/6, 11/7, 11/4 (28m)
[Q Coline Aumard (Fra)
[3] Laura Massaro (Eng)
11/5, 8/11, 8/11, 11/6, 11/3
[Q] Latasha Khan (Usa)
Laura Massaro
15-13, 12-10, 11-6 (39m)
Natalie Grinham
Laura Massaro
11-13, 11-3, 11-9(51m)
Camille Serme
 [9] Natalie Grinham (Ned)
11/9, 11/5, 11/7 (30m)
[Q] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng)
 [8] Kasey Brown (Aus)
11/7, 2/11, 11/4, 11/6, 13/11 (82m)
Jaclyn Hawkes (Nzl)
Jaclyn Hawkes
11-2, 11-9, 11-5 (23m)
Camille Serme
[10] Camille Serme (Fra)
11/8, 11/9, 8/11, 11/5 (51m)
Sarah Kippax (Eng)
[13] Low Wee Wern (Mas)
9/11, 12/10, 11/7, 8/11, 11/7 (70m)
Alison Waters (Eng)
Alison Waters
9/11, 7/11, 11/9, 11/9, 11/7 (59m)
Annie Au
Annie Au
11-9, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6 (56m)
Nour El Sherbini
Nour El Sherbini
14/12, 7/11, 11/4, 11/9, (40m)
Raneem El Weleily
[7] Annie Au (Hkg)
6/11, 11/6, 11/1, 14/12 (54m)
[Q] Gaby Huber (Sui)
[16] Nour El Sherbini (Egy)
11/8, 11/7, 8/11, 5/11, 11/3 (54m)
Joey Chan (Hkg)
Nour El Sherbini
11/6, 4/11, 5/11, 11/3, 11/5
Madeline Perry
[4] Madeline Perry (Irl)
11/7, 11/8, 11/6 (27m)
[Q] Sam Cornett (Can)
[14] Dipika Pallikal (Ind)
8/11, 9/11, 11/9, 11/5, 11/5 (70m)
Omneya Abdel Kawy (Egy)
Dipika Pallikal
11/4, 8/11, 11/4, 7/11, 11/7 (51m)
 Raneem El Weleily
Raneem El Weleily
12-10, 11-7, 11-5 (27m)
Jenny Duncalf
 [5] Raneem El Weleily (Egy)
11/6, 19/17, 11/8 (32m)
Amanda Sobhy (Usa)
[15] Donna Urquhart (Aus)
11/6, 11/8, 11/2 (30m)
[Q] Heba El Torky (Egy)
Donna Urquhart
1/2, 11/13, 11/4, 12/10 (45m)
Jenny Duncalf
 [2] Jenny Duncalf (Eng)
11/6, 10/12, 11/8, 11/6 (57m)
Delia Arnold (Mas)

Qualifying finals:

Samantha Cornett (CAN) bt Line Hansen (DEN) 8-11, 11-9, 11-1, 12-10 (40m)
Lauren Briggs (ENG) bt Maud Duplomb (FRA) 11-3, 11-4, 11-4 (24m)
Heba El Torky (EGY) bt Joshna Chinappa (IND) 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-3 (49m)
Maria Toor Pakay (PAK) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 11-5, 4-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7 (46m)
Coline Aumard (FRA) bt Siyoli Waters (RSA) 9-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-2
Latasha Khan (USA) bt Kylie Lindsay (NZL) 11-4, 11-4, 11-6 (24m)
Gaby Huber (SUI) bt Laura Pomportes (FRA) 11-1, 11-9, 11-8 (38m)
Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Aisling Blake (IRL) 11-5, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5 (44m)

 

Click on Images for Larger View

Final

David Halts Giant Killer Sherbini To Reclaim British Open Title 

Nicol David regained her title in the Allam British Open Squash Championships after beating Nour El Sherbini.  The Malaysian star took just three games to dispatch the giant-killing teenager, but conceded afterwards that she’d better get practising in order to stay at the top of the women’s game.   

It was a nervy start for Sherbini but the sixteen-year-old settled in quickly, catching up with the early run of points made by David.  Despite the daunting occasion, her shot play selection remained ambitious, as it had been all week, but the weight of the spectacle may have resulted in the Egyptian looking to end the points quickly rather than work the rallies.  This resulted in a few errors, which David was happy to take, along with her steady rallies and deadly efficient front court attacks to take the first game. 

