With the British National Championships taking place this week at Manchester’s National Squash Centre, who will be the main contenders for the titles come Friday evening?
There are three previous winners of the event in the field, including the two reigning champions in Sarah-Jane Perry and James Willstrop. Welshwoman Tesni Evans is the other victor of the Nationals playing this week, and the three will be challenging once again.
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Here are the main contenders for this year’s British Nationals crowns.
Four-time champion James Willstrop will be aiming to defend his British National Championship crown this week, having won the title in 2007, 2008, 2019 and 2020.
Those four victories at the tournament have come against four different opponents, in John White, Lee Beachill, Daryl Selby and Joel Makin, who he beat in the final last year.
The Englishman has not been in the best of form this season, but as an 11-time finalist of the tournament, he is not one to be forgotten about this week in Manchester
Welsh No.1 Joel Makin will be the top seed for the British National Championships this week, and he will arguably be the favourite for the winner’s trophy on current form.
Last year, Makin made it to the final of the tournament, before losing out in the final 3-1 to James Willstrop, but that is his best result at the event.
The Welshman is in good form, having made the quarters or better of four events this season. Those results included making the last four of the CIB PSA Black Ball Squash Open earlier this year, his best finish at a major tournament.
Former English No.1 Adrian Waller will be the No.3 seed for the men’s event, and he will be hoping to recapture the form that saw him win to Challenger 30 level tournaments in 2019.
Since then, the Englishman, who has been as high as World No.17, has not been on a great run over the last 18 months, but his best result came at the National Squash Centre.
Waller made it to the second round of the Manchester Open in 2020, and he will hope that that is a good omen for the week ahead.
Greg Lobban, the Scottish No.1, will be his nation’s leading hope of glory this week in Manchester, and he will be the No.4 seed for the men’s tournament.
The Scot has been unlucky with first round draws over the course of the last year, coming up against Fares Dessouky, Mohamed ElShorbagy and Gregory Gaultier to name a few.
Lobban will be aiming to become the first Scot to reach the final of the British Nationals since John White did so in 2007.
The top seed for the women’s tournament will be English No.1 Sarah-Jane Perry, with the World No.6 aiming to claim her third Nationals title.
The Englishwoman first won the crown in 2015 with a massive five-game battle against Laura Massaro. Perry is also the reigning champion, having won the title in 2020, beating Jasmine Hutton in the final.
The World No.6 already has a major title to her name this season, having claimed victory at the CIB Black Ball Squash Open in December. Since then, she has reached the quarters of three more major tournaments.
Two-time British National Champion Tesni Evans will be aiming to secure her third crown at the event, following her victories in both 2018 and 2019.
Evans, who became the first Welshwoman to win the British Nationals with her victory over Alison Waters three years ago, and has seen an improvement in her recent form.
Following her return to the sport after an injury she suffered at the J.P. Morgan Tournament of Champions in 2020, the World No.11 has reached the quarter-finals in Manchester and at the Black Ball Open.
The second Welshwoman in the top three seeds of the women’s event is World No.24 Emily Whitlock, who will be the No.3 seed for this week’s event.
Whitlock lost out to fellow Welshwoman Tesni Evans in the final of the British Nationals in 2019, and will be aiming to get back to the final once again this year.
Whitlock has not been in the best of form so far this season, having made it no further than the second round of any major tournament, but she has recorded quarters and semis appearances on the Challenger Tour.
She might be World No.74, but Georgina Kennedy is certainly one of the contenders for the title this week after her recent form.
Kennedy, who spent four years at Harvard University alongside the likes of Victor Crouin, has been flying up the rankings recently after five wins on the Challenger Tour over the course of the summer.
She also has top 20 scalps under her belt, with wins over Joshna Chinappa and Sabrina Sobhy in the last month. She could certainly be an outside shot for victory come Friday.