Friday, February 23, 2024

Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro take National titles

The moment of glory as Nick Matthew beats James Willstrop
The moment of glory as Nick Matthew beats James Willstrop

It’s eight for Nick as Laura wins her third Manchester title
By DONNA HELMER in Manchester


Nick Matthew claimed his eighth national title in Manchester today as Laura Massaro claimed her third. Massaro won a one-sided encounter with Alison Waters, but Matthew was pegged back by long-term rival James Willstrop before dominating the closing stages of the match. 

World #1 Laura Massaro justified her top seed with a comprehensive, straight-games win over Alison Waters in the women’s final, the pair’s fourth meeting at this stage.

A solid start saw the top seed quickly build a 5-0 lead and the pattern was set, with Massaro dominating the rallies and Waters unable to make much of an impression on the play or the scoreboard as Massaro raced to a two-game lead. The third was more competitive, but Massaro still had the edge, closing out the match in under half an hour.

Laura Massaro on the attack against Alison Waters
Laura Massaro on the attack against Alison Waters

Nick Matthew already held the record of seven National titles and, appearing in a record ninth final, he extended that to eight as he beat James Willstrop in their fifth final.

The top seed was dominant in the first game, putting Willstrop under relentless pressure as he took the lead. Willstrop fought back well from 2-4 in the second to level the match, but was under the cosh once more in the final two games as Matthew regained control.

Nick Matthew celebrates his eighth Nationals win
Nick Matthew celebrates his eighth Nationals win

At 9-2 in the fourth, there was a particularly brutal rally which Willstrop somehow managed to win, to his own and the crowd’s delight, but it was only a short stay of execution.

In the inaugural Under-21s Nationals finals, Georgina Kennedy (Kent) proved to have too much for Alison Thomson (Surrey) as she took the title in straight games, winning 11-6, 11-4, 11-2.

It was a closer affair in the men’s Under-21 final as No.2 seed George Parker (Leicestershire) battled past top seed Richie Fallows (Essex), winning 11-13, 11-3, 12-10, 11-7  in 63 minutes.

Bexley coach Ben Ford made it a Kent double as he recorded his first National over-35 title in his fourth consecutive appearance in the final. He fought back from 2-1 down to win a marathon encounter with Darren Lewis (Leicestershire), winning 11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9 in 76 minutes.

In the National Deaf Squash Championships, Jamie Mathews claimed his ninth title with a victory over Philip Thomas in four games.

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What the champions said:
Laura Massaro: “Alison wasn’t at her best today, but I thought I played well and I’m absolutely delighted to get my name back on the trophy.”

Nick Matthew: “It’s always tough to break James down but the court was a bit deader than in previous days and he was maybe feeling yesterday’s five-setter by the end. I ‘went to Coventry’ in the second game but managed to get back on track.

“The Nationals is a great event, always improving with new things coming along like the Under-21s and two glass courts, and it’s unbelievable and an absolute honour to have won it eight times.”

British National Championship 2016, National Squash Centre, Manchester, England

Men’s Final:
[1] Nick Matthew (Yorks) bt [2] James Willstrop (Yorks) 11-2, 6-11, 11-3, 11-3 (57m)

[1] Nick Matthew (Yorks) bt [3] Daryl Selby (Essex) 11-4, 11-4, 11-7 (40m)
[2] James Willstrop (Yorks) bt [4] Chris Simpson (Yorks) 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8 (82m)

Women’s Final:
[1] Laura Massaro (Lancs) bt [2] Alison Waters (Middx) 11-2, 11-5, 11-4 (24m)

[1] Laura Massaro (Lancs) bt [7] Tesni Evans (Wales) 11-4, 11-2, 11-3 (30m)
[2] Alison Waters (Middx) bt [4] Jenny Duncalf (Yorks) 13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 5-11, 11-9 (56m)


Pictures by STEVE CUBBINS ( courtesy of England Squash 


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