Nationals 2021 : Day ONE – Glass Court Reaction

The 2021 British National Championships get under way at the National Squash Centre in Manchester today, with sixteen first round matches.

You can watch the matches live, follow the updates on our social media feeds, and we’ll have reports, reaction and photos right here, with an end of day roundup once it’s all over.

British National Squash Championships 2021 : Day ONE

Glass Court
12.00   [3] Emily Whitlock (Wal) 3-0 Margot Prow (Eng)               11-4, 11-1, 11-3 (21m)
12.45   [4] Greg Lobban (Sco) 3-2 Sam Todd (Eng)     11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3 (61m)
13.45   [1] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-0 Jasmin Kalar (Eng)             11-6, 11-4, 11-4 (18m)
14.30   [1] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 Rory Stewart (Sco)                      11-4, 11-8, 11-7 (51m)

17.30   [4] Lucy Turmel (Eng) 3-0 Katie Malliff (Eng)                  18-16, 11-8, 11-6 (46m)
18.00  Georgina Kennedy (Eng) 3-0 Lisa Aitken (Sco)                 13-11, 11-8, 11-4 (41m)
18.45   [3] Adrian Waller (Eng) 3-0 Connor Sheen (Eng)            12-10, 11-6, 11-6 (33m)
19.30   [2] Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-0 Saran Nghiem (Eng)                11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (22m)
20.00   [2] James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 Miles Jenkins (Eng)    8-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-7 (52m)


Whitlock Dominant Against Prow

Wales’ Emily Whitlock was on top form against England’s Margot Prow as she got her 2021 British National Championships campaign off to the perfect start at Manchester’s National Squash Centre.

The 27-year-old oozed confidence and control in all three games and comfortably put Prow to the sword by an 11-4, 11-1, 11-3 scoreline to advance to the quarter finals, where she will face either England’s Alicia Mead after she defeated compatriot Anna Kimberley on court three, with the latter forced to retire in the fourth game.

“I was travelling from home and there was an incident on the M56 and we were stuck in traffic and I was like “oh no, I’m on the glass!”,” said Whitlock afterwards.

“I haven’t hit on this glass court in yonks, so I started almost panicking, like I’m 27-years-old and I’ve forgotten how to play squash. My dad said: ‘You turn up 20 minutes before and you’ll be fine’.

“It’s just so different when it’s a tournament. I’m happy with seeing the ball for one, the length I got and you’re playing with someone brand new. I’ve never met Margot before, let alone played and practiced with her, it was all new and especially with this new normal, but it was good to get the win.

“Luckily with SquashTV filming every match nearly and the YouTube stream for the traditional court as well, being able to look back on that because I want to see what’s going on. I don’t really watch my matches back, I should really. You can prepare for it that way or make sure you eat good food, relax – there are worst things in the world than missing a practice slot.”

Result:  [3] Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt Margot Prow (ENG) 3-0: 11-4, 11-1, 11-3 (21m)

Lobban Prevails in Todd Test

Scotland’s Greg Lobban prevailed against English rising talent Sam Todd in a tough five-game battle on the opening day of action at the British National Championships.

Lobban took a tightly contested first game, before Todd struck back, showcasing his talent, in the second to draw back level. The two Brits continued to go toe-to-toe in the third and fourth, with both taking a game each to force the match a tense fifth.


The Scot’s experience seemed to hand him the advantage as he was able to take the lead and then never look back in the fifth as he saw out the 61 minute victory.

Lobban will face England’s Declan James in the quarter finals tomorrow.

“I know Sam pretty well and train with him a little bit,” said Lobban after.


“I know how dangerous he is and knew it was going to be tit-for-tat and if I didn’t have my quality, he was going to outplay me. Even at such a young age, he has got the quality to take it to the top guys at certain opportunities in the match. I knew, I had to be professional, that’s all I talked about going into the match and I got it done in the last game, pleased to be through.