Sherbini seemed more relaxed in the second.  For a spell her lengths were tighter and her excellent short volleys were working well.  She kept within three-points of her opponent until the midway stages of second, but her length began to fall slightly short and posed less of a threat as a result.  A sustained period of pressure from David at the end forced loose balls which were picked off easily by the Malaysian.

The teenager continued her search for a threatening length that wouldn’t quite come.  As David continued to impose, the Egyptian seemed less and less confident to attack, favouring the lob over her previously excellent drops.  The world No1 was ever threatening, boasting short to force pressure and picking off any returns.  Understandably, in her 22nd game of the competition, Sherbini’s movement began to look sluggish as the match wore on, and her speed to the front slowed.  Inevitably it was the World Champion who closed out the third game to claim title number 61, her fourth British Open title and draw level with Rachael Grinham in the list of all-time title holders.   

Gallant in defeat, the sixteen-year-old who defeated the fourth, fifth and seventh seeds on her way to the final, spoke after the match of her final experience.  She said: “I don’t really know what happened.  I just tried to play my own game, but she’s the world No1 and she’s so tough.  Playing her, all my shots must be so good.  I’m not sad though and I didn’t play badly.  I’m very happy to have made the final.  I lost today, but it’s okay.  Maybe next year I can come back and do better.”

British Open winner Nicol David said afterwards: “I was so fired up for this final.  She’s an amazing player and it wasn’t easy.  I’ve got to make sure I go home and get practising to cope with the excellent players from Egypt and Asia coming through to challenge now.  Sherbini is definitely up there with the top three in the world already.  It’s nice to have the title back after losing it last time.  I hate losing so it’s a great achievement.”

 

Semi Finals Report to follow

Sherbini Shocks Again To Contest British Open Final

Nour El Sherbini again defied the seedings to become the youngest ever British Open finalist. The sixteen-year-old triumphed over national teammate Raneem El Weleily in four games, with some relentless retrieval and impressive attacking.  The first game could have been a different story all together as there was nothing separating the pair until the teen edged ahead in the tie-break. 

The No5 seed hit back well in the second, controlling the tee more and volleying well to pressurise the younger player. Sherbini refused to be intimidated however, and the world no15 hit back with an explosive third game which lasted just four minutes, to retake the lead.

With Jenny Duncalf and Madeline Perry already out of the competition, and Laura Massaro due to play top seed Nicol David later in the day, a win for Weleily could have seen the Egyptian jump to No2 in next month’s WSA World Rankings, ending Duncalf’s 3-year run in second place.  But Sherbini showed no concern for the rankings as she continued to play like an experienced tour regular rather than a player who is still working through full-time education.  Both players were deadlocked at 9-all with Sherbini playing her 19th game of the competition, but it was Weleily who made two unforced errors to continue the younger player’s remarkable World Series run. 

An exhausted Sherbini said after the match: “There was so much pressure in this match.  But I just had to relax and and try to play own game.  I managed to do that on court and my game worked well.  Now I’ll just try to believe that I’ve really won, and get ready for the final.” 

The one player between Sherbini and a complete World Series upset is world No1 Nicol David, who made efficient work of dispatching remaining home interest Laura Massaro. David started quickly, keen to settle and establish a rhythm after the previous day’s first game loss.  The scores were close early on, but the Malaysian’s excellent retrieval and consistent length helped her establish a lead over Massaro in the first game, that the Englishwoman was unable to claw back. 

Ever under pressure, some loose play around the middle from Massaro, continually left her susceptible to David’s attacks.  Massaro got stuck in well, taking her opportunities early on, and again the scores were close until the top seed’s consistently steady length and retrieval of even the most pressured Massaro attacks, saw a breakdown in resistance towards end the second game. 

The Englishwoman seemed to gain some momentum as the crowd grew more vocal, But it was too little, too late though as David upped the pace to take the game. The crowd could do nothing to lift Massaro, and the third was to be the shortest game of the contest as David dominated proceedings from then on, closing out the win and very much looking for WSA World Tour title number 61. 

Nicol told the crowd afterwards: “I think I played brilliantly today.  I was feeding off the crowd, and hearing them really fired me up to take Laura on.  I stayed focussed throughout and I knew that Laura would take advantage if I didn’t. 

“I think I played better in each game but Laura was maybe a bit tired today, though she never stops. It’s amazing to see Nour in the final.  It’s a special event and she’s done very well.”

