Drama in Manchester as Wales and Scotland fight their corner
By DONNA HELMER in Manchester
On a day of drama in Manchester, Daryl Selby overcame Scotland’s Greg Lobban in a marathon match to set up a semi-final clash with England team-mate Nick Matthew, the seven-times champion. It would have been eight but for Selby producing one of the best performances of his life to beat him in the 2011 final.
Today, Selby overcame Lobban in a massive battle lasting 82 minutes, while Matthew overcame Adrian Waller in just over half an hour on court.
In the other half of the draw, number two seed James Willstrop will meet Chris Simpson in the semi-finals. Willstrop overcame a nightmare start, losing the first game 1-11, before gaining control to take the next there games. Simpson had to graft his way past Welsh international Joel Makin in four tough games.
Another Welsh player, Tesni Evans, reached the semi-finals of the women’s event for the first time after winning a phenomenal battle with England’s Fiona Moverley, triumphing 12-10 in the fifth game.
Evans now meets top seed Laura Massaro, who beat Victoria Lust in straight games. Number two seed Alison Waters looked in confident form as she beat Emily Whitlock in straight games and now meets Jenny Duncalf, who beat Sarah Campion in four games.
Today’s round-up from the National Squash Centre in Manchester
The afternoon quarter-final session saw three former champions book their places in the semi-finals.
First up was Jenny Duncalf against Sarah Campion (formerly Kippax), both playing their 16th Nationals and meeting for the fifth time. Campion started stronger, but once Duncalf found her stride she recovered to win in four games, making it five wins over Campion and reaching the semi-finals for a 10th time.
“We seem to play each other every year,” said Duncalf. “But when I first saw the draw I did think ‘who is that!’ She came out really well and made it hard work for me. It’s great to see her back on court but I’m happy to make it through to another semi.”
Her opponent in the semis will be another familiar face after second seed Alison Waters saw off the challenge of Emily Whitlock in straight games, dominating the second half of each game to reach an 11th semi-final.
“I wasn’t taking anything lightly, we have different styles of play which always makes it interesting,” said Waters. “We could both maybe do with taking some of each other’s game! I felt I played well and I’m happy to get off in three.”
Duncalf and Waters have met seven times in the Nationals, Waters winning five with Duncalf’s two both coming in the only finals they’ve contested.
The fourth and fifth seeds also made it through in the men’s matches, Chris Simpson and James Willstrop both winning in four games in just the hour mark. Simpson ended the run of Welsh qualifier Joel Makin while Willstrop recovered from a game down to beat U21 finalist George Parker.
“Joel’s had some great wins and when I saw his results I knew it would be tough,” said Simpson. “He was reading my shots better than I was reading his for the first two games and it took me a while to get into it.”
Willstrop, and the large crowd, were impressed by Parker’s skill and determination. “He made me work really hard for that,” admitted the two-time champion. “The atmosphere is building here already, it’s going to be buzzing at the weekend,” predicted Willstrop.
In the evening quarter-final session, top seeds Nick Matthew and Laura Massaro eased through to the semis with straight game wins over Adrian Waller and Victoria Lust, both matches taking half an hour.
Matthew, looking to extend his record haul of titles to eight, is taking it a step at a time; “There are two matches to go and I’m not thinking past tomorrow – ten years ago I wouldn’t have believed I could win seven times, and I’m not as quick as I was but I do have more of a brain in me to make up for that!”
Massaro was happy with her match; “I thought I played well, getting stronger as the match went on. Vicky’s improved a lot so to win in three is never easy. I was disappointed not to win last year as top seed, SJ played so well, but having done so well on the PSA tour I’d really like to get my name on the trophy again,” said Massaro, champion in 2011 and 2012.
Massaro will meet Wales’ Tesni Evans, who saved a match ball in the final game of a tremendous five-setter against Fiona Moverley to reach the semis for the first time.
“I’d never played her before and I never want to play her again!” joked Tesni. “It was a really good match, but I was so nervous in the fourth and fifth I don’t know how I won it,” added Evans. “I just stuck in and thankfully it came off in the end.”
Matthew will face Daryl Selby, who survived a long, but thoroughly entertaining encounter with Scotland’s Greg Lobban, twice coming back from a game behind to finally secure the win with Lobban running on fumes at the end of the decider.
“Matches like that are the reason I started playing squash,” said Selby. “It was great fun, there was some really good quality headless stuff in there which makes for a good match. The battle was good and fair, and Greg did himself and Scotland proud.
“Playing Nick again will be tough, he’s obviously playing well, but I played pretty well there so hopefully it will be another good battle.”
There were a number of shocks again in the Masters on day four.
In the Men’s Over 45s, Yorkshire’s Lee Scott continued his great run with a comfortable victory over 5/8 seed Andy Normile (Surrey) proving that yesterday’s victory over favourite Yawar Abbas was no fluke. Unfortunately, it was disaster for second seed Andrew Cross (D&C) who was forced to retire in his game against Stuart Summers (Hampshire).
The Men’s Over 75s saw two of the oldest players in the tournament gracing the court as 79 year old Patrick Kirton defeated 80 year old Lance Kinder, playing in his 30th Nationals.
In the Women’s Over 45’s, both the 3/4 seeds, Andrea Santamaria (Yorkshire) and Isabelle Tyrrell (Nottinghamshire), fell unexpectedly. Santamaria lost in four to Nikki Fowler (Northants) while Tyrrell was crushed by the impressive Claire Roscoe (Cheshire) for only four points.
Hilary Kenyon (Cheshire) caused the only upset in the Over 50s as she fought back after a slow start to defeat 3/4 Rachel Woolford (Warwickshire) 3-1 to set up a semi-final against multiple Nationals Champion Mandy Akin (Kent).
In the Women’s Over 55s, Leslie Sturgess (Derbyshire) prevented a top 4 semi-final line up with a great win over 3/4 seed Sarah Howlett (Cambridgeshire).
Pictures by STEVE CUBBINS (squashsite.co.uk) courtesy of England Squash