The 2023 British Nationals got under way today at St George’s Hill with the Qualifying competition – four places in each draw up for grabs.
Qualifying Finals : Perry wins all-Malik clash
The final round of qualifying saw Perry Malik defeat younger brother Heston to claim a spot in the main draw. Despite Heston taking a tight first game Perry worked his way back to win the next three games, setting up a clash with second seed and 2021 champion Joel Makin.
“I feel really happy making it through to the main draw, but obviously playing your brother is never an easy match-up,” said Perry. “It was hard to get myself up for it and fight for it, because we train every day together, we support each other, and we just want each other to win, so it was quite a tough match mentally.”
First and third seeds Emyr Evans and local favourite Miles Jenkins both won in four games to take their places in the main draw. Jordan Warne was the only unseeded qualifier, beating Matt Gregory to reach the main draw for the first time.
In the women’s draw Wales’s Lowri Roberts set up a meeting with top seed Gina Kennedy as as she upset fourth seed Kiera Marshall in four games.
Top three seeds Saran Nghiem, Alison Thomson and Asia Harris all secured their main draw spots.
Men’s QR1 : Malik Brothers set up main draw play-off
The opening round of qualifying saw brothers Perry and Heston Malik advance to the final round of qualifying where they will face off for a place in the main draw.
Perry, appearing at the British Nationals for the second time, achieved a comfortable win over fellow Englishman Jared Carter and will now look to go one better than last year’s qualifying finals loss.
“I played Jared a lot in juniors and I only ended up beating him once in my whole junior career, so to get the 3-0 win was really good,” said Perry. “Heston was playing at the same time as me and he did very well. My dad was kind of switching between the two, so he was coaching me and watching Heston and coaching him in between games as well.
“It will be a very friendly match. We train together all the time, we are very close, so I’m looking forward to it.”
17-year-old Heston, five years Perry’s junior, got the better of Northern Irishman Stephen Hearst in in his first Nationals appearance.
The other Malik sibling in action today, Bailey, fell to top seeded Welshman Emyr Evans in straight games. Meanwhile Matt Gregory scored an upset win over Nathan Mead, winning a gripping five-game contest in 55 minutes.
Gregory, also appearing at his maiden Nationals will now aim to secure his place in the main draw when he plays compatriot Jordan Warne, whose match with Archie Turnbull was cut short due to the Welshman sustaining an ankle injury.
“It was all mental toughness at the end,” said Gregory. “Of course, it is always going to hurt physically against guys like that. He’s a fit lad, the perfect build for squash – so I just had to be as mentally strong as I could and just battle through.
The final match of the afternoon pitted St George’s coaches Miles Jenkins against Ruudi Clarke, with a packed house was in attendance to watch Jenkins secure a 3-0 win.
“The crowd was big,” said Jenkins. I think it’s the biggest I’ve seen it for qualifying, so I think it shows they’re very supportive of both myself and Ruudi. It was a nice homely atmosphere, the crowd were great, so I really enjoyed it.”
He will play Jack Mitterer in the final match of the day, after Mitterer despatched Yuk Hei Lee in straight games.
Paul Broadberry was the other victor, beating 15-year-old Indie Flint in straight games, despite a close first game which saw him take the lead in extra points.