Hull of a way to say goodbye as three squash legends bow out with hugs and smiles
By SEAN REUTHE in Hull
An emotional second day of action at the 2019 Allam British Open saw three of squash’s most decorated players call time on their glittering careers as eight-time World Champion Nicol David, two-time British Open champion Laura Massaro and former World No.2 Jenny Duncalf played their final professional squash matches.
David, the iconic Malaysian who won five British Open titles and spent an unprecedented nine years at World No.1, bowed out after a 3-1 defeat to World No.3 Nour El Tayeb, with the Egyptian player winning 11-4, 11-7, 11-13, 11-5 to end David’s 21-year career on the PSA World Tour.
The 36-year-old was voted the greatest female squash player of all time in a poll conducted by the Professional Squash Association (PSA) last summer and ends her career after winning 81 PSA titles from 102 finals, which is unmatched by any other female player.
“The British Open was the thing that really kicked things off and winning that title gave me the belief that I could be one of the best on tour and gave me the confidence to win my first World title and get to World No.1,” said David, the World No.18, afterwards.
“At the time, you just never quite know until you experience it first-hand, and as the years went by, that’s when I won my second World title and things really kicked off for me. It all really started from the British Open, I can’t believe it’s nearly been two decades.
“It’s a really special time for women’s squash to see the crop that is coming through. All the top girls are all gunning for that World title, British Open title, the World No.1 spot and to see them makes me so proud to have been a part of that group.”
Massaro, the most successful Englishwoman of the modern era, saw her career come to an end at the hands of Belgium’s World No.39 Tinne Gilis as she fell to a surprise 11-5, 2-11, 11-5, 11-7 defeat.
Preston-based Massaro, the current World No.10, won the British Open in 2013 and 2017, with the second of those wins seeing her become the first female English player in 66 years to win the sport’s longest-running title on two occasions.
In a speech full of emotion, the former World Champion said: “Hull has become a special place for me. My first British Open title at the then-KC Stadium was one of the best locations we have played in England.
“To be in two finals and to win it twice is just a dream come true really. There’s not many people that can say they have won it twice and I am hugely grateful to the [title sponsors] Allams and all of the sponsors, Hull will always be special for me because of the memories I have made here and it seems fitting that even though it didn’t end with my best today, that the Allams were able to watch my last match and that it was in Hull.
“No one steps on court at seven-years-old and thinks they are going to achieve that. If hard work can get you anywhere, then it has been down to a lot of hard work. It’s been a complete rollercoaster, it’s been unbelievable highs and lows throughout my career and I’m extremely proud of my achievements – hopefully once it all sinks in then I can look back and reflect a bit.”
Gilis will play older sister Nele in the next round and, after the biggest win of her career, said: “It was mentally so hard, but I’m so happy. I gave it everything today and it paid off and it is such an honour to play Laura in her last match. I tried not to think about it being her last tournament, as if I thought about it too much then it would have made me nervous.
“I know how much this tournament meant to Laura, so I’m a bit sad for her as well, but I wish her all the best in her next chapter.”
Meanwhile, Massaro’s international teammate, 36-year-old Duncalf, played her final professional match against World No.1 Raneem El Welily, going down in straight games.
Duncalf retires with 11 PSA titles and was runner-up to David in the 2008 British Open and 2011 PSA World Championships final, while she even took up MC duties later on in the day to interview David on court after her final match.
“Before I had my hip operation, I was sort of borderline retiring before the Commonwealth Games last April.” Duncalf said.
“I needed a hip operation, and I thought I would see how I got on, but it’s a struggle playing all these youngsters, and I’m so pleased to be leaving the sport in good stead. We have so many different nationalities playing the game and I feel so proud to have been a part of it and it’s definitely time for me.”
In the men’s event, six of the seven Englishmen in action exited the tournament, including three-time runner-up James Willstrop, who fell to two-time winner Mohamed ElShorbagy in straight games.
Despite the scoreline, Willstrop and ElShorbagy played out an extremely high-quality affair, with World No.2 ElShorbagy taking a trio of 11-9 victories to send Yorkshireman Willstrop out.
“The British Open is the tournament with the most history,” ElShorbagy said. “When you win it, you’re down in the history of the sport and nobody can take that away from you. It’s the last tournament of the season and that is pretty brutal. We all have a lot of niggles, so it’s survival of the fittest in this event and I’m going to give it a big push and let’s see how far I can go.”
Meanwhile, World No.15 Declan James, the highest ranked male English player, saw his tournament cut short by an ankle injury as he went down to former World No.3 Omar Mosaad.
England No.3 Daryl Selby is the only home player to reach the last 16 of the men’s draw after he beat wildcard Patrick Rooney, while ElShorbagy’s younger brother Marwan got the better of last year’s surprise semi-finalist Raphael Kandra, coming back from two games down to exact his revenge for a quarter-final defeat to the German in this tournament 12 months ago.
