Injury forces Barker and Evans out of British National Championships
World number seven and joint third seed Peter Barker has been forced to withdraw from this week’s British National Championships in Manchester due to injury.
The 30-year-old left-hander, who finished runner up at the Motor City Open last month, suffered a calf injury during his straight-games quarter-final defeat by second seed Greg Gaultier at the Swedish Open last week.
Barker, who described his calf as ‘very tight’, said: “I don’t want to tear it again if I continue to play.”
The Essex-based ace was sidelined for two months after tearing his calf in the second round of the 2013 World Championship in November and now faces a race against time to be fit for the Windy City Open in two weeks time, where he is seeded eighth for the $115,000 World Series event in Chicago.
As a result of Barker’s withdrawal, world number 20 Adrian Grant is the new 3/4 seed in the bottom half of the draw and opens his campaign against world number 115 Chris Fuller.
Meanwhile, Surrey’s Joe Lee is promoted to the 5/8 seeding in the top half of the draw and faces a qualifier in the last 32.
Nottinghamshire’s Declan James is also seeded for the first time in the event at 9/16 and instead of facing second seed James Willstrop in the opening round, James will meet a qualifier on Wednesday. Scotland’s Kevin Moran, who has been spared qualifying, is Willstrop’s new first round opponent.
Lincolnshire’s Adam Auckland has also been promoted into the main draw following the withdrawal of Sussex’s Oliver Pett and will play Scotland’s Greg Lobban in round one.
In the women’s draw, Welsh number one Tesni Evans, who was scheduled to face Laura Massaro in the first round, has also withdrawn with Carrie Ramsey taking her place.
Gutted to have to withdraw from nationals this week! Time to get it sorted before upcoming tournaments start soon! #mycurseofnationals
— Tesni Evans (@tesnievans) February 10, 2014
Pictures by Michael Catling
I find it quite staggering to find the number of former England Junior International players who have not entered the National Championships. I first noticed this pattern at the Under 23 nationals when around 75% of the entries were still in the Under 19 age group and many of those obliged to enter as part of the selection process for the World U19 Championships four months later. Many have chosen the academic route to other careers, some, thanks to earlier successes, have gained scholarships at top American Universities, “mission accomplished” many would say ! With funding involved to cover the support and focus from ESR, actually Sport England, it does appear to have been a poor investment if these players lack the inclination, or have not been inspired and motivated, to pursue Squash as a career, despite their obvious talent. Surely there must be something fundamentally wrong with a system that has such a considerable drop-out rate. Five or six years of National Squad involvement totally wasted in the big picture. Blinkered vision leaves many out in the cold, or lacking the stability and reliability of a transparent structured programme. Is it any wonder that so many players become disenchanted with the idea of Squash as a career ?