National Titles Defence Successfully Underway For ElShorbagy & Kennedy
17 Aug 2023
Top seeds Mohamed ElShorbagy and Georgina Kennedy began their title challenges at the British National Championships with respective opening round wins over world No.99 Finnlay Withington and world No.117 Lowri Roberts at St George's Hill Lawn and Tennis Club in Weybridge.
ElShorbagy - who captured the men's trophy on his British Nationals debut 12 months ago - put in a commanding performance against Withington, who was making his third appearance at the event.
The world No.3 and England No.1 completed an 11-5, 11-9, 11-8 victory in 26 minutes to set up a quarter-final match against Welsh qualifier Emyr Evans, who upset world No.55 Curtis Malik to claim his first win at the Nationals since 2018.
"He's a great player and I think he is one of the future players of this country," said ElShorbagy of his 19-year-old opponent.
"I did not take this match lightly at all, I really studied him a lot before the match, he's very unorthodox and very talented.
"I definitely want to win the title. I think if there is a player in the draw who is playing this event and not thinking about winning the title, they shouldn't be here. We are all here because we want to win this title. We are out here fighting hard, aggressively, but with respect. That's what we did today, and that's what I'll do in the next round."
ElShorbagy will be joined in the last eight of the men's draw by 2021 winner Joel Makin. World No.10 Makin - a losing finalist to ElShorbagy in last year's final - was in confident form as he dispatched world No.100 Perry Malik in straight games.
"I was well aware of what Perry could do, I've seen him play loads of times and he's dangerous, he's got some weapons and he's not afraid to go for it," said No.2 seed Makin.
"It's [the Nationals] a good benchmark of where you are. Everyone is in different parts of their summer training coming into the season, no one is really sure where they are yet, but personally it's a title I want to win, I enjoyed winning it a few years ago and I think it carries a lot of weight still."
Makin will go up against No.10 seed Joe Lee for a place in the semi-finals, with Lee battling to a 3/2 upset win against No.6 seed George Parker. Elsewhere, No.3 seed Patrick Rooney defeated fellow Englishman James Peach, ensuring he will go up against No.7 seed Charlie Lee. Adrian Waller and Nick Wall also progressed and will face off in the other men's quarter-final match.
Women's No.1 seed Kennedy - the runner-up in 2021 - got her Nationals off to a fine start with a dominant win against Welshwoman Lowri Roberts, winning 11-2, 11-7, 11-0 in 23 minutes.
"It's nerve-racking having not played a competitive match since the [PSA World] Tour Finals," Kennedy said.
"It's weird to be the No.1 seed, it's weird territory for me. The competition is class because obviously you have SJ [Perry] and Tesni [Evans] as the two and three seeds and the depth of the British game is really strong."
Mead was unable to convert four game balls in both of the first two games as Perry hung on to build up a 2/0 lead by the skin of her teeth. The third game saw Perry cut out the errors as she closed out a 12-10, 12-10, 11-8 win which will see her take on No.7 seed Katie Malliff for a place in the semi-finals.
Perry said: "I'm really pleased to get through in three because Alicia isn't an opponent to be taken lightly and she came out firing. I lost my way a little bit in the first and found myself 10-6 down and had to really find my corners, and I managed to do that.
"I think I'll have to find my corners more consistently tomorrow to be in with a chance of winning, I've just got to keep improving. I think we are all a little bit rusty from the summer break, but I have worked really hard over the summer and I'm pretty confident in my fitness."
Perry will take on No.7 seed Katie Malliff next, with Malliff overcoming Scottish qualifier Alison Thomson in four games. Defending champion Jasmine Hutton also progressed after beating Millie Tomlinson and she will play 2019 runner-up Emily Whitlock next.