Still going strong: Yorkshire squash vets master Nationals and leave Willstrop awestruck
The British National Championships ended on Sunday evening at Sportcity in Manchester. The finals were played out in front of a packed and willing audience in the main arena and it is always one of my favourite occasions in which to be involved.
So that being said I was glad I made it to finals day for another match against Nick Matthew. He beat me 3-1 this time but the quality of squash was high; not too much to be disappointed with.
I have learnt lately to try and judge the performance over the result, and am disappointed not to win but always take pleasure if the quality of the output is high.
The first two games were particularly fierce and Nick was better in the third and fourth.
Alison Waters made it back-to-back titles in the women’s event with a win over first-time finalist Madeline Perry from Northern Ireland.
Perry is based in Yorkshire and took a massive scalp by beating Laura Massaro, the world number two, in the semi-finals to give her her first final berth at the age of 37.
It is to her great credit that she is playing such a physically demanding sport to such a level at that age, as any retiree would attest.
In fact, I at 30 can attest it’s hard enough at that now let alone at 37. It’s a fabulous event though, where the age group titles are played alongside the professional event players.
The centre is packed all week long and the atmosphere and buzz is exciting for the sport. In fact, in the masters events this year Yorkshire registered their biggest title haul.
Former world number three Simon Parke led the way by winning the British men’s over-35 title and other Yorkshire winners included Claire Walker, Andrea Santa Maria and Adrian Wright.
Andrea and Julie Field, finalist in the women’s O55 category, are at Pontefract Squash Club on a regular basis, training at almost professional levels.
Their commitment is admirable and their results in masters squash show the effort and dedication they have given the sport.
Masters squash is as strong and therefore as tough as ever. How incredible too that the O75 final was a 53 minute five-setter between Pat Kirton and Lance Kinder.
A total of 53 minutes is a mighty long time to be playing squash continuously; I hear 40-year-olds trying to tell me they are too old for the game.
The 2014 Nationals was another success and, as always, it was a pleasure to be involved again. All in squash in Manchester and all at England Squash and Racketball are to be congratulated for building a top-notch event over the years.
Pictures by Michael Catling