Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Finals day at the Nationals: Matthew v Selby; Duncalf v Massaro

Laura Massaro (left) meets England team-mate Jenny Duncalf in the women’s final

British National Squash Championships News


RESULTS:      British National Squash Championships, National Squash Centre, Manchester

Men’s semi-finals:

[1] Nick Matthew (Yorks) bt [6] Tom Richards (Surrey)  11-4, 11-3, 11-6 (35m)

[3] Daryl Selby (Essex) bt [5] Jonathan Kemp (Shropshire) 7-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 (45m)

Women’s semi-finals:

[1] Jenny Duncalf (Yorks) bt [7] Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Middx) 11-2, 11-1, 11-5 (19m)

[3] Laura Massaro (Lancs) bt [2] Madeline Perry (Ireland) 11-8, 12-14, 11-3, 11-9 (58m)

Massaro Marches Into Manchester Final

Laura Massaro kept alive her hopes of becoming Lancashire’s first winner of the women’s British National Squash Championshipstitle by upsetting Ireland’s second seed Madeline Perry in today’s semi-finals at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.

Massaro arrived in Manchester fresh from winning the biggest international title of her career in Cleveland, USA – where she claimed successive upsets over Perry; her world number two-ranked England team-mate Jenny Duncalf; and, for the first time, the world number one Nicol David.

But the third seed from Preston, ranked nine in the world, had a hard battle to repeat her victory over second seed Perry, the world No7 from Banbridge, near Belfast – winning 11-8, 12-14, 11-3, 11-9 in just under an hour.

“Madeline’s a great player – she was so gutsy out there today,” said a delighted Massaro, now in the final for the second time.  “I just couldn’t take my foot off the pedal for a moment.

“The Cleveland success has given me confidence, but it also puts pressure on you.  In the end, though, the confidence outweighs the pressure – and I was feeling OK towards the end.

“It’s hard not to put too much pressure on yourself.  But, deep down, I’ve now got the belief I can do it when it gets tough,” added Massaro.

“Winning those matches last week gave me the confidence that I can win events at the highest level.  There’ll be no pressure on me in the final.”

Massaro will face England team-mate Jenny Duncalf, the top seed from Yorkshire.  The two-time champion reached the final for the fourth time in five years after the swiftest win of the day – a 19-minute defeat of seventh seed Dominique Lloyd-Walter.

The Middlesex 29-year-old reached her maiden semi after upsetting local star Sarah Kippax, the fourth seed from Cheshire, in the previous round.  But Lloyd-Walter was unable to reproduce her performance against the England number one, going down 11-2, 11-1, 11-5.

“I got a good start, and I tried to make sure I kept the pressure on,” said Duncalf.  “I thought I was playing pretty well.

“It’s always hard being on the back foot when you don’t make a good start, especially on big stages like this, but Dom can certainly play a lot better than that.

“I’m looking forward to the final,” added the 28-year-old from Harrogate.  “We don’t often get to have our friends and family here when we play in big events, so that will be good – but I’m here to win it.

“It’s a huge honour to win your National title, I’ve got two already.  I know Laura will really want to win it for the first time – but I want a third!”

Yorkshireman Nick Matthew gave a performance worthy of his dual status as world number one and world champion to despatch sixth seed Tom Richards, ranked 30 places lower, 11-4, 11-3, 11-6 in just 35 minutes.

Richards, the Guildford-born 24-year-old making his semi-final debut, made his breakthrough in the previous round where he ousted Alan Clyne, the unheralded Scot who upset fourth-seeded Londoner Adrian Grant, a former runner-up, in the last 16 round.

It was a disappointing performance by the Surrey hope who has recently picked up some notable scalps.  “I played Nick last week in the Swedish Open – and I didn’t play anything like as well today as I did then,” admitted Richards.

“My shots were too loose and you can’t do that against someone like Nick.

“It’s frustrating – I just didn’t do myself justice.  But he is the world number one and world champion, so I suppose he’s bound to make it difficult.”

Matthew, the 30-year-old from Sheffield who became England’s first ever world champion in December, is an-course to win a record-equalling four national titles.  “Tom is one of a group of younger players that shows the strength in depth we have in English squash.  I’m sure he will learn a lot from this,” said the England number one.

Richards agreed:  “You learn more from your losses than from your wins,” said the beaten semi-finalist.  “But I’ll learn a lot more as it’s a heavy loss!”

In the last semi-final of the day, third seed Daryl Selby secured a place in the men’s final for the first time after overcoming quarter-final hero Jonathan Kemp, the fifth seed from Shropshire who stunned former champion James Willstrop, the No2 seed.

Left-hander Kemp, the world No23 from Halifax, carried on from where he left off 24 hours earlier – taking the first game and leading twice in the second.

But 28-year-old Selby, the world No10 from Essex, moved ahead from nine-all in the second to draw level – then battled to stay ahead of his opponent in the next two to record his 7-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 victory after 45 minutes.

“This is one of the biggest tournaments we play – and a great chance to show English squash enthusiasts what we do,” Selby told event MC Andrew Nickeas immediately following his triumph.  “I’m very happy to get through.

“Kempy is one of those players who, if you give him half a percent, will take full advantage.  He dominated the first game – but I managed to get ahead in the third.”

When asked what reaching the National final meant to him, Selby responded:  “I’ve not made any Super Series finals – only a few three or four star events – but this tournament is up there with the best, because of the strength in depth of English squash.

“It will be my biggest final, for sure, and it will be an honour and a privilege to play the world number one and world champion here tomorrow,” Selby continued.

“It’ll be great to have my Mum and Dad and the rest of the family to watch me – they’ve done so much for me over my career.  I hope I can play well.”

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