 

 

Quarter Finals

Sherbini Shocks Another Seed In British Open Quarters

Nour El Sherbini took out another seed yesterday in her third consecutive five-game match of the Allam British Open Squash Championships, defeating No7 Annie Au of Hong Kong in a display of maturity surpassing her years.  

The sixteen-year-old put in a measured display throughout the match, although both players were guilty of some sloppy length as the pressure heightened.  It was the youngster from Alexandria who kept her nerve in the final stages of the fifth to keep her in the running for the British Open title, an accolade she can add to the British Junior Open she won earlier this year. 

Sherbini will face her Egyptian compatriot Raneem El Weleily, after the 23-year-old put in a consummate performance to dispatch an out-of-sorts Jenny Duncalf.  A tight opener came to a head as Weleily made two errors to gift the world No2 with game ball.  However, the home favourite was unable to convert the game, and the No5 seed saved two game balls before continuing on to take the first.

Things went from bad to worse for the Englishwoman as a now confident Weleily collected points quickly, volleying well from the middle and leaving her opponent unable to answer.  At game ball, a brief resurgence from Duncalf saw her claim five points in a row, but the margain was too great and the Egyptian ended the game 11-7.

The third was a similar story as confident play from Weleily forced errors and loose balls from Duncalf.  Just six minutes after the restart, the world No5 had built up a run of points and saw out match-point on the first attempt.

“It’s never an easy match,” said Weleily following her win.  “Jenny is a player I look up to, and it’s always a challenge to play her.  I think I kept my momentum from early in the game, and I'm really glad to win here. I'm so proud of Sherbini getting the semis too.  I look forward to playing her tomorrow!”

Duncalf’s British Open exit leaves Laura Massaro as the lone English hope for glory this week.  The world No4 faced Camille Serme of France, whose quick start to the match, paired with some impressive attacking volleys, forced a tiebreak as Massaro was unable to finish off the game ball advantage.  The young Frenchwoman held her nerve to close out the opening game, as the O2 audience was left to contemplate the possibility of losing the remaining local interest at the quarter final stage.

Massaro was clearly aware of the fact too and responded well, as her improved width allowed for more precise attacking efforts.  Serme was on the back-foot and made a string of errors under pressure to let the home-hope level the score at one-game-all.

The following games were similarly poised, as neither player was able to hold significant advantage over the other.  The lightning-quick Serme utilised her speed well to cope with the building pressure from Massaro, and the scores remained level until the business-end of both games.  Massaro had the extra game plan on this occasion, and closed out the entertaining four-game tie to salvage hopes for a local British Open winner.

Afterwards, the Brit paid tribute to the crowd for their part in her win.  She said: “I’d like to say thanks to the crowd for all their support at this great venue.  Sometimes the expectations as a home player can leave you feeling a bit flat, but it’s important to keep the adrenaline going and the crowd really helped.

“It was really hard work today.  I thought I was unlucky not to win the first game, but I’ve always been told that the third game is a crucial one to win in any match, so that was an important one for me.”

The final game of the evening was contested between world No1 Nicol David, and last night’s giant-killer Joelle King.

King had dispatched reigning British Open Champion Rachael Grinham in an hour long thriller, and seemed in a confident mood going into the quarter final clash.  The New Zealand international dominated the pace of the rallies, allowing David no time to settle.  Her drives were perfectly weighted and the front court play was timed intricately as she held the Malaysian hostage on court for the opening game.  As David got into her stride, both players pushed higher up the court and a late surge from the top seed closed the gap as King sought to finish off the game.  As the difference shortened, she showed no sign of panic and in a fast-paced 8-minute game, closed out the win.

A break and a regroup was all David needed however, and King looked physically less of a force in the second.  Her movement to the front had slowed just enough to give her opponent the rule of the court, and the six-time World Open Champion dominated the following three games, picking off loose shots.  A valiant effort by King in the first game was turned on it’s head, as she managed only nominal points in the subsequent two games, before suffering an overwhelming 11-0 whitewash in the final game to mark the end of her excellent World Series event.

David, who was forced to five games last time she faced King, spoke of her opponent after the match.  “She tried to put pace on everything and it seems to catch me out early on,” she explained.  “She gets confidence quickly and runs with it.  As long as I stay positive and hang in I was okay, but it was the second game before I could settle into a rhythm.

