Friday, May 24, 2024

Declan James and Sarah-Jane Perry win English titles in Manchester

Declan James and Sarah-Jane Perry win English titles in Manchester
By ANDY PILLING – Squash Mad Correspondent

Declan James and Sarah-Jane Perry emerged as the inaugural champions of the AJ Bell England Squash Challenge after today’s finals at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

James claimed a thrilling 3-1 win over training partner George Parker, while Perry produced a successful game plan to overcome the fierce challenge presented by the in-form Gina Kennedy.

James prevailed in an intense back and forth battle with Parker, narrowly winning the third game 12-10 before closing out the match 11-6 in the fourth to take home the title (11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6) in 64 minutes of fierce combat.

The match combined impressive technical discipline, excellent racket skills and, as expected, some intense physical investment from both players.

James credited the close match to the training he and Parker do on a regular basis but highlighted the competitive nature between the pair when they step on court.

He said: “Me and George train with each other so we know each other games inside out.

“We are very good friends on and off the court but ultimately we leave the friendship at the door when the game starts.”

Elsewhere in the men’s division, Richie Fallows claimed third place with a 3-1 victory over Nick Wall, while James Willstrop, who lost to Wall two days earlier, sealed fifth place by beating Charlie Lee 3-1.

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Sarah-Jane Perry was crowned winner of the AJ Bell England Squash Championships today, following a sensational performance against rising star Georgina Kennedy to win in straight games.

Perry was on form right from the start, controlling the tempo of the game and keeping Kennedy at bay. Perry won 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 to take home the crown after a disciplined performance lasting 23 minutes.

Reflecting on her win, Perry highlighted the importance of subduing an energetic Kennedy.

She said: “I went out there with a game plan. I knew how dangerous Georgina can be and I didn’t want to let her get into her stride.”

The four-day event has provided an invaluable opportunity for England’s top squash players to get some much needed competitive matches, and Perry was in no doubt of its importance in supporting the players mentally ahead of the return of the PSA World Tour.

“It does wonders for the players’ headspace and mentality to know they have got some events to train for.”

Kennedy may have been disappointed not to have made deeper inroads into the match, but can be extremely satisfied with a succession of top quality performances that took her to the final.

In the play-offs, Jasmine Hutton beat Julianne Courtice 3-1 (11-6, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6) to claim third place, while Millie Tomlinson battled to a 3-2 triumph (11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9) over Grace Gear to finish fifth and sixth respectively.

AJ Bell England Squash Championship 2021, National Squash Centre, Manchester.
Men’s Final:
[2] Declan James (Notts) bt [4] George Parker (Leics) 11-7, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6 (64m)

Third place play-off:
Richie Fallows (Essex) bt Nick Wall (Yorks) 11-6, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9 (53m)

Fifth place play-off:
[1] James Willstrop (Yorks) bt Charlie Lee (Surrey) 11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6 (44m)

Women’s Final:
[1] Sarah-Jane Perry (Warwicks) bt Georgina Kennedy (Kent) 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 (23m)

Third place play-off:
[4] Jasmine Hutton (Sussex) bt [3] Julianne Courtice (Glos) 11-6, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6 (44m)

Fifth place play-off:
[2] Millie Tomlinson (Derbyshire) bt Grace Gear (Herts) 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9 (53m)

Results courtesy of

Pictures by Steve Cubbins courtesy of England Squash


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