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Matthew new Champion after epic win

British Nationals 2006



Matthew new
Champion after epic win

Nick Matthew is the new National Champion. He won a pulsating final against the titleholder Lee Beachill that fluctuated wildly and was in doubt until the final ball.


Matthew, driving authoritatively and hunting down every opportunity to apply pressure on the volley grabbed enough possession of the T to set up the opportunities to attack in the first game. Beachill however led 9-8 but having survived a gruelling 83 minute semi-final against James Willstrop he had to ration his energy resources carefully and look to finish the rallies when chances arose. Two marginal errors at the end of the game as he sort to find those winning shots early gave the advantage to his opponent, who had the benefit of the early bounciness of the ball. Matthew took opening game 11-9.


The structure of Matthew's played fell apart in the second as he sort to push home his advantage and Beachill scored seven points in a hand, largely on his opponent's errors, to level 11-6.


Beachill fell behind 6-0 at the start of the third, his concentration distracted in a minor mix-up, but saved four game balls before luck deserted him on a clinging ball he could only scrap of the wall to concede a stroke.


Beachill started the fourth with more urgency, blending lobs, pressure and shots superbly to go 6-3 up, but fell into error to lose the advantage and just came out on top in a mad point for point struggle in engrossing rallies of brilliant shots and desperate retrieving to level 12-10.


In the fifth both players were tired but the retrieving was at times unbelievable, the shots cut-throat and incisive. A stunning nick off service had turned the fourth Beachill's way and again his struck with it to take the initiative. A brutal rally, in which he just hung on and lobbed and scrapped cost him deadly was Matthew the torturer worked him all over the court. Vital last reserves were spent as Matthew won 6-7 with an outstanding forehand drop. A stunning nick of serve gave Beachill  the advantage again and he won through to matchball 10-6. The title seemed his again.


Matthew however was not finished. A miss hit helped him, a stroke, an all or nothing drop. The balls rolled down the ball and where smashed away on the volley. Openings were desperately sort. Matthew came back to 9-10 as Beachill was spent, bent double. A brilliant forehand volley drop, that Beachill disputed but failed to clear saved the challenger his fourth matchball, a tin was clipped and a volley boast just spun out of Beachill's reach.


Beachill had been so close to a fourth title but Matthew was the new champion with a 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10 win over 105 minutes.



Bailey back from the Wilderness

Tania Bailey, the former world no.4, who has been in the wilderness for 3 years recovering from a viral illness that has plagued her career, bounced back to win the National title in Manchester. In the final she beat the titleholder Linda Elriani 9-7, 6-9, 9-6, 9-3 over 76 minutes.


It was a close fought contest with Bailey taking the first 9-7 and surging ahead 6-0 in the second but as the ball cooled Elriani with her fine lobs and high clinging drives kept the ball out of her opponent's reach and with some fine shots came back in three hands to level the game scores 10-8.


The third game was pivotal. Elriani went ahead 6-3 but a series of errors let Bailey level in a hand. She is a strong player and chased her opponent's shots down impressively. Tactically she has developed a new maturity and did not flinch as Elriani's lobs rained down on her. An error forced with a clinging ball and two winners gave her a sudden breakthrough in the long battle and she took the game 9-6.


In the fourth she was away to 5-0 promptly and now had the confidence to deal more severely with Elriani as the challenge faded.

Tickets for the National Squash Championships are available from TicketMaster on 0870-602 1188 or via the website.
Championships Schedule 

Sun 05 Feb          1200         1st qualifying round

Mon 06 Feb          1200         2nd and final qualifying rounds

Tue 07 Feb           1200         Men’s 1st round

      “                   1200         Women’s 2nd and final qualifying rounds

Wed 08 Feb         1200         Men’s 2nd round

      “                   1200         Women’s 1st round

Thu 09 Feb           1800         Men’s Quarter-finals

      “                   1800         Women’s Quarter-finals

Fri 10 Feb            1800         Men’s Quarter-finals

      “                   1800         Women’s Quarter-finals

Sat 11 Feb           1300         Men’s Semi-finals

      “                   1300         Women’s Semi-finals

Sun 12 Feb          1500         Women’s Final

       “                  1700         Men’s Final

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crilliant recovery to save four matchballs at end of epic match gives Matthew National title.

Peter Nicol goes out to Matthew in semi-final.

Beachill is thrilled to survive in semi-final and against Willstrop to make his sixth final.

Top seed Willstrop goes out in semi-final.

Above: England's
World Team Champions reunited for the
first time since Nicol, Willstrop, Beachill and  Matthew won the World Team Championships title for England in Pakistan in December