“The semi finals are going to be great here at the British Open.  I’m really pleased to be here.”

 

 

 

 

2nd Round Top Half Report to follow

King Triumph Ensures New British Open Champion

Reigning champion Rachael Grinham crashed out the Allam British Open Squash Championships yesterday after a thrilling five-game spectacle against seed Joelle King.

The No6 seed from Australia won the last British Open event back in 2009, but was unable to halt the momentum of the resilient New Zealand international.  Experience played a part as King looked uncomfortable in the early stages of the match and Grinham wasted no time in raising a substantial lead.  More settled in the second, the No12 seed’s length began to find the back corners, and her superior reach was invaluable to her retrieval efforts. 

King took the lead after the third game after enjoying a successful run of play in which she volleyed well and succeeded in making life difficult for the Australian.  Her opponent, four-time British Open champion, refused to lie down however and mounted a successful comeback to draw level at 2-all and force the fifth and final game.  This proved a cat-and-mouse-like affair, as neither play could extended their lead further than three points, and at the tie-break it was eventually the younger of the pair that broke the stalemate to claim progression to the quarters. 

“I was quite nervous early on I think,” explained a delighted King.  “She’s obviously a great player and I rushed a bit at the start.  I used to flake a bit under pressure, but today was much better and I’m very happy to win. 

“This is my first time in the British Open quarter-finals, so it feels pretty special.  I’ve reached WSA World Series quarters before in Oz and Malaysia, but to be in the British Open here is pretty special.”

Camille Serme continued her maiden run in the $95K World Series event by beating King's Kiwi team-mate Jaclyn Hawkes in the first match of the day. 

The tenth seed from Paris, France started brightly and dominated the first game.  In contrast, Hawkes adjusted slowly to the new court and was unable to find a decent length throughout the early stages.  Her opponent was in no mood to allow her to settle and closed out an 11/2 win in just 4-minutes. 

Hawkes looked more energetic in the second.  Her length had improved and consistently found the back corners.  This new found consistency put the Frenchwoman under more pressure and her error count rose as a result.  More tins allowed Hawkes the opportunity to challenge for the game, but a slight increase in pace from Serme put the game to bed.  It was to be the closest game of the clash, as Hawkes’ presence wilted in the third game.  Some good straight length play was hindered by lose cross courts and Serme, lethal on the volley, was more than willing to pounce on the loose balls and ended the tie 11/2, 11/9, 11/5. 

Serme progresses to face home hope Laura Massaro in the quarter-finals, after the No3 seed won a hard-fought battle against Natalie Grinham.  Massaro just edged a close tie-break first game and repeated the feat eleven minutes later to make it 2-0.  From there, Grinham’s resistance faltered as her English opponent pushed higher and higher up the court, volleying well and forcing errors from the Dutch international.  Strong and assertive throughout, Massaro seemed to relish the stage set at the O2 Arena and completed her 3-0 win to join the other seeds in the next round. 

“It doesn’t feel too cold when you’re on court,” said the world No4.  “But it’s cool, which makes it important to hit a good length and then pounce on the return!

“To play Natalie in the last 16 was always going to be a tough one so I knew it was one I had to prepare for.  It was a tough start but I’m pleased to get through the first match on the glass.”

World No1 Nicol David was last on court for round two, facing close friend and British Open roommateSamantha Teran of Mexico.  The Malaysian star has been top of the WSA World Rankings for over five years now, and put in a typically confident display in front of the buzzing London crowd.  Tight length and consummate volleying saw David extend comfortable leads in the first two games, although Teran’s retrieval play was excellent throughout.  Constantly under pressure, the Mexican’s front court volleying was often loose, only to be picked off by her opponent and David was able to close out the win in under 30-minutes, 11/7, 11/7, 11/3.




2nd Round Bottom Half
Sherbini Scalp Seals Second Round Progression 

Teenager Nour El Sherbini claimed the scalp of the day as the WSA players joined proceedings at the O2 Arena, London for the $95K Allam British Open Squash Championships second round. 

The Egyptian sixteen-year-old showed a sign of things to come as she stormed to a first game lead against Irish opponent Madeline Perry.  Perry was able to steady the play and get a foothold in the game, drawing level and then leading 2-1 as she used her years of tour experience to her advantage.  The rallies were ferocious and the momentum seemed to be in the No4 seed’s favour, but Sherbini weathered the storm and struck back in the fourth to force the deciding game.  Depleted, the Irishwoman succumbed to the youthful stamina of the teenager, who has already played ten games in the tournament so far, during which she has seen 99-minutes of match play. 

