Willstrop ready to rewrite the script
By DONNA HELMER – Squash Mad Reporter
Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro have been named as hot favourites to triumph in what promises to be one of the most hotly contested Nationals in recent history.
Joining three-time World Champion Nick Matthew in the men’s draw will be former World No.1 James Willstrop, whose sublime performance at the recent Tournament of Champions saw him overpower his long-term domestic rival after a 10-year wait.
Can he do it again in Manchester or will Matthew restore his dominance over his England team-mate? Willstrop’s recent run of excellent form has propelled him back up to eight in the PSA world rankings so the stage is set for a fascinating competition.
A wealth of British talent also features in the men’s draw, led by 2016 Macau Open champion and World No.15 Daryl Selby, plus Tom Richards, Adrian Waller, Scottish No.1 Alan Clyne and rising star Declan James, who put Mohamed El Shorbagy through his paces in round one of the Tournament of Champions.
Tom Richards moves to the 3/4 seed to replace Open de Paris champion Chris Simpson, who has withdrawn due to an adductor injury, with Joe Lee moving up to the 5/8 spot.
Defending champion and World No.5 Laura Massaro tops an outstanding women’s draw alongside World No.8 and four-time Nationals champion Alison Waters.
Former title holder Sarah-Jane Perry, who has climbed to eight in the world following the Tournament of Champions, having defeated World No.3 Raneem El Welily, will also compete to make the women’s draw one of the most competitive in the tournament’s illustrious history.
Looking to upset the proceedings will be Welsh No.1 and last year’s semi-finalist Tesni Evans, World No.14 Emily Whitlock and World No. 16 Victoria Lust, all vying for honours at the National Squash Centre in Sportcity.
The Men’s Over 45s category will be fiercely contested, featuring former World No.2 Peter Marshall, one of the finest English players to have graced the courts, current World Masters Over 45 champion Nick Taylor and former British Open Over 35 champion and England Coach David Campion.
With five more World Masters champions vying for titles across 16 other Masters categories, the 2017 Championships has all the ingredients to go down as one of the most spectacular ever.
National Championship seeds:
Men’s main draw:
 Nick Matthew
 James Willstrop
[3/4] Daryl Selby
[3/4] Tom Richards
[5/8] Adrian Waller
[5/8] Alan Clyne
[5/8] Declan James
[5/8] Joe Lee
Women’s main draw:
 Laura Massaro
 Alison Waters
[3/4] Sarah-Jane Perry
[3/4] Emily Whitlock
[5/8] Jenny Duncalf
[5/8] Victoria Lust
[5/8] Tesni Evans
[5/8] Fiona Moverley
Full draws here
The Nationals take place at the National Squash Centre in Manchester from Tuesday 7th to Sunday 12th February. Qualification rounds will take place on February 7-8 while the main draw action commences on February 9.
Pictures courtesy of England Squash