Sunday, June 23, 2024

ESR: Laura leads the way for Lancashire

Laura Massaro in action

British National Squash Championships News

RESULTS: British National Championship, Manchester, England

Men’s quarter-finals (top half of draw):
[1] James Willstrop (Yorks) bt [6] Chris Ryder (Herts) 8-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-1 (43m)
[4] Adrian Grant (Kent) bt [14] Eddie Charlton (Notts) 11-5, 11-9, 13-11 (47m)

Women’s quarter-finals (lower half of draw):
[3] Laura Massaro (Lancs) bt [6] Victoria Lust (Beds) 11-3, 11-2, 11-4 (19m)
[2] Madeline Perry (Ireland) bt [5] Emma Beddoes (Warwicks) 13-11, 11-4, 11-2 (35m)

Lancashire Lass Laura Licks Lust

Lancashire’s defending champion Laura Massaro sailed into the semi-finals of the British National Squash Championships for the sixth successive year after a 19-minute rout tonight at the National Squash Centre inManchester.

The world No3 from Preston, who last year became the first ever Lancashire player to win the women’s title, crushed Bedfordshire’s Victoria Lust, the sixth seed from Cheltenham,11-3, 11-2, 11-4.

“Vicky will be disappointed – she’s a lot better than that,” said Massaro of her 22-year-old compatriot, ranked 34 places lower in the world.

After winning the 2011 national crown, 28-year-old Massaro went on to enjoy the best year of her career – leaping from ten to three in the rankings and winning the ‘WISPA Player of the Year’ award ahead of the record six-time world champion.

“Last year was a phenomenal year. I worked hard on my game and improved so many parts of it.

“And if I can do it, anybody can,” the modest Massaro told the enthusiastic National Squash Centre crowd.

In a repeat of the 2011 semi-final, Massaro will face 13 times Irish champion Madeline Perry, the world No4.

“Madeline’s always difficult – she’s such a quality player. So Saturday’s semi will be difficult.”

When asked whether she felt her chances were improved by the withdrawal of top seed Jenny Duncalf, Massaro replied: “I’m not thinking about the fact that Jenny has pulled out – I’m thinking about the fact that the number three and four in the world are playing in the semis.

It was a 13-11, 11-4, 11-2 win over Warwickshire’s fifth seed Emma Beddoes that saw Perry into her fourth semi in a row.

“I had to be really focussed to beat Emma today,” said the 34-year-old second seed from Banbridge, near Belfast. “I had to be clinical to win.”

When asked how good it was to be in the semi-final again in a venue where she has had so much success, Perry replied: “I really love this court, but I think it’s about time I got into a final.

“Everyone knows this is a big title, but the competition is always tough. But now that I am top seed, I can’t blame anyone if I don’t succeed.”

In the first men’s match, Londoner Adrian Grant battled for 47 minutes to see off Eddie Charlton, a quarter-final debutant from Nottingham, 11-5, 11-9, 13-11 to reach the semis for the sixth time.

“I took a while to adjust to the glass court after playing the earlier rounds on the other courts,” explained the 31-year-old fourth seed. “It was a strange up-and-down game – but when I focussed on the ball, that’s when I was in control.”

Asked to comment on the disparity between his world ranking of 17 and his opponent’s 93, Grant responded: “I don’t look at the rankings – you’ve just got to focus on what you’ve got to do. The games were tough but I’m glad I got through 3/0.

“Eddie’s playing higher than his ranking – it shows how strong it is down the order. If he carries on like this he’ll be one to watch.”

Runner-up in 2009, Grant has yet to become champion. “Winning the title would be huge. Even in the junior days you’re thinking of winning the senior title. There are some big names on that trophy – and even to win it once would be massive. I’ll give everything to win it!”

Charlton, the 14th seed who earned his quarter-final place after the last-minute withdrawal of fifth seed Tom Richards, was disappointed with his performance.

“It was a bit of an anticlimax not playing Tom in the earlier round – I was looking forward to having a shot at him,” said the 23-year-old.

“I didn’t play quite as well as I can do tonight – he’s a tough opponent but I just didn’t play my best game.

“But it was a great experience playing on the glass court. This is where I want to be!”

Later Grant’s semi-final opponent was decided when favourite James Willstrop recovered from a game down to beat sixth seed Chris Ryder 8-11, 11-3, 11-3, 11-1 in 43 minutes.

“The first two games were really well-contested,” said Willstrop, the 28-year-old top seed who celebrated a career-high world number one ranking in January. “There were some really intense rallies and he played some unbelievable drop shots.”

Ryder, the world No39 from Leamington Spa, was celebrating only his second appearance in the event’s quarter-finals.

On his semi-final clash with Grant on Saturday, Willstrop added: “I’ve got to be totally on my game. His squash is good – he’s shown recently that he can compete with anyone.”


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