LJ Anjema, Alister Walker and Wael El Hindi raise the bar in men’s Over-35s
By HOWARD HARDING – Squash Mad International Correspondent
Former world No.1 Natalie Grainger is set to provide the sole gold medal for the hosts of the 2018 WSF World Masters Squash Championships in Virginia, USA, next month according to the seedings revealed today by the World Squash Federation.
The 15th edition of the biennial championships – and the first to be held in the USA – will take place at the superbly-appointed McArthur Squash Center at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville from 29 July to 4 August 2018.
A total of 802 athletes from a record 63 nations have entered the 19 men’s and women’s events in categories ranging from Over-35 to Over-80.
Grainger, who topped the world rankings in 2003, is favourite to lift the Women’s Over-40 title. The UK-born and South Africa-raised 41-year-old is a two-time World Masters champion after prevailing in the Over-35 championship both in 2014 and 2016.
Natalie’s mother Jean Grainger is also expected to triumph in Charlottesville. With four World Masters titles to her name between 1999 and 2014, the now 75-year-old from Johannesburg is seeded to win gold for South Africa in the Women’s Over-75 event.
The Men’s Over-35 tournament includes some star names competing in Masters events for the first time. Dutch left-hander Laurens Jan (LJ) Anjema is top seed, with former England international Alister Walker, now competing for Botswana, at number two, and Egypt’s Wael El Hindi at three. The trio achieved career-high world rankings of nine, 12 and eight respectively.
Ireland’s Liam Kenny and Willie Hosey are top seeds in the men’s Over-40 and Over-55 tournaments, with Jersey’s Nick Taylor, now coaching in Boston, favourite in the Over-45s. Experienced internationals Chris Walker (England) and Fredrik Johnson (Sweden) are seeded two in the Over-50 and Over-55 events respectively.
Five-time world champion Sarah Fitz-Gerald leads the Australian charge in Virginia where she is seeded to win a third successive Women’s Over-45 title. England’s Lauren Briggs is top seed in the Women’s Over-35 competition.
2018 World Masters, Boar’s Head, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA (July 29-August 4):
Men’s Over 35: 1 Laurens Jan Anjema (NED), 2 Alister Walker (BOT), 3/4 Wael El Hindi (EGY), Clinton Leeuw (RSA)
Men’s Over 40: 1 Liam Kenny (IRL), 2 Mick Biggs (ENG), 3/4 Lazarus Chilufya (USA), Patrick Chifunda (ZAM)
Men’s Over 45: 1 Nick Taylor (JEY), 2 Zuko Kubukeli (RSA), 3/4 Christian Borgvall (SWE), Adrian Hansen (RSA)
Men’s Over 50: 1 Michael Tootill (RSA), 2 Chris Walker (ENG), 3/4 Hansi Wiens (GER), David Sly (CAN)
Men’s Over 55: 1 Willie Hosey (IRL), 2 Fredrik Johnson (SWE), 3/4 Peter Gilbee (AUS), Brett Martin (AUS)
Men’s Over 60: 1 Geoffrey Davenport (AUS), 2 Jeremy Goulding (ENG), 3/4 Udo Kahl (GER), Pierr Roodt (RSA)
Men’s Over 65: 1 John Macrury (CAY), 2 Ian Graham (ENG), 3/4 Robert Jan Anjema (NED), Wayne Weatherhead (CAN)
Men’s Over 70: 1 Brian Cook (AUS), 2 Barry Featherstone (ENG), 3/4 Norbert Kornyei (USA), Ian Ross (SCO)
Men’s Over 75: 1 Adrian Wright (ENG), 2 Gerald Poulton (CAN), 3/4 John Nelson (USA), Desmond Sacco (RSA)
Men’s Over 80: 1 Lance Kinder (ENG), 2 Barry Gardiner (NZL), 3/4 Edward Burlingame (USA), Stanley Fanaroff (RSA)
Women’s Over 35: 1 Lauren Briggs (ENG), 2 Selina Sinclair (ENG), 3/4 Leah Boody (CAN), Zhenzhen Wu (CHN)
Women’s Over 40: Natalie Grainger (USA), 2 Melissa Martin (AUS), 3/4 Samantha Herbert (RSA), Jacqueline Ryder (RSA)
Women’s Over 45: 1 Sarah Fitz-Gerald (AUS), 2 Rachel Calver (ENG), 3/4 Shayne Baillie (ENG), Susan Davis (AUS)
Women’s Over 50: 1 Sarah Nelson (AUS), 2 Andrea Santamaria (ENG), 3/4 Hope Prockop (USA), Karen Webb (ZIM)
Women’s Over 55: 1 Susan Hillier (AUS), 2 Fiona McLean (SCO), 3/4 Mandy Akin (ENG), Sue Williams (AUS)
Women’s Over 60: 1 Jill Campion (ENG), 2 Karen Hume (ENG), 3/ 4 Carole Grunberg (USA), Shirley Whitmore (RSA)
Women’s Over 65: 1 Laura Ramsay (CAN) 2 Faith Sinclair (SCO), 3/4 Gaye Mitchell (AUS), Gail White (USA)
Women’s Over 70: 1 Ann Manley (ENG), 2 Robyn Prentice (CAN), 3/4 Bett Dryhurst (ENG), Marilyn Kennedy (AUS)
Women’s Over 75: 1 Jean Grainger (RSA), 2 Barbara Sanderson (IRL), 3/4 Alma Cave (RSA), Joan Witton (ENG)
Official event website, including full draws: wsfworldmasters.com
Pictures courtesy of WSF and PSA