The win is sweet revenge for Sherbini, who lost to Perry last month in the Irish Open quarter-finals.  “I am so happy to win,” states the teenager.  “I love the atmosphere here at the O2 Arena and it is so exciting to be playing here.  It helps you to play your best squash. 

“At 2-1 down I had to be focused. I got my confidence back and played a lot of drops. That seemed to be working well but first of all I had to get Madeline to the back of the court.”

Fellow Egyptian Raneem El Weleily maintained her unbeaten record against Dipika Pallikal, but the Indian star didn’t let the No5 seed have things all her own way. 

Weleily began confidently and was able to extend a promising lead quickly as Pallikal seemed sluggish following her 70-minute round one match the day before.  Poor lengths and lose balls were easily picked off by the Egyptian, and it was the second game before Pallikal began to assert any form of control on proceedings.  With an improved length and sharper movement, the world No14 was far more of a match for her opponent, and tellingly took the second game to draw level.  The following two games were a similar cat-and-mouse story as neither play could hold a sustained period of pressure.  It was the higher seed though, perhaps more fresh from a 3-0 win in round one, who came out on top to take the 3-2 win and progress to Friday’s quarter finals.  

Earlier, Annie Au inflicted Alison Waters’ first loss of the 2012 WSA World Tour after a dramatic round two comeback.  The English wild card entry had been on an unbeaten streak so far this year, having claimed three successive WSA titles since returning from injury in January.  Further progression seemed assured for Waters as she took a commanding 2-0 lead against the world No6 but the Hong Kong international altered her tactics to great effect in the third game to spark a resurgence.  

“She’s quite a steady player, and she kept me at the back of the court for the first two games,” explained Au.  “I tried to mix things up more, keep a good length and then play to the front of the court. 

“Sometimes I’m really not patient enough, like I was early on today.  So I have to remind myself of that a lot so I don’t keep giving points away.  She had a long first round game yesterday, so I was aware she might be tired today.  The fourth game in particular was very tight, and I thought when I got back to 9-all and won a stroke, that I could come back and win it.”

A scrappy win for Jenny Duncalf saw her take the last quarter final spot of the day after beating Australia’s Donna Urquhart 3-1.  The English home-hope had looked in complete control in the early stages, with Urquhart yet to make an impact on the match.  A quick 5-minute first game was the wake-up call the Australian needed though, as she tightened her length and met the pace of the game to force Duncalf to a tie-break, which she took 13-11.  A similar lapse in concentration seemed to follow for the world No17 and Duncalf was again allowed to close out a quick game to regain the lead.  Urquhart tried in vain to establish her second-game form, but was ultimately slightly off the pace in the fourth as her English opponent settled the contest with a tie-break win on the first attempt. 

 

1st Round

Waters Continues Winning Trend In British Opener

Fresh from three consecutive WSA title wins, local wild card Alison Waters maintained her winning ways in the first round of the WSA Allam British Open Squash Championships, as she took out 13th seed Low Wee Wern in a scrappy 70-minute five-setter.  It was a contest could have gone either way, as neither player maintained a faultless game. 

Waters spoke afterwards at her relief to have put the match to rest.  She said: “I’m relieved to have won that match really.  It was a bit of an ugly contest and I sort of scraped through at the end.  Wern played really well.  She moved well and kept up the pressure all the way through.  It’s good to get the first match out of the way and I’m looking forward to playing at the O2.”

When play moves to the O2 Arena in London for round two and the rest of the competition, Waters will face No7 seed Annie Au.  The Hong Kong international saw out a 3-1 win against Swiss qualifier Gaby Huberat St Georges Hill Tennis Club, Weybridge to book her second round spot.  An upset had seemed possible early on, as Huber started quickly and took the first game, but Au closed the game out in under an hour 6/11, 11/6, 11/1, 14/12. 

Despite the slow start, Au was pleased with her win.  She said: “I seemed to start quite slow today, and it took me a while to get used to her speed.  In the second and third games I just tried to slow the game down and be more assertive than before.  I think I tried to win the fourth too quickly and started rushing again, but Gaby made some errors which helped me to get back on track.” 

