2021 Finals – Reports & Reaction

British National Squash Championships 2021 : Day FOUR, FINALS

 [1] Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-1 Georgina Kennedy (Eng)  9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (39m)

[1] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 [3] Adrian Waller (Eng)                        11-7, 11-2 , 11-1 (40m)

Perry Wins Third Nationals Title

England’s Sarah-Jane Perry has won her third British National Championship title following a 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 victory over compatriot Georgina Kennedy in the final at Manchester’s Natonal Squash Centre.

Both players have enjoyed impressive weeks in Manchester with Perry battling past Welshwoman Emily Whitlock in the semi-finals to reach her fourth final, while Kennedy axed two-time champion Tesni Evans to reach her first final at the Nationals.

In the first, Perry, who was the defending champion coming into this week, found herself on the backfoot as Kennedy got off to a lightning quick start, taking the ball in short and causing problems for the 31-year-old at the front of the court.

The World No.6 soon got back on track in the second though as she found her accuracy to draw level, before errors from Kennedy – who has been in impressive form on the PSA Challenger Tour – that saw the World No.74 rush her play allowed Perry to get on top as she took advantage of the quick rallies to move into a 2-1 lead.

24-year-old Kennedy continued to try and get herself back into the match in the fourth but by then the experienced Perry had fully settled into her rhythm and closed out 11-6 to take her third Nationals title, adding to her victories in 2020 and 2015.

“I had to give myself a team talk every rally today,” said Perry in her post-match interview.

“The one beforehand clearly didn’t give me a kick up the bum enough, she started like a rocket as you’d expect and she caught me out with so many short balls in that first game, where I hit ok shots but she was fearless in attacking it. She’s playing really well, I had to really force myself up the court today and it’s not something I’ve done amazingly well over my whole career but I know it’s better when I do. I felt a bit sluggish and a bit tired today but I knew I had to do that and I’m really pleased I managed to cover the short balls and get on the volley more.

“It’s not too much of a secret that I almost didn’t play this week. I was struggling a bit with a niggle in my knee, not the one that was a problem yesterday, the other one! But it cleared up just in time and it’s a special title, so I really wanted to come and defend it and I’m glad I did. Some of my family have come today, my mum is a little unwell so she couldn’t make it, but my dad, my partner and my god kids are all here, so they were my coaches in between games. If you add their IQs together then you get about double Rob’s [Owen]!

“Last few points, I was just saying ‘push, push’. If I can inspire any of these kids that are watching, I’ve got to leave everything out there, so that’s what I was thinking about towards the end.”

Kennedy said: 

“It’s been a really good week for me.

“Always disappointed to lose but I have to give credit to SJ because she made me really uncomfortable on the court today and I didn’t really have an answer for how she was playing, so it’s thoroughly deserved.

“I can’t have any complaints about my week, it’s the first time I’ve played Nationals since 2016 before I went off to Uni, so if you had of told me a few months ago, I would’ve been standing here in the final – I’d have taken that all day long. Thank you to everyone for putting this event on.”

Result: [1] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) bt Georgina Kennedy (ENG) 3-1: 9-11, 11-4, 11-8, 11-6 (39m)

Makin Wins First Nationals Title

World No.10 Joel Makin has made history by becoming the first Welsh male player to win the British National Championships title following his 11-7, 11-2, 11-1 victory over England’s Adrian Waller.

Makin was the only player to have not dropped a single game throughout this week in Manchester, while Waller fought through a brutal 83-battle with compatriot George Parker last night to reach the final – as both players searched for their first Nationals title today.

However, it was to be Makin’s day as he was unstoppable to avenge his defeat in last year’s final to James Willstrop and finally get his hands on the title.

A tight first game saw Makin try and make the match physical, lengthening the rallies to draw Waller into his game plan as he managed to sneak a one-game lead. From then on, it was one way traffic as the Welshman fully exerted his authority, taking advantage of every loose ball to romp home for the loss of just three points in the next two games.

“The last time I got through to the final it was a tough loss for me,” said Makin.

“It gave me a lot to go away with and work on, so I wanted to come into this week and put that right. It was before lockdown and COVID, so I had a lot of time to think about it and turn things around. I really wanted to come here, play well and put in a solid and professional performance and 3-0 – I was happy with that for sure.

“I like to out position people, that’s the part of the sport I like. Taking a lot of pace through the middle, volleying and taking early and working people – that’s what I enjoy about it and that’s how I like to play. I got that right this week.

“You could look at last year as being the first final that I’d made, but I wasn’t looking at it like that, I wasn’t happy with it. James [Willstrop] put together a brilliant performance and you have to take that on the chin, he played quality and he exposed some of my qualities but it gave me time to go away and work on it and that’s what you need sometimes.

“It’s exciting having squash back in the UK, especially with a proper crowd and hopefully it grows over the next few weeks. We enjoy it as professional players, it’s been a tough year for everyone and we’ve spent a lot of time in Egypt but we enjoy playing the UK events, so I’m looking forward to it and I should be sharp for next week.”

Waller said:

“I’m quite proud with how I battled through this week.

“The last two matches were really long and really hard, finished late last night, so I’m pretty proud to come through those first three matches but today was probably one match too far and Joel was too strong. Otherwise, happy to be back playing and feeling stronger and just going to try and kick on from here in the next few weeks. Try to work forward from here.”

Result: [1] Joel Makin (WAL) bt [3] Adrian Waller (ENG) 3-0: 11-7, 11-2, 11-1 (40m)