Top seed in the women's event Vicky Botwright withdraws with Injured Ankle
British Nationals 2006
Men's Draw
Revised 3rd February as 14th seed Alister Walker withdraws making way for Daryl Selby
First Round
Second Round
[1] James Willstrop
11/6, 11/7, 11/9(30m)
 Scott Handley
James Willstrop
11-10 (2-0), 11-5, 11-1 (34m)
Phil Barker
James Willstrop
11-8, 11-5,
11-5 (34m)
Joey Barrington
James Willstrop
11-5, 8-11, 3-11, 11-5, 11-8.
Lee Beachill
Lee Beachill
11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10
Nick Matthew
[14] Phil Barker
11/6, 11/8, 11/7 (31m)
[Q]David Barnett
[8] Joey Barrington
11/10(2-0), 11/3, 11/3 (30m)
[Q] Shawn Le Roux
Joey Barrington
11-5, 11-0, 9-11, 4-11, 11-9 (85m)
Daryl Selby
[16] Daryl Selby
11/9, 11/4, 3/11, 11/8 (44m) 
[Q] Chris Simpson
[3] Lee Beachill
11/2, 11/0 rtd (11m)
Hadrian Stiff 
Lee Beachill
5-11, 11-4, 11-0, 11-5 (39m)
Nick Taylor
Lee Beachill
11-9, 11-6, 11-5
Adrian Grant
[11] Nick Taylor
8/11, 11/8, 8/11, 11/6, 11/9 (62m)
Andrew Whipp
[7] Adrian Grant
11/3, 11/6, 11/2 36m)
Alex Stait
Adrian Grant
11-9, 8-11, 11-4, 11-2 (62m)
Stephen Meads
[12] Stephen Meads
11/5, 11/7, 11/ (31m)
[LL] Jaymie Haycocks
Peter Billson
11/5, 11/13, 11/2, 11/7 (36m)
Phil Rushworth
Peter Billson
11-5, 11-8, 11-6 (32m)
Alex Gough
Alex Gough
14-12, 11-4, 11-3
Nick Matthew
Nick Matthew
11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9
Peter Nicol
[5] Alex Gough
11/5, 11/7, 11/9 (45m)
[Q] Joel Hinds
[10] Simon Parke
 11/7, 11/8, 8/11, 11/6 (52m)
[Q] Tom Richards
Simon Parke
10-11 (2-4), 11-4, 11-7, 11-3 (66m)
Nick Matthew
[4] Nick Matthew
 11/1, 11/5, 11/4 (25m)
 [Q] Martin Gibson   
Tim Vail
 8/11, 11/9, 11/8, 11/8 (50m)
 [13] Ben Garner   
Tim Vail
7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6 (51m)
Pete Barker
Pete Barker
11-9, 11-5, 11-7

Peter Nicol

[6] Pete Barker
11/1, 11/8, 11/8(38m)
 Laurence Delasaux    

[15] Peter Genever
 12/10, 11/5, 11/7, 11/4 (58m)
[Q] Kristen Johnson  
Peter Genever
11-9, 11-5, 11-7 (36m)
Peter Nicol
[2] Peter Nicol
 10/12, 11/5, 11/6, 11/6 (44m)
 [Q] Ben Ford  


Qualifying finals:

David Barnett (Northumbria) bt Jaymie Haycocks (Shropshire) 10-11 (3-5), 11-9, 6-11, 11-4, 11-4 (57m)

Kristen Johnson (Scotland) bt Nick Wall (Yorks) 11-3, 11-3, 11-4 (27m)

Chris Simpson (Hants) bt Tom Pashley (Sussex) 11-3, 11-7, 11-8 (36m)

Joel Hinds (Derbyshire) bt Phil Rushworth (Yorks) 11-7, 11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (5-3) (53m)

Tom Richards (Surrey) bt Jonathan Tate (Northumbria) 11-4, 11-5, 6-11, 11-8 (39m)

Ben Ford (Kent) bt Jethro Binns (Wales) 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (38m)

Martin Gibson (Lincs) bt Jonathan Harford (Glos) 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (32m)

Shaun le Roux (Yorks) bt Sam Miller (Warwicks) 11-4, 11-9, 8-11, 10-5 ret. (52m)


Men's 2nd qualifying round:

David Barnett (Northumbria) bt Thomas Phipps (Bucks) 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (29m)

Jaymie Haycocks (Shropshire) bt Kris Meadows (Suffolk) 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 (22m)

Nick Wall (Yorks) bt Stephen Siviter (Merseyside) 11-5, 11-8, 10-11 (1-3), 11-8 (37m)

Kristen Johnson (Scotland) bt Philip Nightingale (Surrey) 10-11 (0-2), 11-6, 11-8, 11-6 (49m)

Chris Simpson (Hants) bt James Snell (Devon) 11-6, 4-11, 11-3, 11-4 (40m)

Tom Pashley (Sussex) bt Asa Morris (Cambs) 11-3, 11-2, 11-3 (27m)

Phil Rushworth (Yorks) bt Nick Douglas (Notts) w/o

Joel Hinds (Derbyshire) bt Nicholas Bradley (Warwicks) 11-10 (2-0), 11-9, 11-4 (28m)

Jonathan Tate (Northumbria) bt Adrian Waller (Herts) 7-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9 (77m)

Tom Richards (Surrey) bt Michael Waight (Cheshire) 11-10 (4-2), 11-3, 11-3 (21m)

Jethro Binns (Wales) bt Michael Pearson (Lancs) 11-5, 11-6, 11-8 (29m)

Ben Ford (Kent) bt Joe Lee (Surrey) 11-5, 11-9, 11-5 (40m)

Martin Gibson (Lincs) bt Oliver Clay (Leics) 11-7, 7-11, 11-7, 11-9 (39m)

Jonathan Harford (Glos) bt Christopher Hall (Surrey) 11-7, 11-6, 3-11, 6-11, 11-7 (69m)

Shaun le Roux (Yorks) bt Will Newnham (Sussex) 11-9, 11-9, 11-7 (27m)

Sam Miller (Warwicks) bt Lewis Walters (Notts) 11-7, 11-2, 11-5 (29m)

Men's 1st qualifying round:

Thomas Phipps (Bucks) bt Edward Charlton (Notts)   11-7, 11-10 (2-0), 11-6 (30m)

Kris Meadows (Suffolk) bt Will Hoy (Essex)                 11-5, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6 (32m)

Stephen Siviter (Merseyside) bt Chris Clarke (Lancs) 11-5, 11-3, 11-7 (21m)

Kristen Johnson (Scotland) bt Chris Truswell (Staffs) 11-8, 11-7, 11-7 (35m)