“I’ll try and take that thought into my next match and hopefully try and improve my quality and get that a little better for the next round. Certainly tested early and the standard of UK squash at the moment is really strong, it’s maybe not the top guys like we used to have, but it’s got strength in depth in both the guys and girls and you’re going to have some tough matches from the first round.

“Last year at the Manchester Open we didn’t have anyone, this is the first time we’ve been back at this venue since that event and it’s nice to see a few people watching and enjoying the squash. Hopefully we can get some more people in in the evening sessions and it should be a good next few weeks.”

Result:  [4] Greg Lobban (SCO) bt Sam Todd (ENG) 3-2: 11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-3 (61m)

Perry Gets Title Defence Under Way

English No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry got her British Nationals title defence off to the perfect start with an 11-6, 11-4, 11-4 victory over compatriot Jasmin Kalar.

Perry conquered fellow Englishwoman Jasmine Hutton in the final last year to lift the title and the top seed is on course to be the one to beat once again this year as she axed 21-year-old Kalar, who made her debut on the PSA Tour this year.

Perry will face Rachael Chadwick for a place in the semi-finals tomorrow at the National Squash Centre.

“I am one of the more experienced players in the draw,” said Perry following her win.

“I have to try and use that to my advantage in every round. There’s a lot of players nipping at the heels of the more experienced players, which is good for British squash. I’ve just got to try and keep them all at bay, we’ve not actually played before, but I’ve seen her name in a few tournaments recently and she has been doing alright in those. I didn’t want to come out here and not give her respect, because she definitely deserves that. I thought she did well and took the game to me – I love to see that in the younger players.

“I think one of the parts of that experience is playing on glass courts and it can be a daunting thing to walk on here. I think for those younger players they seem to have that sorted, they’re a step ahead of where I was.”

Result:  [1] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Jasmin Kalar (ENG) 3-0: 11-6, 11-4, 11-4 (18m)

Makin Progresses to Quarters

Wales’ top seed Joel Makin got his British Nationals title charge off to an immaculate start against Scotland’s Rory Stewart as he won his opening round 11-4, 11-8, 11-7 at the National Squash Centre.

It was a near perfect start for Makin in the opening game as he came out of the blocks firing, leaving Stewart struggling to come up with any answers to Makin’s well executed game plan.

Stewart began to find his feet in the second game and showed his talents that have seen him perform well on the PSA Challenger Tour recently. However, it was Makin who managed his game plan better and was focused from the outset to close out in 51 minutes.

The Welshman will face England’s Nathan Lake in the next round following his win over Richie Fallows on court three.

“I know Rory is tricky, he’s won about three of the tournaments around the UK,” said Makin in his post-match interview.

“He’s on the way up and he just broke the top 100 for the first-time last week. I know he’s in form and he’s tricky, he has some nice skills, he’s massive through the middle, so I was hitting it narrow and he was cutting me off, so I need to adjust that a little bit.

“The Commonwealth Games is the biggest thing for us really. I think of it as our chance to get out of the squash audience, get on TV and get in front of a new crowd and attract new people. I think people can now see how exciting and fast paced it is. How well the camera footage can pick it up compared to the footage a few years ago when you perhaps couldn’t see that. It’s exciting for us and to get a win there is massive.

“Me and Tesni have been playing the last couple of weeks, getting into it – the doubles is pretty different, so you need to practice a lot and the players that do are generally better. But we’ll get into it in the next couple of months.

“We’re not like other sports, like athletics where they have three big events a year, we have 12 major tournaments before next year, so you can’t really have a year to prepare but I’ll set aside six weeks to get as prepared as I can.”

Result:  [1] Joel Makin (WAL) bt Rory Stewart (SCO) 3-0: 11-4, 11-8, 11-7 (51m)

Turmel Passes Malliff Battle

England’s Lucy Turmel, who is one of the top seeds in Manchester this week, was put through her paces by 18-year-old Katie Malliff in their opening round encounter at the National Squash Centre.

