Thursday, April 18, 2024

First British National titles in Manchester for Mohamed ElShorbagy and Jasmine Hutton

By ALAN THATCHER (Squash Mad Editor)

Mohamed ElShorbagy and Jasmine Hutton both claimed their first British Nationals titles in front of a packed house at the National Squash Centre.

Both won in straight games, ElShorbagy beating Joel Makin with identical scorelines of 12-10, 12-10, 12-10 in 67 minutes, and Hutton powering past Lucy Beecroft 11-3, 11-9, 11-8 in 29 minutes.

Just a couple of weeks after switching his allegiance to England from Egypt, world No.3 Mohamed ElShorbagy has secured the National Championship title at the first attempt by  beating defending champion Makin.

ElShorbagy and Makin are regular training partners and they were doing battle for the 11th time. The pair had met in the final of the Manchester Open in April and the Welshman won on that occasion to claim the biggest title of his career.

Makin also came in as the defending British Nationals champion, and he started strongly, holding a 10-7 advantage in the first game. But ElShorbagy fought back, saving three game balls before taking the tie-break.

The next two games followed similar patterns, with both also going to tie-breaks. Both men had their chances at the end of brutal rallies, but in the end, it was ElShorbagy that came through both of them to get his name on the trophy at the first time of asking.

ElShorbagy said: “When you play Joel, before you even talk about tactics, you have to know you are going to kill yourself on court because he is such a warrior.

“We always have fantastic matches, we match up really well. Our matches are really hard from the first point to the last point. You can see that all three games, 12-10, they could have gone either way and I was the lucky one!”

ElShorbagy is now a British citizen and he added: “I have lived here for a very long time, since I was a 15-year-old kid, since 2006. I came here as a kid to Millfield School and then to the University of the West of England, and I have had British coaches all my life, so it made sense for me (to switch to England).

“I would like to thank my team. Hadrian [Stiff], he has been fantastic for the past 12 years in Bristol. [Gregory] Gaultier, we started working together two months ago. He has completely brought the hunger back for me again, and Mark Burns, my fitness trainer, mine and Joel’s actually, he has done a fantastic job with both of us!

“Lastly, I am very proud. First of all I am very proud to win this title, it is a very prestigious event. All the British players, the legends of the game have won this title, so I wanted to win this week! I am glad it all came through.

“And finally, the crowd has been amazing the whole week. Thank you so much for supporting us, you guys make it special for us and I can’t wait to be back next year! The referees, we give them such a hard time, so thanks to them as well!”

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England’s Jasmine Hutton is the 2022 British National Championships winner for the first time after a commanding performance from the left-hander saw her get the better of compatriot Lucy Beecroft in straight games.

The pair had only met once before, with Beecroft the winner in the pool stages of the England Squash Super 8 Championships last year, but throughout this encounter Hutton was on top form.

She executed her game plan to perfection in the opening exchanges, with the pace of play being too much for the lower-ranked Beecroft, with Hutton’s length hitting finding the back corners consistently.

World No.55 Beecroft threatened in both the second and third games, even holding a 9-6 lead in the former, but Hutton had too many weapons on the day.

Hutton said: “She had two great wins to get here and I think she is completely under-ranked, she is deserving to get in the top events. It won’t be long before she gets there.

“I watched her whole match yesterday, and honestly, after watching that, I was slightly scared so, when I went 2-0 up, I told myself not to drop the third game, to just keep pushing, keep plugging away, but thankfully I got there!”

Asked about the benefits she gained from appearing in the 2020 Nationals final, Hutton added: “I have been thinking about it all day. It’s not something I should have been thinking about before playing but I just tried to hold my ground, and I do think that playing in 2020 helped me because I knew what to expect. I didn’t feel as much pressure as I thought I would today. Lucy beat me last time so I also wanted to get revenge.

“[It’s] pretty awesome I can’t actually put it into words right now, but yeah, It’s pretty cool!”

British National Championships, National Squash Centre, Manchester.

Men’s Final:
1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [2] Joel Makin (WAL) 3-0: 12-10, 12-10, 12-10 (67m)

Women’s Final:
[3] Jasmine Hutton (ENG) bt [6] Lucy Beecroft (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-9, 11-8 (29m)

Pictures courtesy of England Squash


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