Philip Nightingale (Surrey) bt James Earles (Yorks)    11-5, 11-4, 11-2 (21m)

James Snell (Devon) bt Chris Tasker-Grindley (Glos) 11-9, 11-7, 11-6 (37m)

Tom Pashley (Sussex) bt Stuart Crawford (Scotland) 7-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6 (53m)

Asa Morris (Cambs) bt Andrew Cross (Durham)         9-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5 (42m)

Phil Rushworth (Yorks) bt Nathan Langley (Cheshire)             11-10 (2-0), 11-6, 11-6 (37m)

Joel Hinds (Derbyshire) bt Jamie Matthews (Surrey) 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 (18m)

Nicholas Bradley (Warwicks) bt Neil Desai (Surrey)    11-3, 11-10 (3-1), 11-7 (27m)

Adrian Waller (Herts) bt Luke Vaggars (Cornwall)      11-6, 11-5, 11-8 (24m)

Jonathan Tate (Northumbria) bt Rory Pennell (Essex)             11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (28m)

Michael Waight (Cheshire) bt Nick Murrills (Cheshire) 11-10 (2-0), 8-11, 11-7, 11-10 (2-0) (43m)

Michael Pearson (Lancs) bt Alex Phillips (Hants)         11-7, 11-7, 11-8 (26m)

Joe Lee (Surrey) bt Oliver Pett (Sussex)                     11-2, 11-10 (4-2), 11-10 (2-0) (36m)

Oliver Clay (Leics) bt Tom Power (Bucks)                    11-8, 11-8, 11-10 (2-0) (30m)

Martin Gibson (Lincs) bt Adam Murrills (Cheshire)       11-10 (2-0), 11-10 (2-0), 3-11, 11-10 (2-0) (40m)

Christopher Hall (Surrey) bt Jim Bristow (Devon)        11-5, 11-3, 11-4 (39m)

Will Newnham (Sussex) bt Paul Rawden (Surrey)      11-10 (2-0), 11-4, 11-10 (2-0) (28m)

Shaun le Roux (Yorks) bt Geoff Taylor (Cheshire)       11-5, 11-4, 11-8 (23m

British Nationals 2006
Women's Draw
Revised 5th February as top seed Vicky Botwright withdraws with a foot injury
Round One Quarters Semis Final
[2] Tania Bailey
 9-1, 9-2, 9-1 (30m)
Suzie Pierrepont
Tania Bailey
9-1, 9-0, 9-0 (22m)
Becky Botwright
Tania Bailey
9-2, 9-0, 7-9, 9-6
Alison Waters
Tania Bailey
10-8, 1-9, 9-2, 9-6
Linda Elriani
[8] Becky Botwright
9-4, 2-9, 9-5, 10-9 (50m)
[Q] Georgina Stoker
[4] Alison Waters
9-0, 9-0, 9-4 (19m)
 [Q] Lauren Siddall
Alison Waters
9-5, 9-5, 10-8
 Dominique Lloyd-Walter
[7] Dominique Lloyd-Walter
9-0, 9-1, 9-4 (25m)
 Jenna Gates
[6] Stephanie Brind
 9-6, 9-4, 9-7 (36m)
 Laura Hill
Laura Hill
9-7, 9-1, 2-9, 9-7
Jenny Duncalf
Jenny Duncalf
8-10, 9-1, 2-9, 6-9
Linda Elriani 
[3] Jenny Duncalf
9-4, 9-3, 9-3 (29m)
Sarah Kippax
[5] Laura-Jane Lengthorn
9-5, 9-0, 9-6 (25m)  
[Q] Kirsty McPhee
 Laura-Jane Lengthorn
9-3, 9-5, 4-9, 9-4
Linda Elriani 
[1] Linda Elriani
 9-2, 9-0, 9-4 (27m)
[Q] Laura Mylotte

Qualifying Finals:
Laura Mylotte
bt Amina Helal 3/9, 8/10, 9/3, 9/6, 10/9 (57m)
Kirsty McPhee bt Rachel Willmott 9/5, 9/0, 9/0 (19m)
Georgina Stoker bt Deon Saffery 9/5, 6/9, 7/9, 10/9, 9/5 (64m)
Lauren Siddall bt Jenny Wright 9/7, 9/4, 9/0 (36m)

Qualifying round two:
Laura Mylotte bt Susannah King 9/2, 9/0, 9/7  (24m)
Amina Helal bt Fiona Moverley 7/9, 9/7, 9/1, 9/0 (44m)
Kirsty McPhee bt Leonie Holt 9/0, 9/7, 6/9, 10/9 (45m)
Rachel Willmott by Emma Chorley 9/3, 10/9, 9/0 (34m)
Deon Saffery bt Tina Rix 10/8, 4/9, 9/4, 9/2 (37m)
Georgina Stoker bt Crrrie Hastings 9/3, 9/1, 9/6 (25m)
Jenny Wright bt Millie Tomlinson w/o
Lauren Siddall bt Louise Clark 9/3, 9/4, 9/1 (24m)



Semi-final day:

Matthew to face
Beachill for title

Nick Matthew, put out his squash hero, Peter Nicol 11-9, 5-11, 11-9, 11-9 in the semi-finals of the Nationals to go through and face three time champion Lee Beachill in the final. He may also move into the favourites position as Beachill, the titleholder, is short on conditioning and had a gut-wrenching five setter against his Pontefract stable-mate James Willstrop over 83 minutes.

It was all desperately close against Nicol with Matthew’s driving and volley clinching the important first 11-9. Nicol came back onto his game to level in the second and they fought point for point in the third until Matthew won a climatic rally at 8-9 – both players sprinting front to back and firing in shots until Matthew’s trickle boast gave him the initiative and momentum to take the next two points.