The highlight of playing at the O2 Arena from round two is something that is on the minds a lot of the players, says No4 seed Madeline Perry having dispatched Canadian qualifier Samantha Cornett in straight games.  “Everyone’s keen to make it that far,” said the Irish international.  “It’s always nice to play well in round one, especially against a qualifier who has already had a match or two to warm up.  It’ll be great to get across there tomorrow.”

Perry will face Egyptian teenager Nour El Sherbini, who was forced five-games in her first round match by Joey Chan.  A lapse in concentration by the 16-year-old teenager, allowed the Hong Kong international to claw back level from a two-game deficit.  Refocused however, Sherbini settled back into a rhythm to finish the contest 11/3 in the fifth. 

Sherbini’s Egyptian counterpart Raneem El Weleily also saw success in round one, but not before being pushed to the longest game of the day as she claimed a 19/17 second game, on her way to a 3-0 victory against Amanda Sobhy of America. 

Weleily will face Dipika Pallikal in the second round, an opponent against whom she has never lost.  The Indian star nearly crashed out of the event in round one after going two games down to Omenya Abdel Kaway of Egypt, in a fractious and gritty tie.  Pallikal turned it around however, as the Egyptian’s fitness waned and Kaway began to rely more and more on her front-court prowess. 

“I just had to go into that third game and keep on pushing,” explained the world No14.  “I knew fitness might work in my favour as she’s been out with injury recently.  But she’s very crafty at the front, very deceptive, so I tried to keep the ball at the back of the court for long spells. 

“I’m really glad to get through though.  The squash at the O2 has sounded incredible so far and it’s great for squash that we can be seen at these incredible venues.”

Eighth seed Kasey Brown’s hopes of a British Open run were ended by unseeded Jaclyn Hawkes of New Zealand.  The Australian went two games down to Hawkes, before a change of tactics saw her back in contention at 2-all.  In a thrilling final game encounter lasting 27-minutes, Hawkes scraped back two-match balls to force a tiebreak, which she claimed 13-11. 

Buoyed by her first round win, Hawkes confessed that the O2 was not her sole focus this week.  “This is the last competition before I get married,” explains the WSA President.  “I really wanted a good run in this competition, not only for the O2 spectacle but I also want one last good tournament as a Hawkes! 

“It was a very close match and although I played well in the first two games, she mixed it up more from then, taking the ball short and making things much harder for me.”

Joelle King joined her New Zealand compatriot in the second round after dismissing the hopes of French qualifier Coline Aumard in 28-minutes.  

On the glass showcourt, No2 seed Jenny Duncalf saw off the Malaysian threat of Delia Arnold 11/6, 10/12, 11/8, 11/6 in just under an hour.  This was followed by tenth seed Camille Serme of France beating England’s Sarah Kippax in a similarly close four-game encounter. 

Third seed Laura Massaro faced a tough first round match against an in-form Latasha Khan, who had made short work of her qualifying opponents.  Despite taking the first game, the Englishwoman found herself 2-1 down and admitted to using the prospect of playing at the O2 as an incentive to coming back and winning the game.  She said: “At 2-1 down I thought about missing out on playing at the O2 tomorrow and it definitely fired me up.

“You never want a 3-2 battle in the first round of any tournament, but a win is a win.  Latasha has played really well recently, so I knew it would be tough from the start.   I’m glad and relieved to have come through though.”
 

Fellow Brit Emma Beddoes looked to be springing a surprise of her own as she took the first game against Australian and current British Open champion Rachael Grinham.  Experienced paid dividends throughout the next two games however, as Grinham worked her way back into the match and extended a 2-1 lead.  Ever resilient, Beddoes refused to be walked over and held her own for much of the fourth game.  Forcing the tiebreak at 10-all, she had opportunities to finish the game and push for a fifth, following some remarkable retrieval but the Australian proved too much in the end, taking it 15/13.
 
Rachael’s sister Natalie Grinham gave birthday-girl Sarah-Jane Perry a lesson to remember in her British Open debut, as the experienced Dutch international put in an a consummate performance to progress to the next round, 11/9, 11/5, 11/7 in 30-minutes.

World No1 Nicol David began her British Open title bid with a straight forward win over qualifier Maria Toor Pakay in straight games.  The Malaysian star was among the last matches of the day, and will face Samantha Teran of Mexico, who progresses after beating Lauren Briggs of England 11/9, 11/6, 11/3. 

