Sunday, May 28, 2023

Matthew and Waters are National treasures

Nick has six appeal and Alison makes it four as they’re crowned grand National winners


NICK MATTHEW and Alison Waters were the toast of Manchester last night after they were crowned British National Champions.

World number one Matthew celebrated a sixth national title as he overcame James Willstrop while Waters, appearing in her eighth final, ended the dream of 37-year-old Irish queen, Madeline Perry.

Matthew and Willstrop, who have a famously turbulent relationship, battled it out for 78 minutes in front of a capacity crowd at the National Squash Centre.

squeezeDespite taking an early lead, Willstrop could not contain the triple world champion who fought back to edge through 12/10 in a close second game before taking control of the match.

Matthew becomes the first British male player to win six titles and continues his dominance against rival Willstrop.

A beaming Matthew told the crowd: “That’s got to be up there with one of my best ever wins against James. Some of his backhand drives were ridiculously tight, he was in such great form that at the moment it’s relief more than delight! Although I’m sure I’ll be happy in five minutes!”

Matthew, who took his young niece onto court to help him collect the trophy said: “I won’t be playing for much longer – you’re a long time retired which is why it means a lot to me, having all my family here and my support staff.

“I know I haven’t got many more times left on this stage so I really do appreciate everyone’s support,” added Matthew.

BgnnWNbCIAA0He8In the women’s final, world number four and defending champion  Waters controlled Irish number one  Perry to claim her fourth title at the National Squash Centre.

Perry caused a huge shock by ousting world number two Laura Massaro in the semi-finals but failed to reach the same heights as Waters stormed to an 11-3, 11-6, 11-6 victory in just 33 minutes.

Waters, who has featured in eight National finals since 2005, said: “I’m so pleased, I’ve had plenty of tough battles against Madders in the past so I was ready from the start. 

“I just played my game and was confident going into it  I’m so excited to have won a fourth title. Big respect to Madeline, I know how long she’s wanted to get a National final. She’s 37-years-old and if I’m still playing as well as she is at 37, I’ll be delighted.”

Waters needed four games to advance past Emma Beddoes and Jenny Duncalf in her respective quarter-final and last four encounters but was rarely troubled by Perry who seemed overcome with nerves during the opening stages.

Waters winnerHer lack of touch at the front of the court was ruthlessly punished by Waters who took the first game in less than eight minutes.

The 14-time Irish National champion responded by dominating the first rally in the second but any signs of drawing level were ruthlessly extinguished as Waters reeled off a succession of drop winners to leave Perry gesticulating in frustration and trailing by two games to love. 

The 29-year-old from Middlesex continued to expose Perry’s lethargy but despite winning the first three points of the third game, the 3/4 seed pegged Waters back to draw level at four-all.

Waters, though, remained composed and quelled any hopes of a remarkable comeback by winning six of the next seven points to amass five match balls. 

But while Perry saved the first with a boast winner, a fortuitous sidewall nick off a backhand drive clinched Waters’ second successive National crown and ended her 11 month wait for a trophy. 

British Nationals women 2

Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite) 

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