It was going to be desperately for Nicol to get back into it as a confident Matthew raced to an 8-2 advantage.

“I don’t think I hit one in the middle in the eight rallies,” said Matthew afterwards. “I was trying not to think of winning but at 8-2 I thought I was there and suddenly I was short of energy.

Nicol closed to 8-all but Matthew got the break he needed with a dying bounce to clutch his head in disbelief. He was in the final


Willstrop out to
Beachill in Classic


When top seed the 22-year-old James Willstrop walked on court against the player he had been bought up with, the 28 year-old, three time National Champion Lee Beachill he could have been forgiven if he thought “this is a player I’ve never beaten and I’m the top seed.” Beachill’s, was a style that he had trouble with. It closed his attacking game down and didn’t let him flow. He wanted to play attacking squash. That was his game.

It was Beachill however to got the early winners and as Willstrop tried to attack, to finish the long rallies imposed on him, he hit the tin three times on backhand drops to give his opponent a 5-1 initiaitive. Beachill, confidence up, was feeling the pace of the ball as only he does, fading his drives into the side and running his string across the ball to take the pace of it so it would die in the back. That set up the winning opportuntiies and he slotted in these in to take the important first 11-5.

“I thought I would just try to stay with him but I couldn’t believe how well I played the first,” he said.

It was a hot ball, that may have helped him, and Willstrop early mistakes that put him ahead but it did not last long. A sustained burst of pressure squash from Willstrop with winners, fine working shots and the continual use of his long reach and elastic arm kept Beachill in perpetual motion form 5-5 in the second and it took its toll. An indifferent end to 2005 by Beachill’s high standards and an exploritory knee operation from which he laboured a little to recover in January had left him short of match practice and conditioning. He was worried about lasting and struggling to find relief to the constant pressure Willstrop was subjecting him to. On the wrong end of the rallies he let the third go a little to save his reserves. Willstrop was 2/1 up and looking totally in control.

Then there was one or those little events in sport that may have been pivotal but passed almost unnoticed at the time. The ball broke in the short knock-up at the start of the fourth. A new one was proved. It was very lively, as they tend to be early on, the heating was up, for some reason, and when they started to play the ball bounced beautifully for Beachill. It sat up just a bit more, allow rallies and denied the deader ball to his opponent that he had been punished with. Beachill was revived again, energised and Willstrop was pulled out of his dominating position in the middle. Beachill took the fourth 11-5 to set up the climatic decider. Willstrop’s shots took him ahead 7-5 but a harshish stroke and a tin, he should have avoided, let Willstrop through to 9-7. It was all so close, Willstrop fell and brilliantly recovered but no matter how hard he chased he could just not get the final ball. Two winners gave it to Beachill 11-5, 8-11, 3-11, 11-5, 11-8 and he bent double with the pain of it.

Asked how he sustained his effort with so little preparation he said, “I’ve no idea.” He was into his sixth consecutive final.


Tania Bailey, made another step back to rehabilitating her career after a long illness by beating Alison Waters  9-2, 9-0, 7-9, 9-6 to win a place in the final _ the first time she has done so.


Quarters Day 2:
Civil Warfare at Nationals
All the preliminaries are over for the victorious England team to wage civil warfare at the National Championships to see who will be the champion of the world’s top playing nation. Peter Nicol won the last semi-finals against ever improving Peter Barker in straight games to go through. Suddenly it will be all on Saturday. There will be a step up in pace and pressure.

Barker played well and had chances to provide more of a threat. He is strong, and one suspects he drills well, for he was well in the rallies with Nicol but made errors at important times, where Nicol made very few and perhaps he could have exploited his openings better for Nicol made this count playing to the gap – if Barker comes away with this message he will have learnt a vital lesson.

The start may have unnerved the youngster a little. He had to wait on court will Nicol was announced .. the great … the legend … and he clapped along with everyone else. A little deference put him behind 5-1 but then it seemed as if Nicol’s focus wondered a little as Barker took advantage with some confident winners to lead 9-8 before three errors to give Nicol the game 11-9. Perhaps he was a bit too eager but those are the facts and the pattern repeated itself. He had 3-2 in the second before making three errors, and 5-3 in the third before another three whereas Nicol was errorless in each of these game.

There were just three examples of the intimidating explosive Nicol in the match but after each brilliant recovery he did not get up to retrieve the counter drop and one was left wondering if that brilliant speed had just faded slightly. Beaten on two drops from the back Nicol explained it away.

“I didn’t see them. It’s nothing to do with speed,” he said.

It was a pretty self contained performance but as with his opponents one feels that the champion must deliver a little more – it is just that at present we cannot seed where it will come from.

Matthew to face Nicol
Nick Matthew moved comfortably enough into the semis with a three set win over Welsh champion Alex Gough after surviving a real fight in the first which basically decided the match. Driving and volleying with some authority, with smooth powerful movement he survived Gough’s tricky improvisation, topspin forehands and prodded volleys to win game ball 10-8. An easy opening on the forehand beckoned, Gough gave up on his running and as it was almost a formality Matthew, almost indifferent, eased up on the drop, and the under paced ball fell on the tin. He had to pay a small penalty for that casualness but survived a game ball in anxious moments before taking the initiative 14-12.

“That first game was long and brutal. It could have gone either way and I sneaked it,” he said later. “After that it was going to be very hard for him.”

Gough’s frequent crosscourting and improvised looseness was not going to get him back into the game and provided a fine workout for the fourth seed.

“I’m hitting it well and happy with my movement,” said Matthew. “I have also have a few sessions with David Pearson (National coach) last week for the first time since Christmas and that has helped.”

