Day TWO : Round ONE at the NSC

The 2022 British Nationals continue today with Round One of the Men’s and Women’s draws at the National Squash Centre, following yesterday’s qualifying matches.

Action takes place on two courts, and 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.

British National Squash Championships 2022 : Day TWO, Round ONE

[1] Emily Whitlock (Wal) 3-0 Alison Thomson (Sco)   11-4, 11-4, 11-3 (25m)
[8] Anna Kimberley (Eng) 3-0 Katie Cox (Eng)  11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (26m)

[2] Joel Makin (Wal) 3-0 Charlie Lee (Eng)   11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (45m)
Curtis Malik (Eng) 3-0 [LL] Oscar Hill (IoM)   11-0, 11-6, 11-0 (19m)

Alicia Mead (Eng) w/o [5] Millie Tomlinson (Eng)      Millie w/d
[3] Jasmine Hutton (Eng) 3-0 Katie Wells (Eng)   12-10, 11-5, 11-7 (25m)

[3] Patrick Rooney (Eng) 3-2 [Q] Finnlay Withington (Eng)   9-11, 11-8, 11-2, 5-11, 11-2 (44m)
[6] Greg Lobban (Sco) 3-1 [Q] Miles Jenkins (Eng)   11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 (50m)

[2] Lucy Turmel (Eng) 3-0 Lowri Roberts (Wal)   11-5, 11-4, 11-4 (22m)
[8] Grace Gear (Eng) 3-0 Amy Royle (Eng)   11-7, 11-3, 11-3 (17m)

[5] James Willstrop (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Ben Smith (Eng)   11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (29m)
[4] Adrian Waller (Eng) 3-1 Tom Walsh (Eng)   11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7 (49m)

[4] Julianne Courtice (Eng) 3-1 Torrie Malik (Eng)   12-14, 11-4, 12-10, 11-4 (39m)
[6] Lucy Beecroft (Eng) 3-0 Asia Harris (Eng)   11-1, 11-6, 12-10 (23m)

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Peter Creed (Wal)   11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (33m)
[8] Nick Wall (Eng) 3-0 Sam Todd (Eng)   11-2, 11-4, 11-3 (22m)


Reports & Reaction

No.1 Seed Whitlock Moves Into Last Eight

First up on day two of the National Championships, women’s No.1 seed Emily Whitlock booked her quarter final place after beating Scotland’s Alison Thomson in a comfortable three games match.

The World No.21 possesses great touch both at the front and back of the court and displayed those abilities to bury Thomson deep in the back corners before taking the ball in short with superb accuracy.

Whitlock looked at home on the glass court from the very start of the match and restricted Thomson to just 11 points as the Welsh No.2 won 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 to reach the final eight yet again at the National Championships.

Whitlock was pleased to have won and also reflected on a tough season:

“Even with Ali, not having been playing, she’s a great mover, in the second game I think her confidence in her movement came back but she digs in and she had a great end to last year and she wants to get back to that and I just had to play well.

“I felt miserable this season, I think I’ve been building my way back up towards the top 20 after a couple of years of injuries myself, some lack in confidence and form, I train and play practice matches really well and when it comes to a tournament I don’t feel the pressure to do well but its obviously there as that’s what you’re training for. 

“I had a good run, getting to the last 16 of the US Open, which is the best I’ve done in a Platinum for a while, I’ve had some stinker draws and even then I lost to SJ [Perry] in five games so there was a chance to get to the quarter finals there.

“But this half of the season, I didn’t want to go to the US tournaments that had billeting due to Omicron, I didn’t think it was safe to stay in people’s houses and that decision will have a knock on effect on my ranking. I haven’t felt like my physicality has been there, which is a shame because as I say I think I’ve been training well but it’s something that we all have to deal with.

“I was meant to play the tournament in Mauritius but the guidelines changed, the information wasn’t there on the overview as there was meant to be coaching but then it got changed to SQUASHTV so coaching then wasn’t permitted and that’s not the tournament I entered. I wanted to play a tournament where I could have my coach so my ranking will go down through my own fault and not my own fault which has been mentally difficult to deal with.

“I do want to end this season on a high, I don’t care about the withdrawals, I’m in a good position to perform well this week and I’ve had a good match today and a good run out on the glass court.”