He will take on World No.1 Ali Farag for a place in the quarter-finals after Farag came back from a game down to beat 18-year-old Mostafa Asal in four games. In the longest match of the day, the highest-ranked British male, Welsh ace Joel Makin, went down to No.4 seed Paul Coll, with the New Zealander taking it 11-4 in the fifth after 87 minutes.
The third round of the British Open begins tomorrow (Wednesday) at 12:00 (GMT+1) and action will be shown live on SQUASHTV (rest of world), Eurosport Player (Europe only) and the official Facebook page of the PSA World Tour.
Allam British Open 2019, University of Hull Sports and Fitness Centre, Hull, England.
Men’s Second Round:
 Ali Farag (EGY) bt Mostafa Asal (EGY) 3-1: 6-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (42m)
Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY) bt Raphael Kandra (GER) 3-2: 6-11, 9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-8 (52m)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) bt Borja Golan (ESP) 3-1: 11-8, 11-4, 14-16, 11-8 (81m)
 Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY) bt Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-5, 11-2 (31m)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) bt  Diego Elias (PER) 3-2: 9-11, 13-11, 3-11, 11-3, 11-5 (67m)
Lucas Serme (FRA) bt Todd Harrity (USA) 3-1: 4-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-5 (45m)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) bt [WC] Joshua Masters (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 12-10, 11-5 (33m)
 Paul Coll (NZL) bt Joel Makin (WAL) 3-1: 9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-4 (87m)
 Simon Rösner (GER) bt Tom Richards (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 12-10, 11-6 (37m)
Omar Mosaad (EGY) bt Declan James (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-7, 6-3 ret (43m)
Zahed Salem (EGY) bt Greg Lobban (SCO) 3-0: 13-11, 11-5, 11-8 (47m)
 Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY) bt Saurav Ghosal (IND) 3-1: 11-9, 11-4, 7-11, 11-6 (54m)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) bt Campbell Grayson (NZL) 3-1: 11-3, 12-10, 7-11, 11-4 (61m)
Cesar Salazar (MEX) bt Karim Ali Fathi (EGY) 3-1: 12-10, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9 (58m)
Daryl Selby (ENG) bt [WC] Patrick Rooney (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-9, 11-6 (47m)
 Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY) bt James Willstrop (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 (44m)
Women’s Second Round:
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) bt Jenny Duncalf (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-4 (20m)
 Amanda Sobhy (USA) bt Samantha Cornett (CAN) 3-0: 11-4, 11-5, 11-3 (24m)
Joey Chan (HKG) bt  Salma Hany (EGY) 3-2: 7-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7 (44m)
 Nouran Gohar (EGY) bt Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-1, 11-3 (20m)
 Joelle King (NZL) bt Low Wee Wern (MAS) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-9 (28m)
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt Yathreb Adel (EGY) 3-1: 11-9, 4-11, 11-8, 11-8 (38m)
 Annie Au (HKG) bt Olivia Fiechter (USA) 3-0: 11-3, 2-0 ret (11m)
 Nour El Tayeb (EGY) bt Nicol David (MAS) 3-1: 11-4, 11-7, 11-13, 11-5 (41m)
 Camille Serme (FRA) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 3-1: 8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-3 (39m)
 Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Julianne Courtice (ENG) 3-2: 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 11-7, 12-10 (64m)
Tinne Gilis (BEL) bt  Laura Massaro (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 2-11, 11-5, 11-7 (37m)
Nele Gilis (BEL) bt  Hania El Hammamy (EGY) 3-2: 11-8, 11-6, 6-11, 5-11, 11-7 (82m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [WC] Jasmine Hutton (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 (24m)
 Joshna Chinappa (IND) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-3, 11-9 (34m)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) bt Olivia Blatchford Clyne (USA) 3-2: 11-7, 9-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-9 (58m)
 Nour El Sherbini (EGY) bt Mayar Hany (EGY) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-7 (23m)
Men’s Third Round (Top Half, May 22):
 Ali Farag (EGY) v Marwan ElShorbagy (EGY)
Gregoire Marche (FRA) v  Mohamed Abouelghar (EGY)
Mazen Hesham (EGY) v Lucas Serme (FRA)
Fares Dessouky (EGY) v  Paul Coll (NZL)
Men’s Third Round (Bottom Half, May 23):
 Simon Rösner (GER) v Omar Mosaad (EGY)
Zahed Salem (EGY) v  Karim Abdel Gawad (EGY)
 Miguel Rodriguez (COL) v Cesar Salazar (MEX)
Daryl Selby (ENG) v  Mohamed ElShorbagy (EGY)
Women’s Third Round (Top Half, May 22):
 Raneem El Welily (EGY) v  Amanda Sobhy (USA)
Joey Chan (HKG) v  Nouran Gohar (EGY)
 Joelle King (NZL) v  Alison Waters (ENG)
 Annie Au (HKG) v  Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
Women’s Third Round (Bottom Half, May 23):
 Camille Serme (FRA) v  Tesni Evans (WAL)
Nele Gilis (BEL) v Tinne Gilis (BEL)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v  Joshna Chinappa (IND)
 Victoria Lust (ENG) v  Nour El Sherbini (EGY)
Pictures courtesy of PSA