Friday, December 8, 2023

Laura Massaro and Sarah-Jane Perry fly the flag for England

Laura Massaro in action
Laura Massaro in action in Hull

England girls carry home hopes into Hull quarter-finals

Former champion Laura Massaro and 13th seed Sarah-Jane Perry have ensured home interest in the women’s quarter-finals of the Allam British Open Squash Championships after four-game victories in today’s second round of the WSA World Series event at the Airco Arena in Hull.

Avenging a shock defeat by left-hander Donna Urquhart only seven days ago, world No.14 Perry beat the Australian qualifier 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6 in 40 minutes.

It was in last week’s quarter-finals of the CourtCare Open in Lancashire that favourite Perry made a surprise exit courtesy of Urquhart, the former world No.13 making a return to competitive action after foot surgery last year.

Sarah-Jane Perry in action against Donna Urquhart
Sarah-Jane Perry in action against Donna Urquhart

On the all-glass court in Hull, Birmingham-born Perry (pictured above, right, with Urquhart) notched up the first two games comfortably before Urquhart surged back in the third game and forced the England international to find an extra gear.

“I thought I played pretty well,” said the Kenilworth-based British National champion who will play her first British Open quarter-final on her 25th birthday. “It got a little bit edgy in the middle, a few errors but managed to rein it in. She kept me fighting so I was pretty pleased to win that last rally. I’m playing well, I hit the ball well. I love that court.

“I was seeded to get to this round today, so anything else is a bonus really, I’m really pleased to get through to tomorrow, and we’ll see firstly who I’m playing and then just go out there tomorrow, give it my best shot. It’s my birthday so I’ve got to enjoy myself.”

In the first match of the evening session, third seed Laura Massaro joined her England team-mate in the last eight after seeing off Egyptian prospect Nouran Gohar in four games.

The 17-year-old from Cairo was making her second successive appearance in the championship – but 31-year-old Massaro’s experience ultimately proved to be the decisive factor as the 2013 champion powered her way through to the quarters after a solid 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-1 victory in 48 minutes.

“I think one of the strengths of my game is that I can play the big points well – I would always back myself to win those – and I’m glad I was able to show that tonight,” said the Lancashire lass from Preston who two years ago became the first English winner of the women’s title since 1991.

Laura Massaro dominates the middle of the court against Nouran Gohar
Laura Massaro dominates the middle of the court against Nouran Gohar

“But Nouran is definitely a talent for the future,” added Massaro (pictured above, left, with Gohar), the world No.4.

“Becoming the first English winner of the title for 22 years two years ago was very special for me. And the crowd almost carried me over the finishing line in last year’s final!”

Perry will now face top seed Nicol David for a place in the semi-finals. The defending champion from Malaysia took one step closer to a sixth title in 11 years when she beat England’s Emma Beddoes 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5.

Massaro’s opponent will be 10th seed Joelle King, the former world No.4 from New Zealand who is playing her first Tour event since rupturing her Achilles last August. The 26-year-old has been in sparkling form in Hull – securing her second successive straight games victory with a 28-minute 11-5, 11-7, 11-2 victory over England wild card Victoria Lust.

Allam British Open, Hull, England:

Women’s 2nd round (top half of draw):
[1] Nicol David (MAS) bt [14] Emma Beddoes (ENG) 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-5 (53m)
[13] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt [Q] Donna Urquhart (AUS) 11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6 (40m)
[3] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt [16] Nouran Gohar (EGY) 11-9, 11-9, 8-11, 11-1 (48m)
[10] Joelle King (NZL) bt [WC] Victoria Lust (ENG) 11-5, 11-7, 11-2 (28m)
Quarter-final line-up:
[1] Nicol David (MAS) v [13] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
[3] Laura Massaro (ENG) v [10] Joelle King (NZL)
[4] Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v [6] Camille Serme (FRA)
[2] Raneem El Welily (EGY) v [Q] Delia Arnold (MAS)

Friday Order of Play:

12:00 (Q) Delia Arnold (MAS) v (2) Raneem El Welily (EGY)
13:00 (4) Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v (6) Camille Serme (FRA)
14:00 Mathieu Castagnet v (3) Nick Matthew (ENG)
15:00 (1) Mohamad El Shorbagy (EGY) v (7) Simon Rosner (GER)

17:30 (3) Laura Massaro (ENG) v (10) Joelle King (NZL)
18.15 (1) Nicol David (MAS) v (13) Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG)
19:15 (4) Miguel Angel Rodrigues (COL) v (6) Tarek Momen (EGY)
20:00 (2) Gregory Gaultier (FRA) v Mazen Hesham (EGY)

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