Kimberley Books Quarter final Spot

Over on court 3, No.8 seed Anna Kimberley booked her quarter final spot as she needed just 26 minutes to beat compatriot Katie Cox to progress.

[1] Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt Alison Thomson (SCO) 3-0: 11-4, 11-4, 11-3 (25m)
[8] Anna Kimberley (ENG) bt Katie Cox (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-4, 11-7 (26m)

Makin overcomes Lee 

The first men’s match of the day saw No.2 seed Joel Makin secure his place in the quarter finals, after the beat England’s Charlie Lee 3-0 in 45 minutes.

The Defending Champion didn’t have it all his own way however and had to work hard many times in the match to contain the accurate hitting of Lee.

The Welshman’s pace of hitting was relentless as he consistently moved Lee into all four corners of the court and looked to test the Englishman’s physicality. Lee stood up to the test but wasn’t able to make significant headway in terms of his winners count to push Makin to a fourth game.

Makin won 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 to make his way through to tomorrow’s quarter final where he will play Curtis Malik.

“He’s had a shocker with injuries, since the start of his career really and he’s had about 18 months or so of moving well and being fit. He’s quick on his feet and has a low centre of gravity so can counter punch well but I didn’t want to just close the court down, I wanted to trade with him a little bit and work on my skills so overall pleased with that.

“I’m just pleased to still be fit and the body being healthy, it feels like I’ve been on the end of a two-year season, last year the season went straight through and this year again, I’ve got world tour finals then Commonwealths again so no time off again. But it’s part of the job to try and perform when your body isn’t feeling great.

“It’s a good opportunity and challenge with Mo switching and he looks like he’s got his intensity back and has his head in the right place so if we both get through I’d be looking forward to playing him again.”

Malik In Ruthless Mode To Beat Luck Loser Hill

England’s Curtis Malik was in ruthless form as he defeated Lucky Loser Oscar Hill from the Isle of Man in just 19 minutes to progress to the quarter finals.

[2] Joel Makin (WAL) bt [10] Charlie Lee (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-7 (45m)
[11] Curtis Malik (ENG) bt [Q] Oscar Hill (IOM) 3-0: 11-0, 11-6, 11-0 (19m)

No.3 Seed Hutton Moves through To The Last Eight

No.3 seed Jasmine Hutton has moved into the quarter finals of this year’s National Championships after a solid performance against compatriot Katie Wells.

Hutton was slightly shaky in the opening game and made some uncharacteristic errors which allowed Wells to gain confidence and take the pace to Hutton. Despite this, Hutton was able to use her experience to close the game out 12-10.

From here, Hutton started to dominate proceedings and control the middle of the court. The aggressive hitting from the No.3 seed was simply too much for Wells to handle and Hutton closed the match out in 25 minutes, taking the second and third games 11-5, 11-7.

She’s set up a match with Alicia Mead in tomorrow’s quarter final. Here’s what Hutton had to say following her win:

“Katie is a really good player, she has a great technique and hits a really good ball and I knew it would be tough today so just wanted to get off as quickly as possible.

“It’s really exciting, obviously a shame to not have SJ [Perry], Tesni [Evans] and Gina [Kennedy] in the draw but it’s exciting for us higher seeds in the draw to pick up the title.

“I just wanted to get through this match today but I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow.”

[3] Jasmine Hutton (ENG) bt Katie Wells (ENG) 3-0: 12-10, 11-5, 11-7 (25m)
Alicia Mead (Eng) w/o [5] Millie Tomlinson (Eng)  Millie w/d due to illness

Rooney Survives Withington Test

Qualifier and local player Finnlay Withington showed no fear as he lined up against No.3 seed and regular training partner Patrick Rooney for a place in the quarter finals.

Withington took a close opening game 11-9, moving Rooney into all four corners of the court and was dictating the pace against the World No.21.

The pace continued to be on the youngster’s side and Rooney was struggling to out manoeuvre Withington and find the winners that he usually hits for fun.

Rooney took the third game comfortably 11-2 to lead 2-1. Withington received some treatment on his shins in-between games and came out firing in the fourth game to set up a deciding fifth.

Rooney gained a healthy lead at 6-1 in the final game and pushed on further to secure the win. Rooney didn’t look his usual free-flowing self but managed to do enough to contain the attacking abilities of the European U19 champion and claim a spot in the quarter finals.

