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National Championships: Day Four in Manchester

Alan Thatcherhttps://squashmad.com
Founder of World Squash Day, Squash Mad and the new Squash 200 Partnership, building clubs of the future. Founder of the Kent Open and co-promoter of the St. James's Place Canary Wharf Classic. Author and Public Speaker.

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Adrian Grant beats fellow leftie Adrian Waller – now he faces another one in Peter Barker

British National Squash Championships, Manchester  2013

Day FOUR, Thursday 14th Feb

Women’s Round One:

[1] Laura Massaro bt [Q] Leonie Holt 11/4, 11/4, 11/6 (22m)
[5/8] Emma Beddoes bt Lauren Selby 11/6, 11/1, 11/5 (28m)

Deon Saffery bt [5/8] Emily Whitlock 11/8, 6/11, 11/5, 11/6 (43m)
[3/4] Madeline Perry bt Lisa Aitken 11/5, 11/3, 11/1 (24m)

Sarah Kippax bt Tesni Evans 11/7, 3/0 rtd (17m)
[3/4] Jenny Duncalf bt [Q] Dom Lloyd-Walter 11/7, 11/8, 11/6 (28m)

[5/8] Sarah-Jane Perry bt [Q] Carrie Ramsey 5/11, 11/4, 11/5, 11/5 (34m)
[2] Alison Waters bt [Q] Nada Elkalaawy 11/3, 11/5, 11/1 (17m)

Men’s Round Two:

[1] Nick Matthew bt Jaymie Haycocks 11/8, 11/6, 11/9 (37m)
[5/8] Alan Clyne bt Robbie Temple 11/7, 6/11, 5/11, 11/2, 11/6 (68m)

[5/8] Tom Richards bt Eddie Charlton 12/10, 11/6, 11/5 (36m)
[3/4] Daryl Selby bt Greg Lobban 11/4, 11/6, 11/7 (35m)

[5/8] Adrian Grant bt Adrian Waller 11/5, 11/5, 11/4 (42m)
[3/4] Peter Barker bt Charles Sharpes 11/8, 11/5, 11/7 (46m)

[5/8] Chris Simpson bt Olivier Pett 8/11, 11/5, 11/7,11/13, 11/4 (73m)
[2] James Willstrop bt Joe Lee 11/3, 11/7, 11/2 (36m)

Saffery storms into quarters

Day Four at the 2013 Nationals started as yesterday finished, with an upset. This was a bigger one though as Wales’ Deon Saffery recorded a first win over 5/8 seed Emily Whitlock for one of her best victories. Saffery, 25, played well throughout, controlling the rallies and dictating play, forcing the world’s top-ranked junior into a number of untypical errors, particularly on the volley.

“I’m very happy with that,” declared Deon, “I’ve been playing well and I’m fitter now, but my confidence hasn’t been there to produce the results. Today though I believed in what I was doing and whereas when I’ve played Emily in the past I was doing the chasing, today I managed to get on top and dictate play myself.”

Deon will meet Ireland’s Madeline Perry for a place in the semi-final after the 3/4 seed eased past Scotland’s Lisa Aitken in straight games.

“I’ve been playing well recently, and I felt much sharper today than I usually do on these courts,” said Perry. “I’ve been playing this for a long time now, it would be nice to at least make the final for once, I’ve played and lost so many times in the semis, so maybe this is my year, we’ll see …”

It wasn’t until the third women’s match that an English winner emerges, Emma Beddoes winning her all-English matchup with Lauren Selby in three games. After a tight first game Beddoes raced through the second then pulled away from 5-all in the third to reach the quarters for the fourth time.

“Lauren’s so good if you put it on her racket, so I had to work on keeping her out of the middle,” revealed Beddoes. “I can’t complain, I felt confident going into the match and it’s the first time I’ve felt I played well in the first round here.

“It’s good to get through to another quarter-final – I’ve played Jenny, Madeline and Alison so it looks like I may get Laura this time!

She will indeed play Laura Massaro, the defending champion who looked comfortable enough in her straight-games dismissal of qualifier Leonie Holt.

“It’s always good to get the first one out of the way three-nil,” said Massaro. “I’ve been looking forward to this event after having to miss Cleveland through illness, but I’ll just be taking it one match at a time and hopefully I can get a third title.”

The evening session started with another English winner in the women’s draw, but an unfortunate injury for Wales’ Tesni Evans. Trailing Sarah Kippax 7/11, 0/3, Evans lunged for a dropshot at the front of the court and turned her ankle badly.

After some brief oncourt treatment it was sensibly decided that she couldn’t continue and Kippax was through.

“It’s never nice to win like that,” said Kippax, “it was shaping up be a good match, but it looked like a nasty fall I hope she recovers quickly.”

Kippax will meet two-time champion Jenny Duncalf in the quarters. Duncalf had a match with the now-retired qualifier Dominique Lloyd-Walter, a repeat of their semi-final of two years ago.

“I got battered then,” recalled Dom earlier today. It wasn’t as severe this time, but it was still three-nil to Duncalf in just under half an hour.

“It was nice to see Dom again let alone play her! She seems to be hitting the ball better than ever, catching me out with a few flicks. I just had to keep plugging away and stick in, it’s never easy on these courts so I’m looking forward to getting onto the glass court tomorrow.”

Sarah-Jane Perry and Carrie Ramsey, two of England’s most successful juniors of recent years, surprisingly didn’t play each other much as juniors. Today it was Ramsey who got the better start, taking the first game, but from the outset of the second it was 5/8 Perry who took control, running out the 3/1 winner to reach the quarters for a second time.

