10:02 am
23 Jun 2024

Kemp Captures Willstrop Scalp In Major Nationals Upset

12 Feb 2011

Yorkshire's two-time champion James Willstrop, who was expected to reach the final of the British National Squash Championships for the fifth time in seven years, crashed out in tonight's quarter-finals at the National Squash Centre in Manchester after losing to Shropshire's Jonathan Kemp.

The world No4 from Leeds walked onto the court with ten career wins out ten against Kemp, the Halifax-based left-hander who is ranked 23 in the world.

But signs of an upset were on the cards when Kemp took the opening game - itself a first in the pair's career head-to-head tally.

The Shropshire lad took the second and had match-ball for a stunning straight games win when Willstrop benefitted from a lucky sidewall nick to reduce the deficit.

But Kemp continued with his game-plan and, after 48 minutes, wrapped up his historic 11-8, 11-3, 10-12, 11-6 victory.

"It's the best result of my career so far," said an exuberant Kemp afterwards. "When he hit that nick at match-ball in the third, I thought 'was that my chance gone?'. But I was determined to stick to my game-plan - and it worked.

"But James is a fantastic player - and a fantastic guy too," added the Wolverhampton-born 29-year-old.

"I feel I played well - but physically he seemed down. But James at 50% would still beat most people!"

After signing autographs for a hoard of young fans afterwards, Willstrop admitted that all was not right: "I've had enough - I'm just not enjoying playing at the moment.

"There's no point in carrying on like this - maybe I need to stop playing for a while.

"It's unnatural for me not to like playing. The only reason I'm putting the effort in is not to win - but to do justice to all the people who have come to watch me play.

"I just feel exhausted," continued the 27-year-old England No2 from Leeds. "Every time I'm on court, it's like a toil. I'm just glad I'm not playing tomorrow.

"I played a lot of squash in the autumn - maybe I should have done something to reduce the load. I don't feel I can keep playing at this level.

"I had no desire tonight. In fact the only desire I had was to get off the court - and not play in the semi-finals.

"But I don't want to take anything away from Jonathan. I always have to be focussed to play him - and he played well tonight," Willstrop concluded.

In his first semi-final appearance since making his Nationals debut 11 years ago, Kemp will meet third seed Daryl Selby. The 28-year-old from Essex claimed his second successive semi-final slot when he beat Chris Ryder.

The No7 seed from Hertfordshire imposed himself on the match from the outset and had two game-balls in the third - but Selby came through to win 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4 in 71 minutes.

"It was a tough match - he found his length pretty well - I couldn't get in front of him for the first three games," said Selby, the world No10.

"I felt strong in the fourth - and I think he would have been pretty disappointed to lose the third."

Ryder explained later: "I was just a little off the pace in the fourth - and he raised his game."

When asked if he had been happy overall with his game, the Leamington Spa-based 30-year-old responded: "No - I'm not happy to lose. In fact I'm fed up with saying that I'm 'happy my performance' when I lose."

Sarah Kippax's hopes of taking Cheshire interest through to the women's semi-finals were dashed when the fourth seed crashed out to lower-ranked Dominique Lloyd-Walter, the No7 seed from Guildford.

Kippax, the Chester-born world No22 squandered a game ball in the first game and led in the next two - but it was Lloyd-Walter, ranked 23 places lower, who prevailed to win 14-12, 11-7, 11-7 in 40 minutes.

Lloyd-Walter, a former world No18, is making a comeback after a six-month foot injury lay-off. "I was in agony after a bone in my right foot virtually decomposed, and even now it's only about 90% back," said the 29-year-old, now in the semis for the first time.

"I'm very happy with that - but most of all, I'm really pleased to be back playing again.

"I've qualified as a personal trainer now, and I really enjoy that, so squash is not the only thing in my life anymore," added Lloyd-Walter. "I'll still play on the Tour, but I'll just be much more relaxed."

Kippax was downcast: "I'm really disappointed - nothing seemed to come together for me tonight. I felt that my game was a little bit off.

"But all credit to Dom, she played really well. I desperately wanted to play well here - I had lots of support. But she just played better than me and deserved to win."

Lloyd-Walter's semi-final opponent will be Jenny Duncalf, the world No2 from Yorkshire who is seeded to win the women's trophy for the third time since 2007. The 28-year-old from Harrogate defeated Nottingham's Emma Beddoes in straight games.

"You always try and make sure that you don't let your opponent get much of a look-in - and I think I did that tonight," said Duncalf, from Harrogate. "I was trying to keep her behind me.

"It's nice to be on the glass court. It's good to be in the semis - I feel I'm in the tournament at last."

Men's quarter-finals:
[3] Daryl Selby (Essex) bt [7] Chris Ryder (Herts) 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4 (71m)
[5] Jonathan Kemp (Shropshire) bt [2] James Willstrop (Yorks) 11-8, 11-3, 10-12, 11-6 (48m)

Women's quarter-finals:
[1] Jenny Duncalf (Yorks) bt [5] Emma Beddoes (Warwicks) 11-5, 11-7, 11-4 (28m)
[7] Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Middx) bt [4] Sarah Kippax (Cheshire) 14-12, 11-7, 11-7 (40m)