Second game tiebreaks are crucial in both finals
By PAUL LINDSAY – Squash Mad Correspondent
Abbay Singh and Katie Malliff emerged as deserved champions at the Prince British Under-23 Open at the Roehampton Club.
Completing a string of impressive performances, both won their finals in straight games. However, both champions endured crucial battles in the second game of each final, with Malliff squeezing home 20-18 against Kiera Marshall and Singh getting the better of Ben Smith by a 15-13 margin.
Women’s Final: Katie Malliff bt Kiera Marshall 11-7, 20-18, 11-7 (37 mins)
Katie got off to a fast start in the first game, opening up a 7-3 lead as Kiera took her time to find her length. Although Kiera started to use her deceptive backhand volley more Katie kept the pressure on to win the first game 11-7.
The second was a battle of physical and mental skill as the game saw points exchanged back and forth. Kiera went 10-7 up but failed to convert her first three game ball points as Katie’s court coverage and deft drops kept her in the game. At 10 all both players had chances to take the game yet four more games balls were missed by Kiera as Katie eventually won 20-18 in a tough second game.
In the third, Katie again got off to a fast start with a 5-2 lead and although Kiera was now playing some lovely squash she could not string together a run of two or more points. Perhaps the effects of the second game had taken their toll as both players gave everything with a few more errors now creeping in. Katie managed to stay focused winning 11-7 to clinch the title.
Men’s Final: Abhay Singh bt Ben Smith 11-3, 15-13, 11-9 (37 mins)
The score line in the first game does not reflect on either how well both players were playing or the effort put in. It was all down to fine margins costing Ben on numerous occasions as he clipped the top of the tin from a winning position. These mistakes were too many in the first and Abhay’s relentless pressure proved too strong winning 11-3.
The second game was a complete change from the first as Ben increased the pace of his hitting with greater effect. However, from 7-7 Abhay managed to force errors to go 10-8 up. Ben then started to use his attacking volley wisely to get back to 10-10. Some world class squash over the next points mixed with some clumsy movement from both saw Abhay take the game 15-13.
The third game looked like a repeat of the women’s final with the loss of the tough second game hurting Ben more. Abhay opened up a 4-2 lead, then extending it to 8-5, but Ben never gave up. Some great court coverage and once again great use of his attacking volley saw Ben close to 9-10. Abhay stayed strong and won the game 11-9 and took the Men’s Prince Under-23 British Open title.
The men’s third place play-of was an all-Sussex affair with Perry Malik beating the unseeded Noah Meredith, who had knocked out 3/4 seed Jordan Warne to reach the semi-finals.
During the presentation, both champions thanked hosts Roehampton Club and sponsors Prince for putting on the event.
Prince British U23 Open 2020, Roehampton Club, London, England.
 Abhay Singh (IND) bt  Ben Smith (ENG) 11-3, 15-13, 11-9 (37m)
Third place play-off:
[3/4] Perry Malik (ENG) bt Noah Meredith (ENG) 12-10, 11-4, 11-6
 Abhay Singh (IND) bt [3/4] Perry Malik (ENG) 11-4, 11-5, 11-5
 Ben Smith (ENG) bt Noah Meredith (ENG) 11-3, 11-8, 11-5
 Abhay Singh (IND) bt Hassan Khalil (ENG) 11-7, 11-9, 11-8
[3/4] Perry Malik (ENG) bt Ben Sockett (ENG) 11-4, 11-4, 5-11, 8-11, 11-3
Noah Meredith (ENG) bt [3/4] Jordan Warne (ENG) 4-11, 12-10, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6
 Ben Smith (ENG) bt Jack Mitterer (ENG) 11-6, 11-9, 11-8
 Katie Malliff (ENG) bt [3/4] Kiera Marshall (ENG) 11-7, 20-18, 11-7 (37m)
[3/4] Kiera Marshall (ENG) bt [5/8] Asia Harris (ENG) w/o
 Katie Malliff (ENG) bt [5/8] Sophie O’Rourke (IRL) 11-3, 11-7, 12-10
[5/8] Asia Harris (ENG) bt  Kace Bartley (ENG) w/o
[3/4] Kiera Marshall (ENG) bt Lucy Green (ENG) 11-4, 9-11, 14-12, 11-9
[5/8] Sophie O’Rourke (IRL) bt [3/4] Torrie Malik (ENG) 11-6, 4-11, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11
 Katie Malliff (ENG) bt [5/8] Jasmin Kalar (ENG) 11-9, 11-7, 11-3
Pictures courtesy of Roehampton Club