Matthew points out that the semi-finals, if Peter Nicol goes through, could be contested between England’s World Championship winning team. He was in fine form here but there was not too much of a clue as to how he would go against Peter Nicol. He has beaten him once in the Super Series Finals in 2004, when Nicol was not at his best, but he knows he can do it.

In the women’s event Laura Hill played even temperedly to trouble the third seed Jenny Duncalf going close in the first 9-7, coming back to take the second and again putting up a fight in the third to go down over 57 minutes 9-7, 1-9, 9-2, 9-7. Duncalf was able to outpower her in the end but will be looking for improvement if she is to threaten for the title.
Quarters: Day 1:

The first day of the split quarter-finals at the Nationals was a subdued affair with everything ending up as it should. James Willstrop, the top seed on form, overcame a plucky performance from Joey Barrington making his first outing at this level.

“It was a tough ask for him after a horrendous match yesterday,” said James of his opponent who had contrived to collapse from a seemingly indominatable 11-5, 11-0 lead over Daryl Selby and was fortunate to escape 11-9 in the fifth. Not ideal preparation if you want to put your running shoes on the next day against one of the sports top shot makers and so it proved.

“After the first game he dropped off,” said Willstrop. “I played as hard as I could to get him to that stage.”

There was not much Barrington the younger could do about it. This was his first outing in the quarters. He is a late starter, not having played as a junior and amazingly having just got into squash when he was a 20 year old student. He is still getting better but will have to take his chances a bit better than he did here if he is going to worry the Willstrop’s of this world.

It was a nice workout for Willstrop, who got all his shots working well and will be able to go into the semi-finals fresh and in tune.

That semi will be one to savour. Willstrop, British Open finalist, World Open semi-finals, winner in Qatar, top seed for the Nationals, has never beaten his Pontefract stablemate Lee Beachill.

Beachill went through against a jaded Adrian Grant, who reportedly had just 7 hours sleep in 3 days in a convoluted return journey from the Virginia Pro, in Richmond, via Chicago, scene of his Windy City outing and into Manchester. He was however able to get a bit of kip on court against Beachill as the three time champion got his wished for step up in form to set up the Pontefract clash on Saturday.

In the women’s quarters, Tania Bailey showed little mercy to Becky Botwright to set up a rematch against Alison Waters whom she beat in the British Open. Both have no reason to not play well. Waters was perhaps a little patchy and it took a little burst to comeback against her old Middlesex rival Dominique Lloyd-Walter when down 5-7 in the third but she found the edge she had and saw the match out 9-5, 9-5, 10-8.

Lloyd-Walter generally rallied tight and well in the 48 minute encounter but needed just a bit more pressure or finish to really disrupt Waters and even when she had the initiative at the end of the third could not quite find it to extend the match.

Willstrop & Beachill To Contest Nationals Semi-Finals
Yorkshire club-mates James Willstrop and Lee Beachill will meet in Saturday's semi-finals of the British National Squash Championships in a repeat of last year's final at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester.

The Pontefract pair came through tonight's (Thursday) quarter-finals in straight games, top seed Willstrop beating eighth seed Joey Barrington, from Somerset, and third seed Beachill, the defending champion, overcoming Kent's seventh seed Adrian Grant.

In the women's quarter-finals, Lincolnshire's No2 seed
Tania Bailey crushed local favourite Rebecca Botwright, the eighth seed from Manchester, for the loss of just a single point, while fourth-seeded Londoner Alison Waters beat her Middlesex county team-mate Dominique Lloyd-Walter, the seventh seed, 9-5 9-5 10-8 in 48 minutes.

It was nip and tuck in the first game of the first men's quarter-final with little separating the pair until favourite Willstrop took three successive points from eight-all to win the game.

After both players were advised by their fathers in the break between games – James by noted coach Malcolm Willstrop and Joey by the legendary six-times British Open champion Jonah Barrington – the top seed came back to face his opponent who had survived an 85-minute marathon second round match less than 24 hours earlier.

At 1-2 down in the third game, Willstrop reeled off nine points in a row to reach match ball, before winning 11-8 11-5 11-3 in 34 minutes.

"He was clearly just that little bit off the pace after his match last night," said Willstrop.  "That makes such a difference – and I know as I've been there myself a number of times!

"But you can't give Joey an inch – give him a sniff and he'll get encouraged," added the 22-year-old.

Barrington junior had a different view of the game: "I've only played on that glass court four times before - and it's so different from the conventional courts I'm used to. 

"But James played well – he's one of the most consistent of the top players.  Hopefully I'll be playing these guys more often – that's the level I aspire to," added the 26-year-old.

Jonah Barrington agreed that Willstrop is now looking like a complete player – 'as if he was born on a glass court'.

"James plays with the confidence of someone who's made his imprint over the last two years at the highest level of the game.  He looks the part," said the 1980 National champion.

Less than 24 hours after acknowledging that 'drastic improvements' were needed in his game, it was a more assured performance from Lee Beachill that took the three-times champion to an 11-9 11-6 11-5 win over left-hander Grant in 45 minutes.

"I feel I have made some improvements since yesterday – but getting on that glass court also made a big difference," conceded Beachill, the 28-year-old former world number one.

Asked how he felt about playing his good friend Willstrop in the eagerly-anticipated semi-final, Beachill said:  "Everybody always puts massive pressure on us when we're due to meet – perhaps it's because I'm one of the few people he's never beaten.

"But it's two days away - and I'm sure he and I feel the same way, that we hope it's a good match."