No.4 seed Turmel was pushed hard in the tie-break of the first game as Malliff kept finding a way back into the match every time her compatriot pushed ahead. The two traded points all the way to 18-16 in a tight 24-minute game that eventually went the way of Turmel.

From then on Turmel was able to just stay ahead of her younger compatriot to keep her at bay and found her length to let her accurate hitting come to the fore.

“Katie is a really good player and I knew that she was dangerous if you left the ball in places that she could attack,” said Turmel.

“In the first game, she was creating opportunities, but I was also leaving the balls in areas that enabled her to take the ball in short, which she does really well. I had to stick in the first, I think I had about six game balls but credit to Katie, because she’s a great player.

“I just kept trying to find my corners, which was my objective before the match started but I wasn’t really managing to do that and find the back corners. The longer I was on court in the first actually gave me an opportunity to find the corners and get more comfortable on the court.

“I was most pleased with winning the first. I’m proud I managed to win that because it was a tough one and point for point at the end, but I wasn’t too happy with the rest of it to be honest.”

Result: [4] Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Katie Malliff (ENG) 3-0: 18-16, 11-8, 11-6 (46m)

Kennedy Continues Hot Streak of Form

England’s Georgina Kennedy has booked her place in the quarter finals of the British National Championships following a 13-11, 11-8, 11-4 victory over Scotland’s Lisa Aitken.

Kennedy has been impressing on the PSA Challenger Tour of late, winning five titles across June and July and scooping the Player of the Month award for two months on the bounce and the Englishwoman ensured that form continued as she took to the glass court at the National Squash Centre.

Kennedy and Aitken had last met at the weekend in the final of the Berkhamsted Linksap Open which the 24-year-old claimed in straight-games, however, Aitken pushed her much harder this time around with Kennedy forced to use her second game ball to close out in the first.

The second game saw both players continue to push each other but this time Kennedy was able to double her lead, which left Aitken with too much to do in the third as Kennedy closed out in three.

She will face compatriot Lucy Turmel for a place in the last four.

“The first game was definitely crucial,” commented Kennedy after her round one win.

“I’m not sure how long it was, but it felt pretty physical and Lisa honestly had me on the back foot I think, so it was important that I stuck in the rallies and just tried to find my targets a bit. I think from going from playing on the hard backs to the glass court, I felt a bit uncomfortable on there. Lisa is so clinical with everything she does, any loose shot I was in trouble, so I just had to get through that.

“It’s been a really amazing season so far. I was at University in America and then COVID happened, so I was in a bit of a dodgy position but it actually worked out well for me. I had a year of such intense training with my coach Ben Ford just ironing out a lot of stuff, so I owe a lot of my success to him. I’ve been training really hard and I’m just happy to be able to compete against these top girls.

“I feel like technically I have improved a lot recently. My short game has been coming on a lot, I’m not sure if I executed it today but I don’t feel as though I have to rely on my B game which is run around like a headless chicken. I feel like my short game has come on a lot and hopefully I’ll be able to prove that this week.”

Result: Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt Lisa Aitken (SCO) 3-0: 13-11, 11-8, 11-4 (41m)

Waller Reaches Quarter Finals

England’s World No.21 Adrian Waller defeated fellow Englishman Connor Sheen 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 in 33 minutes to reach the last eight of the British National Championships.

The experienced 31-year-old took a while to settle into his game plan with the first game becoming a tightly contested affair as World No.134 Sheen took his opportunity on the glass court to push his compatriot all the way to a tie-break.

However, it was Waller who was able to close out, playing the bigger points better to then create a platform for his win, seeing out the next two games by an 11-6 margin to set up an exciting quarter final with Patrick Rooney tomorrow evening in Manchester.

“It felt difficult,” admitted Waller in his post-match interview.

“I think everyone has probably said today that getting back onto a glass court for the first time is a little bit harder than it sometimes looks. You saw that in the match today that it was a bit scrappy in that first game in the first period. Luckily I was a little bit more on top from errors and not seeing the ball, other than that it was good to settle in.

