The 2022 British Nationals got under way today with two rounds of Men’s qualifying at the National Squash Centre. Withdrawals resulted in there being no qualifying competition in the Women’s event, and one of today’s afternoon matches was a qualifying final, the other three finals being played in the evening session.
You can follow the matches on Live Scoring and our social feeds, watch Live on SquashTV and more, and we’ll have reports and reaction right here with a roundup to follow at the end of the day.
Reports & Reaction – Qualifying Finals
Creed Takes Out Sheen
Welsh World No.130 Peter Creed booked his spot in the main draw after a comfortable 3-0 victory over Englishman Connor Sheen.
Creed, who beat World No.273 Hasnaat Farooqi earlier in the day, flew around court and picked up most of what Sheen was able to throw at him.
For his part, Sheen looked to be feeling the effects of a foot injury and struggled with his movement into the front of the court. Creed took full advantage and ran out with an 11-2, 11-2, 11-4 victory.
“I’ve been there before on PSA when someone has had a slight niggle, you change the way you’re playing and your head can go out of the window a little bit,” said Creed.
“It doesn’t get easier the older you get, so I’m just happy to get off really. I hope Connor is alright, you could see from the knock-up he was struggling.
“It’s prestigious and it’s a good title to win for anyone. I didn’t have much on this year, it was a bit quiet for me on the PSA World Tour. It’s a great event and it’s always a pleasure to play on the glass court.”
Result : Peter Creed (WAL) bt Connor Sheen (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-2, 11-4 (14m)
Smith Advances to Main Draw
England’s Ben Smith got the better of the Isle of Man’s Oscar Hill in straight games to reach the main draw of the British Nationals for the first time.
Smith had failed to make it out of the qualifying round on three previous appearances at the prestigious event but followed up a first qualifying round defeat of Englishman Will Salter on court three with a 3-0 win over World No.828 Oscar Hill on the glass court.
That. Was. Flat. 😳
Oscar Hill with a ripper ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/AX6rpcmtIn
— 🏴 England Squash (@englandsr) June 14, 2022
The World No.132 put in a clinical display and hit his targets throughout the 22-minute fixture to seal his spot in the latter stage of the competition.
“It’s a lot different [on the glass compared to the traditional court], but I’ve played on this court enough times to know how it plays, so it’s quite easy to get used to it pretty quickly,” said 20-year-old Smith.
“The season’s going well, I’ve just got to keep that consistency. I know I can play at a high level, it’s just about doing it on a regular basis.”
Hill would later be awarded the Lucky Loser spot after the withdrawal of seventh seed George Parker earlier in the day.
Result : Ben Smith (ENG) bt Oscar Hill (IOM) 3-0: 11-4, 11-2, 11-8 (22m)
Jenkins Downs Broadberry
World No.109 Miles Jenkins has reached the main draw of the British Nationals for a second consecutive year after toppling Paul Broadberry in straight games in an all-English fixture.
Jenkins, from Chichester, was back in action following his win over Hassan Khalil in the first round of qualifying.
The 27-year-old snuck a tight opening game but was in control during the final two games as he closed out an 11-9, 11-3, 11-1 victory in 26 minutes.
Jenkins will line up against Scotland’s No.6 seed Greg Lobban in round one of the main draw.
“I just had to settle on the court to start with, it was quite tricky and I didn’t play on it this morning,” said Jenkins.
“To be fair to Paul, he was putting in decent straight drops and attacking me from the start. He was pretty good for the first five minutes but he had to be tougher to be honest as the game went on, there were too many errors really. I’m happy with it overall.
“It’s good to be fit and my body is in okay shape. I think everyone needs a break after this so they can get ready for the next season, but I’m happy that I’m still playing pretty well at the end of the season.”
Result : Miles Jenkins (ENG) bt Paul Broadberry (ENG) 3-0: 11-9, 11-3, 11-1 (26m)
Withington Battles Past Malik To Reach Main Draw
In the third match on the glass court at the National Squash Centre, local favourite Finnlay Withington was in action against World No.172 Perry Malik. This match was for a place in the main draw due to withdrawals shortening the men’s qualifying draw.
Withington was on top in the opening game and used his skill and attacking flair to move Malik into all four corners of the court and take the opening game 11-6.
In a topsy-turvy third game, Withington lead 6-1 but lost his concentration as Malik started to claw his way back by finding winners from the middle of the court. Malik made two crucial errors in the tiebreak and lost the game 13-11 giving the Manchester player a 2-0 lead.
Despite capturing the third game, Malik was unable to convert the fourth game and Withington booked his place in the main draw for the first time in his career.