Since arriving in Manchester direct from Virginia in the USA, where he reached a PSA Tour semi-final last Saturday, Grant admitted that he has only had seven hours sleep in three days.

"I just haven't been able to have any rest since the event in the US, and didn't feel good going into the match today.  I've never been in this position before - usually I've been able to refresh myself mentally and physically.  There's only so much the body can take," said the Londoner.

In the first women's quarter-final, Manchester's Rebecca Botwright admitted that she was "on the back foot for most of the match" as she went down 9-1 9-0 9-0 to second seed Tania Bailey.

Back in the semi-finals for the first time since 2003, Bailey has been plagued with injuries for the past few years – but now believes these troubles are finally behind her.  "It's the first time I've been able to train as hard as I used to – and it's really paying off," said the 26-year-old from Stamford in Lincolnshire.


Men's Round Two

Champion Beachill Admits Need For 'Drastic Improvements'

A disappointed defending champion Lee Beachill came off court after his second round win in the British National Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre in Manchester today (Wednesday) and conceded that 'drastic improvements' were needed to his game.

Beachill, who won the title for the third time last year, dropped the first game against retired former tour player Nick Taylor – now head coach at the National Centre – and eventually scrambled to a 5-11 11-4 11-0 11-5 win after 39 minutes.

"I started poorly and Nick began well – he deserved that first game," said the 28-year-old Yorkshireman afterwards. "I was pretty disappointed with my performance - I didn't feel at all relaxed. The only plus point is that I won.

"Having had such a short game yesterday, perhaps this was just what I needed today."

Beachill, who underwent exploratory knee surgery in early January, is playing in his first tournament since the Saudi International in December. When asked how he felt about the prospects of becoming the first player in history to reach the men's final for a sixth successive year, the third seed pronounced: "If I get through this tournament with my knee unscathed, I'll be happy.

"But I'll have to drastically improve on my performance if I'm going to get anywhere near the final," said the England international.

Top-seeded Yorkshireman James Willstrop also started slowly against Phillip Barker, the 14th seed from Essex. Beachill's Pontefract club-mate saved five game balls fighting back from 5-10 down in the first game – but, after winning the game on a tie-break, cruised to an 11-10 11-5 11-1 victory in 34 minutes.

"I did really well to win that first game," said 22-year-old Willstrop later. "I think it got to him physically – but I knew that if I'd lost the first, I just needed to keep plugging away."

The 6' 5" Yorkshireman will face Somerset's eighth seed Joey Barrington, son of the legendary six-times British Open champion Jonah Barrington who won this title in 1980 - at the age of 39!

Joey showed the dogged persistence of his father after his 2/0 lead was eliminated by Essex opponent Daryl Selby – and he was then forced to fight from behind throughout the decider only to lead for the first time when he converted match-ball to win 11-5 11-0 9-11 4-11 11-9 after an 85-minute marathon.

A gritty all-Yorkshire battle for a place in the quarter-finals took place between Leeds-based Simon Parke, the 33-year-old 10th seed and a former champion, and Nick Matthew, the 25-year-old from Sheffield who is seeded to reach the semi-finals for the second time in a row.

Parke, now head coach at the Heaton club in Bradford, clinched the 31-minute first game after a 4-2 tie-break, then was on the defensive for most of the next three games before going down 10-11 11-4 11-7 11-3 in 66 minutes in his first loss to Matthew since September 2003.

When asked if the match hinged on Matthew's superior fitness, Parke said: "That's partly true, but you must give Nick credit for his improvements in terms of accuracy over the past year or so."

The former world No3 acknowledged that his international career "took a bit of a dip" when he took up his coaching job. "But eight months later, I think I've found the balance and it's showing in my results.

"I still feel I've got a lot of energy in me – and even if I decide to retire from the PSA, I'll still play the BSPA circuit and events like the Nationals," added the three-times finalist.

There was an upset in the women's event when unseeded Derbyshire fire-fighter Laura Hill beat sixth seed Stephanie Brind, a former No4 from Kent who plans to join the police force, 9-6 9-4 9-7 in 36 minutes.

"I knew it was going to be tough – but I really wanted that win," said the 29-year-old from Duffield.

Hill moves through to the quarter-finals where she will face Yorkshire's third seed Jenny Duncalf on the all-glass show court at the National Squash Centre.

"I've played on a glass court before – but nothing like this," said Hill on the eve of her first Nationals' quarter-final.

Boosted by the withdrawal of her top-seeded sister Vicky Botwright, Manchester's Rebecca Botwright came through her first match as a seed in the tournament when she beat Merseyside qualifier Georgina Stoker 9-4 2-9 9-5 10-9 in the women's first round.

"I made quite a few errors and Georgina took full advantage," said the 24-year-old later. "I was quite nervous, but having Vicky in my corner between games was a big help.


Willstrop Workout Earns Favourite First Round Win In Manchester

The "good workout" that he wanted earned Yorkshire favourite James Willstrop a comfortable first round win in today's (Tuesday) British National Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester.


The 22-year-old from Pontefract, ranked six in the world, is top seed in the event for the first time - and 'enjoying the pressure'.


"The first game of an event is always a bit weird, and it's always good to get the first win out of the way so that you can then relax into the event," said the former world junior champion who led England to success in December's World Team Championships in Pakistan.


Willstrop beat 31-year-old Scott Handley, a former world No41 from Oxfordshire, 11-6 11-7 11-9 in 30 minutes and now faces Essex's 14th seed Phillip Barker for a place in the last eight.


Defending men's champion Lee Beachill dropped just four points in his 11-minute victory over Devon's Hadrian Stiff.  The title-holder's opponent was not only Stiff by name, but also stiff by nature, as he conceded the match after just two games, suffering with a 'stiff back'!


