11:28 am
21 Apr 2024

Willstrop Delights In War of the Roses Win In Manchester

12 Feb 2008

Defending champion James Willstrop described it as 'the perfect day for a Yorkshireman' after beating local hero Nick Taylor in tonight's first round of the British National Championships in Manchester.

Just 48 hours after winning the Swedish Open trophy on the international Tour, Willstrop was back at the scene of his maiden triumph last year at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity. Competing against his former Premier League club team-mate, Willstrop romped to an 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 victory in 32 minutes.

"That couldn't be any better for a Yorkshireman - a perfect evening, playing squash against a Lancastrian with about 50 Lancastrians cheering him on," said the top seed from Pontefract, also a firm favourite with the local crowd.

"But I loved it - and it was a really enjoyable game, as it always is with Nick. He was really relaxed and ran his heart out."

Taylor, the 36-year-old from Stalybridge who is the reigning British National and British Open Over-35 champion, also thoroughly enjoyed the workout.

"When I first saw the draw, I was really pleased that I was playing James - as we always have a great game," said the event's one-time runner-up, now head coach at the Sportcity centre.

"But it's amazing how quickly you forget the pace of the modern game - it's a million miles an hour! The mind's there, but the body isn't anymore.

"But this is the best crowd in the world - and that's great for squash," added Taylor.

Five weeks after undergoing revolutionary hernia surgery, former champion Lee Beachill was back in winning form today when he beat Derbyshire qualifier Joel Hinds in straight games

"I'm actually playing well and hitting the ball really well - but my movement is not there yet, so I don't really have any great expectations," said the 30-year-old from Pontefract after his confident 11-3, 11-3, 11-7 victory in 35 minutes.

Beachill, who boasts three title victories from six successive appearances in the men's final, has set up an all-Yorkshire second round clash with Simon Parke, the tenth seed who beat Scottish qualifier Stuart Crawford 11-2, 11-1, 9-11, 11-4.

Parke, the 1998 champion, beat former world number one Beachill the last time they met in the event - in the 1999 semi-finals. Should Parke win again, it would take the 35-year-old into his 50th championship match since making his debut in the event more than 20 years ago.

A shock looked on the cards when Stephen Meads, a 37-year-old from Wokingham in Berkshire celebrating his 20th appearance in the event, fought back from 1/2 down to level his match against Daryl Selby - and then went 4-0 up against the ninth seed from Essex.

But the Nationals' veteran was unable to force through his advantage as 25-year-old Selby rallied back to win 10-11 (0-2), 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7 in 93 minutes.

"I knew what to expect with Steve - he's probably been practicing for the last three months for this actual match!" said Selby, the England No9 afterwards. "I've got a lot of respect for him - we used to play together in a team, and he's really good to be around.

"If any young professional wants to learn how to give 100%, then he needs to look no further than Meadsy. But I was happy with the way I played - I played well all the way through - it's just that Meadsy got everything back! I'm not at all annoyed with myself."

The first upset took place later in the day when Surrey's Tom Richards secured his first ever win over 14th seed Tim Vail, the England No15 from Sussex who reached the quarter-finals 12 months ago. Richards is fighting back to full strength after knee surgery last year which kept him out of action for eight months.

"I'm surprised at how quickly I've been able to get back into it - I suppose I feel fit enough, but perhaps not quite sharp enough," explained the 21-year-old England No24 from Walton-on-Thames. "I've always been wary of Tim, so it's good to get my first win over him.

"I reckon I'm about 85% back to my former level now. I was 53 in the world before I ruptured my cruciate ligament - I'm now 121, so I've got a lot of catching up to do!"

Vail blamed his heavy recent workload on his poor performance: "I turned 30 and got married in December - and I've only had one day off in the last month," explained the England No15 from Lee-on-Solent. "When I got on court I found that my legs were like jelly!"

The day's qualifying finals for the women's championship produce twin successes for both Yorkshire and Warwickshire - with Lauren Siddall and Kirsty McPhee, from Pontefract and Normanton, respectively, joining Vicky Hynes and Emma Beddoes, from Warwick and Birmingham, respectively, in the main draw.

RESULTS: British National Squash Championships, National Squash Centre, Manchester

Men's 1st round:
[1] James Willstrop (Yorks) bt Nick Taylor (Lancs) 11-5, 11-7, 11-6 (32m)
[16] Ben Ford (Kent) bt Peter Billson (Lancs) 10-11 (0-2), 7-11, 11-0, 11-5, 11-8 (51m)
[6] Jonathan Kemp (Shropshire) bt Chris Simpson (Hants) 11-5, 11-9, 11-6 (32m)
Tom Richards (Surrey) bt [14] Tim Vail (Sussex) 11-10 (4-2), 11-7, 11-5 (33m)
[3] Peter Barker (Essex) bt [Q] Jethro Binns (Wales) 11-6, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9 (44m)
[15] Alex Stait (Glos) bt [Q] Lewys Hurst (Wales) 11-7, 11-5, 11-10 (2-0) (32m)
[8] Alister Walker (Glos) bt Hadrian Stiff (Devon) 11-10 (2-0), 11-4, 11-5 (47m)
[13] Andrew Whipp (Cheshire) bt [Q] Adrian Waller (Herts) 11-7, 2-11, 11-4, 11-6 (33m)
[9] Daryl Selby (Essex) bt Stephen Meads (Berks) 10-11 (0-2), 11-4, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7 (93m)
[7] Joey Barrington (Somerset) bt [Q] David Barnett (Northumbria) 11-4, 11-2, 11-4 (32m)
Jonathan Harford (Glos) bt Chris Tasker-Grindley (Glos) 11-7, 11-5, 11-6 (30m)
[4] Adrian Grant (Kent) bt [Q] Eddie Charlton (Notts) 11-1, 11-9, 11-8 (35m)
[11] Chris Ryder (Herts) bt [Q] Jaymie Haycocks (Shropshire) 11-10 (2-0), 11-6, 11-9 (36m)
[5] Alex Gough (Wales) bt John Rooney (Ireland) 11-10 (4-2), 11-9, 11-10 (2-0) (67m)
[10] Simon Parke (Yorks) bt [Q] Stuart Crawford (Scotland) 11-2, 11-1, 9-11, 11-4 (42m)
[2] Lee Beachill (Yorks) bt [Q] Joel Hinds (Derbyshire) 11-3, 11-3, 11-7 (35m)

Women's Qualifying finals:
Lauren Siddall (Yorks) bt Victoria Lust (Beds) 11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 11-5, 11-1 (43m)
Kirsty McPhee (Yorks) bt Fiona Moverley (Yorks) 14-12, 11-5, 11-2 (23m)
Vicky Hynes (Warwicks) bt Deon Saffery (Yorks) 12-10, 11-6, 12-14, 11-8 (37m)
Emma Beddoes (Warwicks) bt Sarah-Jane Perry (Warwicks) 11-4, 11-2, 11-8 (26m)