Top Seeds ElShorbagy & Kennedy Open Up with Wins

The evening session of the 2023 British National Squash Championships saw No.1 seeds Mohamed ElShorbagy and Georgina Kennedy claim wins in their opening fixtures at the St George’s Hill Lawn Tennis Club in Weybridge.

ElShorbagy’s quest to defend his British Nationals crown got under way in entertaining fashion as he saw off No.12 seed Finnlay Withington 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 in 26 minutes.

The Englishman didn’t have it all his own way despite the scoreline, with both players trading blows in an action-packed clash.

After the match, ElShorbagy said: “I’m very happy. He’s a great player and I think he is one of the future players of this country.

“I did not take this match lightly at all, I really studied him a lot before the match, he’s very unorthodox and very, very talented.

“I definitely want to win the title. I think if there is a player in the draw who is playing this event and not thinking about winning the title, they shouldn’t be here. We are all here because we want to win this title.

“We are out here fighting hard, aggressively, but with respect, and that’s what we did today, and that’s what I’ll do in the next round.”

Mohamed ElShorbagy (front) and Finnlay Withington in action
Mohamed ElShorbagy (front) and Finnlay Withington in action

ElShorbagy faces Emyr Evans for a spot in the semi-final after the Welshman saw off No.8 seed Curtis Malik in impressive fashion, battling his way to a 12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9 in 58 minutes.

Elsewhere, 2022 semi-finalist Patrick Rooney produced a confident and composed performance to claim victory against No.11 seed James Peach.

No.3 seed Rooney, who came through his encounter 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 in 26 minutes, will face Charlie Lee for a spot in the last four following the Englishman’s straight-games victory against Jordan Warne.

“I’m as pleased as I could be,” Rooney said. “It was the first match after a long period of not playing, which we are not used to, post-COVID we basically played tournaments for two years straight.

“The summer training seems to have kept me sharp and I was hoping to get off in three today, so I’m really happy with that.”

Patrick Rooney (front) in action against James Peach
Patrick Rooney (front) in action against James Peach

In the women’s side of the draw, No.1 seed Georgina Kennedy opened her account in style, claiming a comfortable victory over Lowri Roberts in 22 minutes.

Kennedy, who was runner-up to Sarah-Jane Perry in the 2021 British Nationals, enjoyed the fast-paced nature of the glass court, advancing 11-2, 11-7, 11-0.

“It’s nerve-racking having not played a competitive match since the Tour Finals,” said Kennedy. “It’s tough to get practice matches with the girls being so spread out around the country, so you sometimes feel like you are flying blind when you don’t really know what your level is and it was really tough.

“In the third I had to be so focused and make sure my accuracy increased a lot because she is such a talented player, so I was happy that I was able to make it through.

“It’s weird to be the number one seed, it’s weird territory for me. The competition is class because obviously you have SJ [Perry] and Tesni [Evans] as the two and three seeds and the depth of the British game is really strong.”

No.8 seed Georgia Adderley will be Kennedy’s opponent in the quarter-finals after defeating Grace Gear 11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5 in 44 minutes.

Meanwhile, defending champion Jasmine Hutton started her title defence in strong fashion, overcoming Millie Tomlinson in three games.

After claiming the first two games without cause for concern, the No.5 seed was pushed all the way in the third, eventually progressing 11-8, 11-2, 11-8 in 32 minutes.

Jasmine Hutton on her way to victory over Millie Tomlinson
Jasmine Hutton on her way to victory over Millie Tomlinson

After the match, Hutton said: “It was a good match. I was really happy with how I played in the first two.

“I got into a bit of a hard-hitting fest at the end of the third, it got a bit frantic and maybe I tried to force it a little bit too early, but nevertheless, I was really happy to be through in three today.

“I’m just coming in and enjoying myself and trying to cause some upsets. I don’t feel too pressured because I’m the No.5 seed, so there are still a lot of people above me who I’m trying to hunt, so I’m just trying to enjoy the ride.”

Hutton has been rewarded with a quarter-final tie against No.4 seed Emily Whitlock after she started her campaign with a 3-1 win against World No.97 Asia Harris.

After the game, Whitlock said: “Asia can hit a nice ball and that court is ruthless, but I didn’t panic, I got on with it and managed to close it out in the fourth.

“I felt like I pushed it to the back a bit more than I should have done, so I’m glad I cut that out at the end and I hit some winners in the end.”

The quarter-finals get under way at 13:00 (GMT+1) tomorrow. Action from the glass court will be shown live on SQUASHTV.

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Results – Men’s First Round Evening Session: 2023 British National Squash Championships

[1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) bt [12] Finnlay Withington (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 (26m)

Emyr Evans (WAL) bt [8] Curtis Malik (ENG) 3:1: 12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9

[7] Charlie Lee (ENG) bt Jordan Warne (ENG) 3-0: 11-1, 11-2, 11-4 (28)

[3] Patrick Rooney (ENG) bt [11] James Peach (ENG) 3-0: 11-5, 11-6, 11-4 (26m)

Results – Women’s First Round Evening Session: 2023 British National Squash Championships

[1] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt Lowri Roberts (WAL) 3-0: 11-2, 11-7, 11-0 (22m)

[8] Georgia Adderley (SCO) bt Grace Gear (ENG) 3-1: 11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 11,5 (43m)

[5] Jasmine Hutton (ENG) bt Millie Tomlinson (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-2, 11-8 (32m)

[4] Emily Whitlock (WAL) bt Asia Harris (ENG) 3-1: 11-2, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9 (43m)

Schedule – Quarter-finals: To Be Played August 17th

(All times are local GMT+1)

13:00 [3] Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) v [7] Katie Malliff (ENG)

14:00 [4] Adrian Waller (ENG) v [5] Nick Wall (ENG)

15:00 [6] Lucy Turmel (ENG) v [2] Tesni Evans (WAL)

16:00 [10] Joe Lee (ENG) v [2] Joel Makin (WAL)

18:00 [1] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) v [8] Georgia Adderley (SCO)

19:00 [1] Mohamed ElShorbagy (ENG) v Emyr Evans (WAL)

20:00 [5] Jasmine Hutton (ENG) v [4] Emily Whitlock (WAL)

21:00 [7] Charlie Lee (ENG) v [3] Patrick Rooney (ENG)