“It can disrupt your movement and your footwork. You see someone going for a ball and have to check back or not read it properly and you know whether their opponent has caught them out from a good shot or caught them out from not seeing it properly. I think now the first match is out of the way it feels more comfortable and tomorrow I will probably just need the warm up, but that also comes from experience.

“Someone like James [Willstrop], who will come out later, I don’t know how he adjusts in three shots, he has so much experience and clarity of how he hits the ball.”

Result: [3] Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Connor Sheen (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-6, 11-6 (33m)

Masterclass from Evans to Seal Quarters Place

It was a dominant performance from Wales’ No.2 seed Tesni Evans against English youngster Saran Nghiem to book her place in the quarter finals of the British Nationals.

Evans has a lot of good memories on the National Squash Centre glass court from breakthrough World Championship wins on the PSA Tour to two victories in this tournament itself and the Welshwoman ensured her tournament started brightly this time around as she claimed a 3-0 victory on day one.

Nghiem, who is currently ranked at World No.183 after making her debut on the PSA Tour earlier this year, put together some good moments but ultimately did not have enough to trouble an experienced Evans who is targeting a third Nationals title.

Up next for Evans will be England’s Jasmine Hutton.

“I love this court and I love being back here,” said Evans.

“I’ve been so excited to play all day and I had to wait until the last one! It’s been good to see so many good juniors, like Saran, playing and I think if ever we are seeing a new generation of players, not just on the PSA Tour, but also on the British circuit.

“I had a little mishap on social media, which was kindly posted out by SJ [Perry] herself! The person who runs that account thought that I was defending champion and I’m not sadly. I woke up this morning, didn’t read it, just shared it and then got a message from SJ saying “Well if you are defending champ then you better bring the trophy back!” and then when I saw I realised, deleted it and clarified that wasn’t the case.

“I hope it comes down to us two, but it’s a very tough draw. There are some very good players along the way for both of us, I’m just taking each match as it comes and hope to improve every tournament I play. I’m not focused on reaching the final, I just want to play as many maches as I can. There are a lot of good players.”

Result: [2] Tesni Evans (WAL) bt Saran Nghiem (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-5, 11-5 (22m)

Willstrop Begins Title Defence

England’s former World No.1 James Willstrop was forced to do things the hard way as he got his title defence under way at the British National Championships against compatriot Miles Jenkins.

World No.143 Jenkins, who recently won the Arion Homes Cheetham Hill Classic title on the PSA Challenger Tour, continued to show his purple patch of form as he took the game to Willstrop, playing with tight accuracy and not allowing the renowned Englishman to get into his shot making rhythm as he took a surprise first game.

Willstrop, who has won the Nationals title four times including last year, managed to work his way back into the match though, using his experience to pick his moments and find his targets to draw back level before taking a comfortable third game to go 2-1 up.

A fightback from Jenkins came in the fourth as he put Willstrop under pressure at times but it was not enough to stop the 37-year-old from taking the win in the end and booking a quarter final slot against George Parker.

“He’s been playing for a month in a lot of tournaments, he’s really sharp at the moment and I haven’t had as many match sharpeners as he has, so I was mentally ready for it but he didn’t give me any chances,” said Willstrop afterwards.

“We just had to keep rallying down the backhand side, not the most entertaining maybe but the accuracy was great down the left wall. I just couldn’t find the chances to get in, I wanted to but I couldn’t get there and it was credit to the build-up and length play of him, he made it very tough.

“There was a lot of good changes of pace and things, but it was down the left wall and sometimes you have to stick with it and things start to happen in the middle of games. I’ve done it enough times and I know how these things pan out, so I use my experience to try and help that along.

“It the young players’ time very soon, maybe even now. I’ve just been lucky with COVID keeping the old dogs in it, that’s probably favoured us because the young guys haven’t had chance to build up the points. I’ll take it and if I can keep playing like that against someone of that calibre then I’ll take it.”

Result: [2] James Willstrop (ENG) bt Miles Jenkins (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-5, 11-2, 11-7 (52m)