Play now moves from St Georges Hill to the O2 Arena for the rest of the British Open. 

 

Preview

Perry To Make Birthday Debut Appearance In British Open

Sarah-Jane Perry will make her first British Open appearance later today on her 22nd birthday, after storming through yesterday's qualifying rounds at St Georges Hill Lawn Tennis Club, Weybridge. 

The Birmingham-born Englishwoman will face the experienced No9 seed Natalie Grinham in the first round of the $95K WSA Allam British Open Squash Championships, following assertive four-game wins over higher ranked Siti Munriah Jusoh of Malaysia and Aisling Blake of Ireland in qualifying. 

Fellow home-hope Lauren Briggs also joins the English contingent in round one, after dispatching fellow Brit Victoria Temple Murray and Maud Duplomb of France in confident straight-games.  The world No33 will now face 11th seed Samantha Teran of Mexico. 

It wasn’t all plain sailing for those on home soil however, as European Junior Under 19 champion Emily Whitlock crashed out at the hand of Maria Toor Pakay.  Ranked 35 places below Whitlock, the Pakistani 21-year-old had previously beaten Lucie Fialova in a similar upset in qualifying round one, and will now line up against World No1 and top seed Nicol David in what will no doubt be the biggest match of her career. 

Canadian Samantha Cornett also caused an upset in the qualifying finals after beating the experienced Dane, Line Hansen in four games.  Thrilled with her win, and facing the prospect of playing No4 seed Madeline Perry in the main draw, Cornett tweeted after her match: “Huge win for me today, can't wait for the toughest match of my career so far tomorrow!”

Egypt’s first round numbers were strengthened by the inclusion of world No27, Heba El Torky who overcame Joshna Chinappa of India in feisty four-game battle.  El Torky will face Australian Donna Urquhart in round one. 

Latasha Khan eased her way through to the main draw after experienced wins over Tesni Evans of Wales and Kylie Lindsay of New Zealand.  Despite a 66-minute battle with Evans on Sunday afternoon, the WSA tour veteran showed little sign of fatigue as she took just 24-minutes to dispatch Lindsay and begin preparations for her round one match with third seed Laura Massaro

Finally, there was mixed news for the French players as Coline Aumard came from a game behind to beat Siyoli Waters of South Africa, although national compatriot Laura Pompartes succumbed to defeat after a slow start against experienced Swiss, Gaby Huber.  Aumard will face New Zealand international and 12th seed Joelle King, whilst Huber faces No7 seed Annie Au of Hong Kong. 

Play continues at St Georges Hill this afternoon from midday, before moving to the O2 Arena on Wednesday to showcase the rest of the tournament.

 

 

English Stars Aiming To Fly High at Allam British Open

English squash stars Jenny Duncalf and Laura Massaro aim to fly high at the Allam British Open next week. And they certainly have a head for heights after playing the most unusual game of squash ever - on board the London Eye!

The two England team-mates donned their playing kit for a photocall above the city of London, and couldn't resist hitting a ball against the glass pods more than 400 feet in the air.

Number two seed Duncalf said: "It was definitely the strangest place I have ever played a game of squash, with such an amazing backdrop as you looked across the River Thames to the Houses of Parliament.

"Laura and I both enjoyed the experience. It was a lot of fun. We are both delighted to see the British Open back on the calendar after an absence of two years."

The 28-year-old world number two from Harrogate added: "The players are certainly grateful to Dr Allam and England Squash for not only reviving the tournament but bringing it back at such a strong level, with significant prize money and ranking points on offer.

"But regardless of that, the title is one that I really want to win. I got to the final against Nicol David in Liverpool and I want to go one better this time.

"My fitness has been a bit up and down this year but in the last few weeks I have tried to get more consistency in my training and played lots of matches during the European Team Championships in Germany last week.

"I am feeling good physically and am in the best shape I have been all year."

She added: "All the players are looking forward to it and it should be a really exciting event at the O2 Arena. I used to go and watch the British Open as a child in places like Cardiff and I always dreamed of winning the title one day."

The women's first round takes place at the luxurious St George's Hill club in Weybridge before moving to the O2 Arena from the second round onwards.

England team-mate Massaro suffered a slight scare earlier this week when she tweaked a calf muscle while playing for St George's in the Premier Squash League final against the resurgent Alison Waters, from Surrey Health and Racquets, who has been awarded the wild card at the British Open.