“He got in my head a little bit, I couldn’t get the tactics right against him today, I know his game very well and I thought I had the answers but I was doing all the wrong things. He’s got no pressure on and his confidence is high and he started hitting his winners so I needed to figure it out. 

“I’ve been in his position of having no pressure on playing a higher seeded player, and if you’re skilled you can get games of higher-ranked players like he shows today. I’m learning that side of the game now, having to try and fend off players like Finn and be more structured and disciplined but you also have to attack at the right times. But it can be hard.

“It’s been a very good season, I think a year ago I was about 40 in the world. So getting to a high of 30 I’m pleased, I’ve got loads of stuff to work on and I’m looking to get towards the top 10 and further if I can but I’m also trying to keep my feet on the ground.”

Scottish No.1 Lobban Overcomes Qualifier Jenkins

Recent Scotland National Champion Greg Lobban was tested in his first match of this year’s National Championships as he overcame qualifier Miles Jenkins in a difficult four games.

[3] Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt [Q] Finnlay Withington (ENG)  3-2: 9-11, 11-8, 11-2, 5-11, 11-2 (44m)
[6] Greg Lobban (SCO) bt [Q] Miles Jenkins (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 8-11, 11-4, 11-7 (50m)

Turmel Powers Past Roberts

No.2 seed Lucy Turmel wasted no time in moving through to the quarter finals of this year’s National Championships as she defeated Wales’ Lowri Roberts in straight games.

The World No.25 has been in terrific form throughout this season and displayed that from the start of the match, hitting with intent and purpose to the back of the court to set up attacking opportunities, which she finished superbly.

After taking the first game 11-5, Turmel continued to find winners of her own and force errors from her Welsh opponent to pull away on the scoreboard. Roberts was able to fire in a few severe boasts to surprise Turmel but the England No.3 was not to be denied a place in the final eight. She took the second and third games 11-4, 11- to advance.

“I’ve seen her play before as she was a few age groups above me, but everyone is here to win so I gave her my full respect and wanted to get the job done.

“I think we wouldn’t have minded the top girls being in the draw so we could play them and see where we are in comparison to them. But it’s a good opportunity for a few of us now and I just want to see what I can do this week.

“I had my eyes on top 20 for a while and it’s something was looking to do this season so I’m glad I cuts do it and although I’ve dropped a bit I feel that my level is there and hopefully next season I can push up higher.”

[2] Lucy Turmel (ENG) bt Lowri Roberts (WAL) 3-0: 11-5, 11-4, 11-4 (22m)
Alicia Mead (Eng) w.o [5] Millie Tomlinson (Eng)   Millie w/d due to illness

Top Gear For Grace As She Makes The Quarters

Meanwhile, on court three, No.8 seed Grace Gear wasted no time as she defeated Amy Royle in just 17 minutes to set up an interesting encounter with No.2 seed Turmel in tomorrow’s quarter final.

Former Champion Willstrop Into Yet Another Nationals Quarter Final 

Next onto court was the turn of the four-time National Champion James Willstrop, appearing in his 24th successive British National Championships.

‘The Marksman was taking on Ben Smith, who wasn’t even born the first time that Willstrop appeared in the event. 

Smith looked slightly nervous in the opening game of the encounter and found the tin a lot more than he would have liked. These errors, partnered with Willstrop errors made for a quick game, with the No.5 seed taking it 11-5.

Smith seemed to settle in the second game and started to move the tall frame of Willstrop into the corners of the court and expose the movement of the former World No.1. The attacking flair of Smith was causing Willstrop trouble but the anticipation of the Yorkshireman was nullifying several of Smith’s attacks. 

Willstrop took the second and third games both 11-8 to book his place in the quarter finals and was full of praise for Smith after the match:

“It’s interesting to play someone that tall, it doesn’t happen to me very often. He’s a good prospect, based in Yorkshire and I like the way he plays. 

“I’ll keep playing, I’ll try not to get injured more importantly. But I still enjoy playing. The lockdown helped my ranking stay where it is and give myself a chance of being selected for the commonwealth games and thankfully I did so very much looking forward to a home games.”

Waller Beats Training Partner Walsh To Progress

Over on court three, No.4 seed Adrian Waller overcame training partner Tom Walsh in a tough four-game battle to set up a mouth-watering clash with former Champion James Willstrop.