Beachill might have preferred a more testing introduction to the tournament in which he has reached the final for the past five years, winning three times.  Willstrop's Pontefract club-mate underwent exploratory knee surgery early in the new year and has only been able to train properly for the past week.


"I'm hitting the ball well, but I just haven't had any matches recently – and there's no substitute for that," said the 28-year-old third seed who is aiming to become the first player in history to each the final six years in a row.


Nick Taylor, a former runner-up from Manchester who is now the head coach at the NSC, came out on top in a popular local derby against Stockport's Andrew Whipp, winning 8-11 11-8 8-11 11-6 11-7 in 62 minutes.


"It's amazing, this event really lifts my game," said 34-year-old Taylor.


A clash between Premier League club team-mates Ben Garner and Tim Vail provided the only upset of the day when Vail, the Team Chichester third string, beat team number one Garner, the event's 13th seed, 8-11 11-9 11-8 11-8 in 50 minutes.  Vail, 28, from Chichester will now meet sixth seed Peter Barker, from Essex, for a place in the quarter-finals.


The women's qualifying finals produced two evenly-contested matches in which the eventual winners recovered from match balls down to earn places in the main draw.  Ireland's Stockport-based Laura Mylotte fought back from 0/2 down, then saved three match balls in the decider, to beat Manchester's Amina Helal 3-9 8-10 9-3 9-6 10-9.  Mylotte's reward is a first round meeting with top seed and defending champion Linda Elriani.


Georgina Stoker recovered from 1/2 down against Yorkshire's Deon Saffery and then saved two match balls in the fourth game before going on to win 9-5 6-9 7-9 10-9 9-5 in 65 minutes.  The 20-year-old from Merseyside will now take on local player Rebecca Botwright, the eighth seed from Manchester.



Ford Gets Wish Granted In National Championships In Manchester 

Kent No2 Ben Ford cruised through two qualifying rounds in the British National Squash Championships at Sportcity today (Monday), then had his wish granted.

The 30-year-old from Welling had earlier told the event's official website that if he qualified, he hoped he'd play Peter Nicol, the double Commonwealth Games gold medallist who is the event's second seed.

Ford beat Surrey's British Junior U17 Open runner-up Joe Lee 11-5 11-9 11-5, and Welshman Jethro Binns 11-9 11-7 11-6 in the qualifying finals – and was then drawn to meet Nicol in today's first round match at the National Squash Centre.

Peter Nicol is seeded to reach the final for the fourth time since winning the first of his two titles ten years ago.  The 32-year-old from London is expected to face Manchester favourite James Willstrop in Sunday's final.  Willstrop, top seed for the first time, begins his campaign against Oxfordshire's Scott Handley.

Updated men's first round draw:

[1] James Willstrop (Yorks) v Scott Handley (Oxon)

[14] Phillip Barker (Essex) v [Q] David Barnett (Northumbria)

[8] Joey Barrington (Somerset) v [Q] Shaun le Roux (Yorks)

[16] Daryl Selby (Essex) v [Q] Chris Simpson (Hants)

[3] Lee Beachill (Yorks) v Hadrian Stiff (Devon)

[11] Nick Taylor (Lancs) v Andrew Whipp (Cheshire)

[7] Adrian Grant (Kent) v Alex Stait (Glos)

[12] Stephen Meads (Berks) v Jaymie Haycocks (Shrops)

Phil Rushworth (Yorks) v Peter Billson (Lancs)

[5] Alex Gough (Wales) v [Q] Joel Hinds (Derbyshire)

[10] Simon Parke (Yorks) v [Q] Tom Richards (Surrey)

[4] Nick Matthew (Yorks) v [Q] Martin Gibson (Lincs)

[13] Ben Garner (Surrey) v Tim Vail (Sussex)

[6] Peter Barker (Essex) v Laurence Delasaux (Yorks)

[15] Peter Genever (Sussex) v [Q] Kristen Johnson (Scotland)

[2] Peter Nicol (Yorks) v [Q] Ben Ford (Kent)


Favourite Botwright Out Of Nationals

Top women's seed Vicky Botwright, the world No5 from Manchester, has been forced to withdraw from this week's British National Squash Championships after aggravating a foot injury in a WISPA World Tour event in the USA last week.


The championships get underway at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester on Tuesday (7 February).


"I'm very sorry and extremely gutted that I am forced to pull out of the Nationals," said the 28-year-old in a message on the event's official website


"I have a foot/heel problem that got worse when I was playing in New York at the weekend.


"I am having treatment on the injury, and while I would love to be a trooper and push through for myself and the Manchester supporters, I am being sensible and thinking ahead for the events that I have in the Commonwealth Games which is my main focus."


Sussex's defending champion Linda Elriani takes over the title as top seed, with Lincolnshire's Tania Bailey elevated to second seed. 


The Botwright family's disappointment at Vicky's withdrawal will no doubt be tempered by the news that younger sister Rebecca Botwright is now promoted to a seeded position in the revised draw.  The 24-year-old becomes the No8 seed and will now face a qualifier in the first round.


Revised women's 1st round draw:

[2] Tania Bailey (Lincs) v Suzie Pierrepont (Sussex)

[8] Rebecca Botwright (Lancs) v Qualifier

[4] Alison Waters (Middx) v Qualifier

[7] Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Middx) v Jenna Gates (Sussex)

[6] Stephanie Brind (Kent) v Laura Hill (Derbyshire)

[3] Jenny Duncalf (Yorks) v Sarah Kippax (Cheshire)

[5] Laura-Jane Lengthorn (Lancs) v Qualifier

[1] Linda Elriani (Sussex) v Qualifier


James Willstrop Confident Of British Nationals' Success

James Willstrop, who led England to success in last December's World Team Championships in Pakistan, is confident of success in next week's British National Squash Championships in Manchester, where he has been named as top seed for the first time.


