As the 2023 British National Championships are just one week away, we’re taking a look back at the 2022 event, which saw Jasmine Hutton and Mohamed ElShorbagy claim their first National titles at the National Squash Centre in Manchester.
After qualifying had finished to complete the main draw, It was a convincing day for the seeded players in round one as they all progressed through to the quarter finals. The most exciting fixture in the men’s matches came from Finnlay Withington and Patrick Rooney as the pair played out an entertaining five-game match with Rooney managing to regroup in the fifth game to win 11-2 and avoid an upset.
All seeds progressed 3-0 In the women’s event apart from Julianne Courtice, who dropped the first game to Torrie Malik, before steadying the ship to win the next three games and reach the final eight. No.5 seed Millie Tomlinson was forced to withdraw from her match before it had started giving Alicia Mead a bye.
The quarter finals saw one upset each in both the men’s and women’s draws as two northern players booked places in the final four.
Former World No.1 James Willstrop was competing in his 24th National Championships (including qualifying draws) and took on Adrian Waller for a semi-final spot. The Yorkshireman rolled back the years as he executed his trademark accuracy to move Waller into all corners of the court and squeeze the No.4 seed into making errors. Willstrop took the match in straight games to set up a semi-final clash with newly converted Englishman Mohamed ElShorbagy, who didn’t have things all his own way but defeated Nick Wall 3-1 to advance.
The other two men’s quarter finals were won by Merseyside’s Patrick Rooney and defending champion Joel Makin. Rooney lost the opening game against Scotland’s Greg Lobban but looked comfortable in subsequent games to win in four. Makin again produced a professional performance to see off Curtis Malik in straight games despite a positive showing from the Sussex man.
In the women’s draw, the only upset came from Northumbria’s Lucy Beecroft, who defeated No.4 seed Julianne Courtice in straight games to reach a first nationals semi-final. Both players possess great touch at the front of the court, so it all came down to who could create the most chances, and it was Beecroft who stepped up to take control of the match and win 3-0.
She would join top three seeds Emily Whitlock, Lucy Turmel and Jasmine Hutton in the final four as they all recorded straight games victories in their respective matches.
On an action packed semi-finals day in Manchester, a battle between two former World No.1s took centre stage in the men’s draw, whilst two girls bidding to make a first nationals final headlined the women’s draw.
Four-time champion James Willstrop and 2017 World Champion Mohamed Elshorbagy put on a show for the National Squash Centre crowd in their semi-final clash. Skill and accuracy on show from Willstrop against the power and pace of ElShorbagy made for an entertaining match-up. ElShorbagy took a 2-0 lead and looked sure to be advancing in three, but the Yorkshireman battled back in emphatic style to win game three 11-1. Both players traded blows in the fourth game and both held game and match balls in an exciting tie-brea,k but it was ElShorbagy who converted 14-12 to reach the final.
ElShorbagy would be facing defending champion Joel Makin in the final after the Welshman overcame a strong challenge from Patrick Rooney in his semi-final, closing the match out in three games in 50 minutes.
The longest match of the day came in the women’s draw as Lucy Turmel faced Lucy Beecroft for a spot in the final. Turmel got off to the perfect start as she lead 2-0 in the contest, but Beecroft battled back to claim a very tight third game 13-11 and then motored through to compete the comeback and book her place in the final, winning both the fourth and fifth games 11-7.
Beecroft’s opponent in the final would be No.3 seed Jasmine Hutton after top seed Emily Whitlock was forced to retire in their match after sustaining an injury.
Mohamed ElShorbagy and Joel Makin had met 10 times on the PSA World Tour before meeting in the final, with ElShorbagy leading 7-3 in the head-to-head standings, but Makin had claimed the last victory in the same venue at the Manchester Open just two months earlier.
ElShorbagy was determined to overturn that result as he matched Makin’s pace and physicality in the opening game and dictated the play, moving the Welshman into all four corners to take a 1-0 lead, winning 12-10.
More of the same followed from ElShorbagy in game two. The 2017 World Champion had Makin performing multiple tough movements back-to-back, but the Manchester Open champion was up for the task. Makin did his best to stick in the rallies and sneak points from the top seed, but ElShorbagy always managed to find the clinical winner. ElShorbagy took both the second and third games 12-10 to lift his first British Nationals title.
In the women’s final, it was a surprise fixture as No.3 seed Jasmine Hutton took on No.6 seed Lucy Beecroft for the title. Hutton looked fresh and sharp in the opening exchanges and steamrolled game one, winning 11-3. Northumbria’s Beecroft looked to have settle the nerves in game two as she started to find the winners that had served her so well throughout the event so far. Beecroft lead 9-6 and looked sure to be equalising, but Hutton had other ideas. The higher seed stepped up the court and rattled off several winners to win the next five points and steal the game to lead 2-0.
The third game was just as competitive as the previous one, and there was nothing to split the two until Hutton pulled ahead to a 10-7 lead, setting herself up with three championship balls. Despite Beecroft saving one, it wasn’t enough to deny Hutton the win and a first National title.