Sunday, June 23, 2024

Top seeds ease through British Nationals first round

Willstrop nationals

Matthew and Willstrop lead the charge into Nationals second round

Top seeds Nick Matthew and James Willstrop secured safe passages through to the second round of the Men’s British National Championship with resounding straight game successes in Manchester.

Defending champion and world number one Matthew eased past qualifier Lyell Fuller 11-7, 11-2, 11-4, before Willstrop (pictured above) inflicted an 11-2, 11-5, 11-1 thrashing on Kevin Moran of Scotland in just 23 minutes.

Matthew (pictured left), who was competing for the first time in Manchester since winning his third World Championship title in November, said: “He [Lyell] was definitely up for it. 

“There was no escaping from him on Twitter for the last 24 hours. I had to take him seriously, I was 18 myself once and I know what it’s like to be young and hungry.”

The five-time National champion will now meet 9/16 seed Greg Lobban for a place in the quarter-finals, following the Scottish number two’s four game victory over Lincolnshire’s Adam Auckland.

In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Willstrop will face world number 60 Charles Sharpes in the last 16, after the 22-year-old recovered from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Scottish qualifier Douglas Kempsell 11-9 in a dramatic fifth game.

Willstrop, a two-time champion at the event, told the National Squash Centre crowd after his 3-0 victory: “It’s great to be here in Manchester, every tournament this year is helping us to build towards the Commonwealth Games.”

“The Games is a big deal for us, it gives squash a bigger profile and is definitely a huge target for all of the English players. Obviously, I’d like do well here at the Nationals first though.”

World number 10 and 2011 champion Daryl Selby joined his fellow English teammates Matthew and Willstrop in the next round, after swatting aside James Earles 11-9, 11-2, 11-3 in just over half an hour. 

Elsewhere, Chris Ryder upset the seedings to beat his Birmingham PSL teammate Jaymie Haycocks in straight games, before world number 20 Adrian Grant recovered from a second game lapse to triumph 11-5, 4-11, 11-7, 11-4 over fellow compatriot Chris Fuller.

World number 22 Chris Simpson squandered several match balls against Robbie Temple before clinching victory 11-6, 11-9, 13-15, 11-9 in 72 minutes and was later joined in the next round by former world number 12 Tom Richards who romped past Tom Ford in 28 minutes (pictured above).

Declan James, who needed 82 minutes to overcome qualifier Ollie Hollland in five games, faces Simpson in the last 16, while Richards’ reward is an encounter with fellow straight game victor Eddie Charlton. 

In the last match on court, world number 86 Ben Coleman (pictured below) beat lucky loser Will John 3-0 but was forced to stay at the National Squash Centre until gone midnight after an untimely visit from a drug tester – hardly the ideal preparation for his second round match against 5/8 seed Adrian Waller. 

British Nationals draw new


British Nationals women 2

Pictures by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite) 

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