Withington had this to say after his win:
“I thought he might come back from 2-0 which would have made it a bit horrible. Thanks to the crowd for turning up for my match.
“Yeah, they’ve just got to realise that I’m coming for them.
“I know this court pretty well, these lights can be blinding so I tried to lift but I didn’t do it as well as I’d like.”
Qualifying Round One :
Sheen Recovers from Game Down to Beat Hearst
England’s World No.241 Connor Sheen advanced to the final qualifying round of the 2022 British Nationals Squash Championships after the man from Liverpool came back from a game down to beat Northern Ireland’s Stephen Hearst.
It was a slow start from 25-year-old Sheen, who found the tin too regularly in the opening game to make a serious dent on the scoreboard, with a clinical showing from Hearst seeing the World No.736 take a surprise one-game lead.
Sheen responded well and cut out the errors in the second game though, finding his attacking range to draw level. He had more breathing space in the third as he kept his opponent behind him and pounced on any loose shots from Hearst to take the lead for the first time.
Sheen had the bit between his teeth in the fourth and closed out the win to record a 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 victory which will see him take on either Welshman Peter Creed or compatriot Hasnaat Farooqi in the final round of qualifying later today.
“When you play on the Challenger Tour, the two matches a day doesn’t really bother you as much, you’re used to it, and you train twice a day usually,” said Sheen.
“It’s never easy playing the first match on the glass, I don’t really get much chance to get on a glass court, so it was tough, but I managed to squeeze through in the end.”
Over on court three, Ben Smith managed to get the better of fellow Englishman Will Salter, winning 16-14, 11-8, 11-7 in 42 minutes. Smith will play Oscar Hill for a place in the main draw.
Connor Sheen (ENG) bt Stephen Hearst (NIR) 3-1: 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6 (27m)
Ben Smith (ENG) bt Will Salter (ENG) 3-0: 16-14, 11-8, 11-7 (42m)
Creed Downs Farooqi
Welshman Peter Creed booked his spot in the final round of qualifying courtesy of a dominant 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 victory over England’s Hasnaat Farooqi.
The experienced Creed, a former World No.50, had too much for World No.273 Farooqi and he will line up against Liverpool’s Connor Sheen in the next round.
The 35-year-old will be back on court at 17:30 when he lines up against the World No.241.
“It was a long drive this morning, so I wanted to get on and off as quickly as possible really,” said Creed.
“The older you get, you should get more time not less time [to prepare]. I’m happy to win, I’ve never played Connor before, it will be a nice, non-contact, normal game of squash, it will be nice.
“Unless you train on a glass court all the time, the first match can always be a little bit tricky. I didn’t get much glass court time in my career, a little bit here and there, but it’s the same for both players. I know if it’s going to be a little bit difficult for me, it’s going to be the same for my opponent.”
Result : Peter Creed (WAL) bt Hasnaat Farooqi (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-3, 11-3 (23m)
Jenkins beats Khalil
Over on court three, World No.109 Miles Jenkins booked his place in the qualifying finals after beating compatriot Hassan Khalil 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-4 in 30 minutes.
Finnlay Withington (ENG) bt Perry Malik (ENG) 3-1: 11-6, 13-11, 7-11, 11-8 (48m)
Miles Jenkins (ENG) bt Hassan Khalil (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-4 (30m)
Broadberry Downs Doughty To Progress
In the last match of the first qualifying session, Paul Broadberry booked his place in the qualifying finals after beating Lewis Doughty in four games.
The Nottingham-based player dropped the first game to Doughty as he struggled to find his range and timing on the glass court.
From here, however, Broadberry became increasingly more comfortable and was able to manoeuvre Doughty into difficult positions and capitalise on loose drives. After equalising at 1-1, Broadberry started to express himself at the front of the court and forced his opponent into tough movements and took the game 11-4 to lead 2-1.
Broadberry sealed the win 11-8 in the fourth game and has set up a match later today with Miles Jenkins for a spot in the main draw.
Broadberry’s thoughts after the match:
“I’m really happy with that, I think that’s the first win I’ve had in the Nationals so really excited to get one on the board. It’s good to play on the glass court, I’ve grown up playing on a glass court at St Georges’s Hill and moving to Nottingham which has one too, I like the glass court and a good match with Lewis.
“I think in the first game I was trying to not make errors and when you move from traditional courts to glass it’s easy to judge it wrong and I was happy to come back from a game down and a good match in the end.
“I’m looking forward to my next match. I live in the same area as Miles so I’ve seen him play quite a lot so it should be good and I’m looking forward to it.”
Result : Paul Broadberry (ENG) bt Lewis Doughty (ENG) 3-1: 8-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8 (50m)