TODAY in Herentals -
Sat 30th, Day FOUR:
En Bref #3
 Natalie Grinham (Ned)
bt [3/4] Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
11/5, 11/4 (35m)
[3/4] Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt
 Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
 Laura L-Massaro (Eng) bt [3/4] Isabelle Stoehr
[5/8] Laurens Jan Anjema (Ned) bt  Nick Matthew (Eng)~
Grinham takes debut win as
Lincou ends Gaultier's reign
We were guaranteed one Dutch and one French winner in Herentals,
and it was 'new girl' Natalie Grinham and 'old boy' Thierry
Lincou who took the spoils.
Grinham came from a game down to beat compatriot Vanessa
Atkinson while Lincou inflicted Gregory Gaultier's first defeat
in the event as the five-time defending champion retired injured
during the second game.
Framboise reports from Herentals
Well, not exactly funny ha ha, but weird…
First, Nick has a swollen ankle, and is not able to play
3/4th place against Keen and Dying to play LJ who gets a
well deserved bronze medal, as he was probably the most
motivated of all here.
Second, you have Isabelle who twisted her weak ankle (the
one that prevented her from playing for France in several
occasions) in the first game of her match for the bronze medal
against Laura, who after her loss yesterday, really
wanted to have a good game, win or lose, as she said.
So a tough match to play for both, as the French girl is still
extremely dangerous with her racquet on one leg, and not too
easy too watch, as there were hardly any rallies… Frustrating
for Laura to win that way too, not the way she wanted it, I know
that for a fact.
But funnily enough, it’s the other matches that got all our
attention, like the Flamboyant Italian Jose I told you
about several times, that was battling for hours against
Rasmus to finally take the match 3/2 (and finish 11th), a
victory that he saluted with a loud “YEAAAAAAH” that I could
hear all the way from the Press Room.
And what about Peter Barker, who had to work so hard
against Dog with a Bone Renan Lavigne. The Englishman had
several match balls in the third, but you know Renan, never
giving up, after 76m of hard battle, the Frenchman takes it,
11/5 in the 5th… With a temperature of around 30°… Bless….
So, so far, the fun is in the wings. I’m sure that it will come
centre stage in a little while, when the finals get on the way…
the Referees ...
... and the Champions
"I know I had to go out strong, because I knew from the last
couple of times I played her, that I would struggle physically.
She is 20kg lighter than I am, and fitter…
"She knows how to play me, even if it's not winners, she knows
how to make me move constantly to the front…
"In the first game I was able to force errors from the back, but
in the second I played stupidly, I still felt good from the
first, and I took her too short too quickly, and from there, it
was an uphill battle.
"She felt it, and kept moving me around, especially with her
crosscourt shot, I felt like a big truck getting to them…!!!
"But I’m happy with my tournament overall, and not too
disappointed with my match, I lost, but I know why, it’s not
Natalie Grinham (Ned) bt [3/4]
Vanessa Atkinson (Ned)
11/5, 11/4 (35m)
NATALIE TAKES THE TITLE…
After a slow start from Natalie, five bad unforced errors from a
top seed who seemed really not at her ease on there, with a
Vanessa precise and accurate, it all changed dramatically.
Vanessa rushed to the front a bit in the second, while Natalie
found that all that went in the tin in the first game were now
becoming stunning winners. Vanessa lobbed when needed, found
some lovely volleying, and ran a tremendous amount, but was
getting later and later on the ball, therefore unable to apply
any pressure on her opponent when we got in the middle of the
From that moment on, the writing was on the glass wall I guess,
and although Vanessa kept playing the right game plan, she
covered probably triple the distance Nat did, saving a match
ball at 10/3, but finally shaking her compatriot’s hand at 11/4…
"I made a few errors at the start. First, it’s all about getting
used to the court again, getting the feel of it, but also,
Vanessa played very well. Also, I was a bit edgy, but she was
forcing me to play shots from positions I shouldn’t have…
"I was a bit nervous, because I was out at the start of the
year, I’ve been ill, so I’m still not that confident, I’m coming
back into it slowly… Also, I’m still not that confident about
the change of scoring. Before, I could be at 6/0 down, I was
pretty confident I could come back, whereas now, if you don’t
take a good start, you are really in trouble…
"Yes, I like that backhand crosscourt drop shot, I know it’s
rather deceptive. I didn’t really learn it, I don’t know, I
guess it comes from learning squash by just playing, and not
being coached. So I would try and find ways to find ways of
deceiving people on court…
"I don’t know what makes me still want to compete at 31. First,
I’m extremely competitive, and I always want to win, whatever I
do, the minute I step on court, or play cards, etc.
"I still haven’t won a World Title though, and this year it’s in
Holland so that’s something I really want to achieve. And I
haven’t decided yet when I want to stop and try having kids. One
thing I know, now is not the time, I’m not ready for it yet, I’m
"I would like to thank ESF, the Flemish federation, all the
event sponsors who made this competition possible. On a personal
note, I would like to thank all my sponsors, the Dutch
federation, and our National coach.
"Thanks very much to you all…"
Thierry Lincou (Fra) bt 
Gregory Gaultier (Fra)
BATTLE OF WILLS…
For once, I was able to sit in the middle of my compatriots to
watch the match - normally I stay away to stay clear from any
partial attitude I may develop, well I try anyway, give me that…
And it was quite comforting to feel that French presence around
me I must say, I don’t know how to explain it…. And the players,
coach, etc, of course, they help me to understand what is going
on on there every time a bit better.
We all noticed that energy and testosterone was not exactly
flowing during the warm up, I mentally thought, well, Greg is
tired in the head, and Thierry in the legs. Obviously, in those
circumstances, the first game was always to be crucial…
They didn’t seem to hit too hard to start with, neither wanting
to burn the few reserves they had left, but the more the match
advanced, the faster the pace, the more precise the drives, and
the attacks more damaging for the legs.
And it seemed to me that it was Thierry who was choosing where
the ball was going 90% of the time, he seemed to direct the
hostilities, although Greg still mixed his pace/shots/angles
8/7 for Greg. A few massive rallies, four lets, crucial point, a
big difference between 9/7 and 8/8. A last enormous rally, with
both attacking and retrieving each their turn, but it’s the Old
Timer that finds the low drive kill that passes Greg.
Still, Greg gets the next two points, 10/8 game ball with quick
winners, but he is a bit heavier in the legs and in the head
than Thierry I feel. Another set of heavy rallies, and two lets,
and again Thierry finds a winner on the backhand. 9/10. And in
three shots, another kill at the front. 10/10.
There is something in Greg’s face that tells me he won’t get the
next two shots. And in a few seconds, it’s 12/10 for Thierry.
“I think that was a match ball,” murmurs one of the spectators…
And he was right. Thierry takes an excellent start in the
second, but in fact Greg is not moving well at all. He clearly
shows that he is suffering in the same place he did after the
Super Series Finals, clutching the same muscle.
He still to tried to play a few rallies, but then just goes to
Thierry and shakes his hand. It’s all over…
"I would like to thank the organisers, the Hannes family, I’ve
known them for a long time, since the juniors, and it’s always
nice to come here and see them…
"This was a great week for me, I was very keen to play here,
maybe Greg wasn’t as determined as I was today, and I was lucky
in the final.
"But at 33, I didn’t retire, I’m still here, and for that, I’m
happy. And I’m happy to keep going a bit longer… and I hope we are all going to have a great party tonight…"