1:45 am
21 Nov 2018

GB Double At World University Championships In Birmingham

11 Sep 2018

It was a national double for only the second time in the event's history when Great Britain claimed both singles titles, against expectations, in the FISU World University Squash Championships in the English city of Birmingham.

Victories for Joshua Masters and Lily Taylor in the men's and women's events, respectively, at the University of Birmingham were not only a first for the hosts, but also for the University of the West of England in Bristol where they both study.

Masters, the No.2 seed from Kent, recovered from a game down in the men's final to overcome top seed Yip Tsz Fung, the defending champion from Hong Kong, 8-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-5, while third seed Taylor - who ousted second-seeded Malaysian Aika Azman in the semis - defeated surprise South African opponent Alexa Pienaar, the No.8 seed, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 in the other final.

Masters, the 23-year-old world No.53 (pictured above, second from left, with fellow medallists), described his success as "probably the best moment of my career so far."

The third year Maths student added: "I've really enjoyed playing on this (all-glass) court all week as it suits my game, and I'm really, really happy with the result.

"I had a bit of a sloppy start losing the first three points, but my coach was telling me to keep playing it straight, and volley short and straight, so that's what I was trying to do."

Yip, ranked 28 places higher, was generous in defeat: "I think Josh played very well today, he deserves it! I'm going to try and recover for tomorrow, and I hope for the win in the team event."

Fellow UWE student Taylor, who reads Business with Accounting & Finance, had become the sole British hope in the women's event after the quarter-final stage, which had seen her top-seeded compatriot Grace Gear knocked out in straight games by eighth seed Pienaar.

The 24-year-old Johannesburg University student subsequently reached the final after seeing off another higher-ranked opponent, Zoe Foo Yuk Han, seeded six. But there was to be no hat-trick of such upsets, as third seed Taylor - three years Pienaar's junior - started strongly in each of their three games, and proceeded for the most part to stay in front before clinching gold.

"I'm absolutely thrilled," enthused Lily (pictured above on the winner's podium), from Leicester, afterwards. "I can't believe it really as I was just focusing on the match, it's pretty special.

"Alexa is very strong, and has beaten a lot of good players - so I knew I had to give it my all. I just wanted to stay in the rallies as long as possible."

Pienaar said: "I'm a bit sad, I came close but I'm still happy with silver - and I was very happy to make it into the final. I'll now rest and chill with my team in preparation for the team event."

It was 10 years ago in August 2008 in the Egyptian capital Cairo that hosts Egypt became the first nation to claim both singles titles - won by Raneem El Welily and Ramy Ashour, both of whom went on to become world number ones!

Men's quarter-finals:
[1] Yip Tsz Fung (HKG) bt [13] Jakub Solnicky (CZE) 11-5, 11-3, 12-10 (19m)
[4] Addeen Idrakie (MAS) bt [6] Sanjay Singh Chal (MAS) 11-9, 14-12, 4-11, 11-5 (50m)
[3] Mohd Syafiq Kamal (MAS) bt [7] Henry Leung (HKG) 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7 (48m)
[2] Joshua Masters (GBR) bt [5] Wong Chi Him (HKG) 11-3, 11-4, 11-3 (23m)
Semi-finals:
[1] Yip Tsz Fung (HKG) bt [4] Addeen Idrakie (MAS) 11-4, 11-6, 11-9 (32m)
[2] Joshua Masters (GBR) bt [3] Mohd Syafiq Kamal (MAS) 11-3, 11-7, 13-11 (37m)
Final:
[2] Joshua Masters (GBR) bt [1] Yip Tsz Fung (HKG) 8-11, 11-8, 11-2, 11-5 (44m)

Women's quarter-finals:
[8] Alexa Pienaar (RSA) bt [1] Grace Gear (GBR) 11-6, 12-10, 13-11 (36m)
[6] Zoe Foo Yuk Han (MAS) bt [4] Shehana Vithana (AUS) 11-7, 11-7, 11-4 (20m)
[3] Lily Taylor (GBR) bt Hayley Ward (RSA) 11-6, 15-13, 11-6 (24m)
[2] Aika Azman (MAS) bt [5] Ho Ka Wing (HKG) 12-10, 11-8, 11-3 (21m)
Semi-finals:
[8] Alexa Pienaar (RSA) bt [6] Zoe Foo Yuk Han (MAS) 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-6 (23m)
[3] Lily Taylor (GBR) bt [2] Aika Azman (MAS) 11-1, 7-11, 11-2, 7-11, 11-8 (40m)
Final:
[3] Lily Taylor (GBR) bt [8] Alexa Pienaar (RSA) 11-7, 11-8, 11-6 (26m)