After a short injury break, Massaro returned to court to complete a 3/1 victory. That result provided revenge after Waters had beaten her in the semi-finals of the recent Irish Open.

Massaro, the world number four from Preston, said: "I really wanted to win for the club, and to get my revenge for Ireland."

She added: "It was a bit of a shock when the injury happened midway through the second game. It suddenly went into spasm. I couldn't really concentrate properly for a bit, then managed to ignore it and focus on the squash."

Massaro enjoys a good record against Malaysian world champion David, who is bidding for a fourth British Open title.

Massaro beat her twice last year, in the US Open and Cleveland Classic, and, like Duncalf, it would be a dream come true if she could repeat that result in the British Open.

David Looks Ahead To The Return Of The British Open

World No1 Nicol David will be looking to add title number 61 to her WSA haul next week as she and the world’s top stars head to the WSA World Series $95K Allam British Open Championships at the O2 Arena in London, England from the 15-20 May. 

Malaysia’s six–time World Open champion will have the chance to equal current British Open champion Rachael Grinham’s four titles, if she can replicate the form that saw her lift the ATCO World Series Finals in London in January

Rachel Grinham is the third most successful player in British Open history, having won the title in 2003, 2004 and 2007 and most recently in 2009, after which the event suffered a two-year absence from both the WSA and PSA calendars. 

However, both players have some work to do to catch the most successful British Open winners, Susan Devoy and Michelle Martin.  Former New Zealand international Devoy won eight British Open events between 1984-92, and Martin won six titles in the mid-90’s. 

Hoping to close the gap on these legends of the women’s game, David is looking forward to the challenge of competing in the rejuvenated tournament. 

“This year's British Open is going to be a spectacular event, especially as it is held in London during the Olympic year.  Everyone is also very pleased that the tournament is back on again after 2 years out of the WSA World Tour circuit.  It'll be the biggest British Open I'll ever be participating in as the title sponsor Allam has raised the prize money for the WSA to make it a top tier World Series event.

“The O2 Arena is going to be the highlight of this tournament and I'm sure all the players are looking forward to play in this amazing set up coming into the later stages of the event.”

Top seed David and sixth seed Grinham feature in the same half of the draw, and could face each other in the quarter final. David plays a qualifier to open her bid for the title, while Rachel will face England’s Emma Beddoes in the first round of the event.

British hopes will be shouldered by number two seed Jenny Duncalf who faces Delia Arnold of Malaysia, whilst third seed Laura Massaro will face an as yet unknown qualifier.  Attention will also be focussed on another home hope, the former world number three and in-form wildcard entrant Alison Waters, who is currently enjoying a three consecutive tournament unbeaten streak.  Waters, coming back from a long-term injury, lines up against 13th seed Low Wee Wern.

WSA Chairman Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer has spoken of her delight at the return of the ‘Wimbledon of Squash’ to the WSA World Tour calendar: “Thanks to Mr Allam and England Squash’s determination to resurrect this prestigious event, we will again see some fierce competition for one of the most coveted titles of them all.  The WSA are proud to field all of their top players, representing over ten nations, with an eclectic mix of experience and youth”.

The journey to the WSA Allam British Open title begins at the renowned St Georges Hill Country Club for the hotly contested qualifying rounds, as well as the first round draws, to be held over the 13-15th May, before moving to the O2 arena in the heart of London. 

 1st round – 15th May 2012

[1] Nicol David (MAS) v Qualifier
[11] Samantha Teran (MEX) v Qualifier
[6] Rachael Grinham (AUS) v Emma Beddoes (ENG)
[12] Joelle King (NZL) v Qualifier
[3] Laura Massaro (ENG) v Qualifier
[9] Natalie Grinham (NED) v Qualifier
[8] Kasey Brown (AUS) v Jaclyn Hawkes (NZL)
[10] Camille Serme (FRA) v Sarah Kippax (ENG)
[13] Low Wee Wern (MAS) v Alison Waters (ENG)
[7] Annie Au (HKG) v Qualifier
[16] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v Joey Chan (HKG)
[4] Madeline Perry (IRL) v Qualifier
[14] Dipika Pallikal (IND) vOmneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
[5] Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v Amanda Sobhy (USA)
[15] Donna Urquhart (AUS) v Qualifier
[2] Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Delia Arnold (MAS)