The 22-year-old from Pontefract in Yorkshire begins his campaign against Oxfordshire's Scott Handley, according to the men's draw announced today (Tuesday) by England Squash.


The 2006 men's and women's championships, boasting world-class fields from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, will take place at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester from 7-12 February, after qualifying on Sunday and Monday (5/6 February).


Willstrop is expected to face his good friend and Pontefract club-mate Lee Beachill, the third seed, in the semi-finals – in what would be a repeat of last year's final when Beachill became only the third person to win the men's title three times.


"I'm not thinking that far ahead," said Willstrop.  "I'm just focusing on my first round match with Scott.  We played a few times when I was a junior, when he used to beat me, but I took him when we last met, in the 2004 English Open in Sheffield.


"But I'm really looking forward to playing – it's always a great tournament, with a great atmosphere.  I feel very confident."


When asked how he felt being favourite for the first time, the world No6 added:  "It’s quite weird really - like it was leading the England team for the first time in Islamabad last month, ahead of the likes of Peter Nicol, Lee and Nick Matthew. 


"But I'm pleased to be number one and am happy to have the pressure.  I'm going to relish the occasion," said Willstrop.


Second seed Peter Nicol, appearing in the event ten years after winning the first of his two titles, is drawn to face a qualifier in the opening round.  The left-hander is predicted to face fourth seed Nick Matthew, from Sheffield, in the semi-finals.


Manchester star Vicky Botwright is top seed in the women's event for the first time.  The world No5 is drawn to face Sussex's former European Junior Champion Suzie Pierrepont in the first round. 


In what would be her maiden appearance in the semi-finals, 28-year-old Botwright is expected to meet third seed Tania Bailey, from Stamford in Lincolnshire.  With five first round exits in six appearances in the event, Bailey will be hoping to keep her anticipated semi-final date with her England team-mate.


Defending women's champion Linda Elriani is the event's No2 seed.  After winning the title for the first time last year in her 17th appearance in the event, the world No6 from Eastbourne will be hoping to reach her sixth final.  Elriani meets a qualifier in the opening round and is expected to face Yorkshire's fourth seed Jenny Duncalf in the last four.


Selby Seeded As Walker Limps Out Of British Nationals
Essex's Daryl Selby has been promoted to a seeded position in next week's British National Squash Championships in Manchester following the last-minute withdrawal of Alister Walker, the 14th seed from Gloucestershire.

Leeds-based Walker is suffering with an ankle injury which requires surgery.

Selby has been named as 16th seed and will face a qualifier in the first round.  The 23-year-old from Witham, near Colchester, broke into the world top 50 in January and celebrated a career-high No 46 world ranking this month.

Yorkshireman Laurence Delasaux also benefits from Walker's withdrawal.  The 20-year-old former European Junior champion from Hull, who celebrated his second international Tour title in Oxfordshire last month, is elevated from the qualifiers to take on Essex's No6 seed Peter Barker in the first round.

The 2006 men's and women's British National Championships, boasting world-class fields from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, will take place at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester from 7-12 February, after qualifying on Sunday and Monday (5/6 February).



Manchester Stars Seeded For Historic Nationals Success


The announcement of the seedings for next month's British National Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity in Manchester suggest that the main titles will fall into local hands for the first time in the event's history.


Vicky Botwright, from Worsley in Manchester, is favourite in the women's event for the first time, while Manchester/Pontefract Premier League team star James Willstrop is top seed in the men's championship, also for the first time.


Botwright leapt to No5 in the world rankings in December to become England's highest-ranked woman player for the first time.  Simultaneously, Willstrop catapulted six places to a career-high No2 in the men's world list to overtake his Manchester/Pontefract team-mate Lee Beachill as the highest-ranked Englishman in the world.


The 2006 British National Championships get underway at the NSC on Tuesday 7 February after qualifying on Sunday and Monday (5/6 February).  The finals, on the all-glass showcourt which staged the Commonwealth Games action in 2002, will take place on Sunday 12 February.


Since crowning his status as England's most successful junior of all time by winning the World U19 title in India in December 2002, 22-year-old James Willstrop – from Pontefract in Yorkshire - has enjoyed a glittering run as a senior.  After reaching last year's Nationals' final, he went on to reach the climax of the British Open final – also at the NSC.  But his appearance in December's Qatar Classic final provided the standout result of the year when he beat Australia's David Palmer in straight games to lift the prestigious Super Series title in Doha.


Vicky Botwright reached five international tour finals last year, winning the Yokohama Open crown in Japan.  In addition, the 28-year-old claimed the first title in her home town when she won the Gerrard Grand Prix trophy at the NSC in September. 


The British Nationals will again boast world-class fields - including defending men's champion Lee Beachill, the world No8 who is hoping to become the first man to reach the final six years in a row, and women's champion Linda Elriani, the world No6 from Sussex who won the title for the first time last year in her 17th appearance in the event. 


Elriani is seeded to meet Botwright in the women's final, while Beachill is named as third seed in the men's event, behind Peter Nicol, arguably Britain's most successful player of all time, who is the No2 seed.  Nicol, who won the 50th major international title of his career last year, will be looking to win his third National trophy in Manchester – ten years after winning his first! 


The 2006 championships will mark the first time that Nicol, Willstrop, Beachill and Yorkshire's Nick Matthew have been together since winning the World Team Championships title for England in Pakistan in December. 



Age Group Competition