[5] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [Q] Ben Smith (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-8, 11-8 (29m)
[4] Adrian Waller (ENG) bt Tom Walsh (ENG) 3-1: 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7 (49m)

Courtice Battles Past Malik

No.4 seed Julianne Courtice booked her place in the quarter finals for the third time at the National Championships after beating fiery compatriot Torrie Malik in four games.

18-year-old Malik showed no signs of nerves in the opening game against Courtice in the round one match up. Malik started hitting aggressively to both the front and back of the court and gave Courtice no time to settle on the T and Malik took the opening game 14-12.

Courtice showed her class and experience from this moment however and  started to display her excellent ball control to consistently move her younger opponent and dominate the rallies.

After turning the score around to lead 2-1, Courtice fired off several winners to the front of the court and made use of a slightly softer ball which dragged Malik even further up to the front of the court. Courtice won 11-4 in game four to move into another Nationals quarter final.

Courtice had this to say after the match

“She played her game better than I played mine there. She was in position and she was making the most of it so well played and it’s harder than it looks. I wouldn’t say I felt the most comfortable on there but you’ve got to dig in and keep putting the ball in the right place and eventually I did it enough so her winners happened a little bit less.

“I think I’ve learnt the most about myself in this season more so than any other season and it’s a battle. Not being able to play the way you want to and backing up performances is hard.

“Id like to have a good finish to a tough season.”

Beecroft Shows Her Class Against Harris

England’s Lucy Beecroft was in top form as she moved past compatriot Asia Harris in straight games to move into tomorrow’s quarter finals.

[4] Julianne Courtice (ENG) bt Torrie Malik (ENG) 3-1: 12-14, 11-4, 12-10, 11-4 (39m)
[5] Lucy Beecroft (ENG) bt Asia Harris (ENG) 3-0: 11-1, 11-6, 12-10 (23m)

Top Seed Mohamed ElShorbagy Beats Creed In First British Nationals Outing

In the final match of the day new England No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy got off to a winning start in his first British National Championships after beating good friend Peter Creed in straight games.

The World No.3 looked at home from the opening exchanges on the glass court at the National Squash Centre, the same court on which he captured the 2020 Manchester Open title. He attacked the front corners and moved Creed constantly, not giving the Welshman any time to settle.

After taking the opening game 11-7, ‘The Beast ‘ continued to push on. He dragged the Welsh No.3 into all four corners of the court at different paces to nullify Creed’s attacking options. 

Despite a positive showing from Creed, the Welshman wasn’t able to put serious work into the legs of ElShorbagy and lost the next two games 11-8. The World No.3 now moves into the quarter finals to play No.8 seed Nick Wall.

“Peter  was one of the first people that I knew from the first day I came to England from Millfield School, we’ve seen each other progress all the way so it’s quite fitting that I played one of my Bristol training partners in my first match.

“It’s such a prestigious title to win and tournament to play. I’ve watched all the big finals throughout the years, all of the battles between Nick [Matthew] and James [Willstrop] and I’ve seen how much it meant to them. It would be an honour to put my name on the trophy alongside the great names that are already on there.

“I was struggling mentally throughout the season, it’s very important that when you’re on top to know where your weaknesses are and when you’re not playing well, to be honest with yourself and tell yourself that you need changes. I phoned him up [Gregory Gaultier] and said that I need some help and just a couple of things he said to me have made a difference and I’m very grateful for him.

“World Tour Finals is the last event of the season and all the players will be trying to finish on a high. I feel good with my form right now, I’m focusing on this week and trying to put all my focus here. It means a lot to have David [Campion] and James [Willstrop] here watching my first match, it really means a lot to me.”

Wall Wins All-Yorkshire Battle

In the all-Yorkshire battle No.8 seed and Sheffield’s Nick Wall overcame Pontefract’s Sam Todd in an impressive three games to progress to the quarter finals to face No.1 seed and England No.1 Mohamed ElShorbagy.

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [Q] Peter Creed (WAL) 3-0: 11-7, 11-8, 11-8 (33m)
[8] Nick Wall (ENG) bt [9] Sam Todd (ENG) 3-0: 11-2, 11-4, 11-3 (22m)