Manchester is gearing up for the start of the 2011 National Squash Championships this month, when Britain’s most talented players will be battling it out to win the prestigious title.
England’s Nick Matthew and Jenny Duncalf are expected to provide a Yorkshire double, according to the seedings for the event.
Duncalf, the world No2 from Harrogate, won the title for the second time two years ago – but Londoner Alison Waters, ranked just one place lower in the world list, struck back to win her second national crown 12 months ago.
The pair are due to meet in the final but will face stiff competition from Preston’s Laura Massaro, the world No.10 who will be looking to improve on her runner-up finish in 2008. Massaro will also be on a high after beating her English team mate in the quarter finals of the Cleveland Classic and going on to win the event by beating World no.1 Nicol David. Watch out for part 2 of our Nationals build up where we will focusing on Laura and her latest achievements.
In the men’s event Nick Matthew is seeded to extend Yorkshire’s grip on the men’s title for the seventh successive year – and is the firm favourite to become the county’s most successful champion, winning his fourth title since 2006.
The 30-year-old from Sheffield is truly at the top of the world in squash: He followed a double gold medal success in last October’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi by becoming England’s first ever world champion in December – then further stamped his authority on the game by becoming world number one in January.
But Matthew will face still opposition from career-long county, country and international rival James Willstrop. The 27-year-old from Leeds, a two-time champion ranked four in the world, is the No2 seed and expected to meet Matthew in their fifth national final.
However, Essex pair Peter Barker and Daryl Selby will also provide a substantial threat to the two Yorkshiremen. Left-handed Londoner Barker, the world No8, is the third seed and Selby, ranked two world places lower, is the No4 seed.
The event also sees the Masters battle it out in 14 categories to become the National Champion. Over 200 players will compete alongside the professionals at the National Squash Centre and this year has a tournament first as it sees the start of an over 75 category for the men.
The Masters Nationals event is also good preparation for our top English players ahead of the World Masters which is taking place in Birmingham in 2012.