“She came out firing and I think I was having a bit of a snooze to be honest,” admitted Perry. “I need to play very fast or very slow and I was playing in the middle and she was taking advantage. I was practicing slowing it right down at the end, if I play Alison [Waters] I’ll need to do that to keep it off her volley!”

Keeping the ball away from Waters’ deadly volley was something that young qualifier Nada Elkalaawy couldn’t do enough of as last year’s finalist raced through her match in just 17 minutes.

“She was playing some good shots and it was close for a while in the second,” said Waters, “but I really tried to step the pace up and attack at the end.”

Waters made her comeback from extended injury at this event last year, and made the final. “The year’s gone so quickly,” she said, “but I’m feeling sharp and looking forward to getting on the glass court tomorrow. I haven’t played Sarah-Jane for a while but she hits the ball well and has had some good tournament wins recently so I’ll have to be on my toes.”

Seeds through to men’s quarters

The men’s second round started with wins for two left-handed “elder statesmen” against two up and coming youngsters. Adrian Grant and Peter Barker both had to work hard to see off Adian Waller and Charles Sharpes respectively, but see them off they did, both in straight games.

Both had plenty of respect and encouraging words for their opponents: “I’ve trained with Adrian for a year now,” said Grant, “he’s come on in leaps and bounds so I was really wary going into this match and I’m glad to have managed to get off in three.”

“These young guys are hungry and they’ve got nothing to lose,” said Barker, who has missed several recent Nationals through injury. “It’s good to be back, I’ve missed this event too many times, and I guess tomorrow I’ll be the young one gunning for Adrian!”

Sharpes was happy enough with his performance: “The first was really tight, but he has all the experience and managed to claw back the lead I’d built.

“”I’m happy with how I played, I’m trying to get up to where these guys are, and every minute on court with them can only help.”

The second pair of men’s matches also presented established stars with up and coming challengers, although in Chris Simpson’s case it wasn’t too long ago that the 26-year-old was one of the chasing pack.

He found himself sorely tested by Olli Pett in the longest match of the tournament so far. In a match featuring many mammoth rallies, Pett took a long first game before Simpson struck back to take the lead, and looked to be heading for victory in the fourth.

A fine comeback from Pett saw him save a match ball and force a decider, but Simpson was back in charge in the fifth.

“It’s very hot on there today,” admitted Simpson, “it felt like we were playing at altitude after some of those rallies! It was a really tough match and he played well. I thought I had him in the fourth but he fought back and I went a bit defensive. I managed to play my best game in the fifth.

“When I saw the draw it looked like two tough matches to get through to a probable quarter-final with James in front of a big crowd. That was a target to aim for and I’ve done that so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow’s match.”

It will indeed be Willstrop, the two-time champion and second seed, who Simpson will meet tomorrow. It was never easy, but the tall Yorkshireman never looked in any serious danger in this three-game win over Joe Lee.

“Everyone keeps asking about the final and the title,” said Willstrop after the match, “but you have to realise that the standard of these players coming through the ranks now is so high, there really aren’t any easy matches. Joe and some of the others coming through have a great future, it’s exciting to be part of the game at the moment, with the fierce competition at the top of the world rankings and so many youngsters coming through.”

Tom Richards was meeting Eddie Charlton for the third year in a row at this stage, although as Richards pointed out the 1-1 record was due to him not even stepping onto court last year. Charlton threatened to take a real win as he held a slight advantage through most of a tight first game but couldn’tr convert his single game ball as Richards took it 12/10.

The 5/8 seed took the next two with more comfort to reach the quarter-finals. “Eddie’s very good at putting anything you give him away, and I was a bit too loose in the first,” said Richards. “I tightened up after that and managed to get hold of the match.”

Richards will face 2010 champion Daryl Selby, after the 3/4 seed despatched a second successive Scottish opponent, this time it was Greg Lobban who succumbed in three games in just over half an hour.

“Greg’s just started coming through strongly,” said Selby, “playing on this court is an advantage for us but he’s still tough to beat. I think four of my last five matches against Tom have gone to five, so it could be another good battle tomorrow!”

The penultimate men’s match was a gruelling five-setter between super-fit Scot Alan Clyne and double-handed Englishman Robbie Temple. Clyne took the lead but then fell 2-1 behind before levelling the match with an 11/2 win in the fourth.

The decider was looking tight at 5-all, but Temple started to suffer leg cramps and couldn’t compete as he’d like in the final few points as Clyne reached the quarters for a second time.

“It was a bit of a battle in the end,” said Clyne, “but it’s always good to win those ones.”

Defending champion Nick Matthew, playing on the late shift again after the previous 68-minute encounter, met Jaymie Haycocks for the second time in a row at this stage. Haycocks, who produced the only upset of the first round, coontinued to perform well as he stayed with the four-time champion throughout the first game, only narrowly losing out at the end.

Matthew stepped up the pace thereafter, but at 10-4 in the third saw five match balls go begging as Haycocks fought back strongly. An unfortunate nick brought the ball back to the underdog for a unfortunate stroke to finish the match for a relieved Matthew.

“It’s unfortunate it finished like that,” said Matthew, “I had visions of us going on for longer, but it’s getting late! Jaymie has the perfect game for the glass court, and he was just as difficult to beat as he was last year, so I was happy to get off in the end.”..

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