British National Squash Championships 2016    08-14 February    Manchester

  2006 Finals


Day EIGHT, Sun 12th Feb 2006:

 [2] Tania Bailey bt [1] Linda Elriani  
        9/7, 6/9, 9/6, 9/3 (76m)

Appearing in her first National final, Tania Bailey wrested the crown from defending champion Linda Elriani in an enthralling final at the National Squash Centre ...


  [4] Nick Matthew bt [3] Lee Beachill
       11/9, 6/11, 11/9, 10/12, 12/10 (105m)

Lee Beachill was aiming for his fourth National title, Nick Matthew his first ... both wanted it so badly, and both gave their absolute all in front of a packed, enthralled crowd at the National Squash Centre.



Nationals EN BREF

[4] Nick Matthew bt [3] Lee Beachill
       11/9, 6/11, 11/9, 10/12, 12/10 (105m)

Steve Cubbins reports

What a match. What a way to finish. The longest of the tournament by some margin, and the most tense and exciting by a distance. If Gary Thwaite had earlier been 'the Spaniard', despatching his victim quickly in the O35, here we had two champion gladiators going head to head.

In the first game defending champion Beachill seemed to draw Matthew into his web, slow, steady squash, up and down the walls, looking to work the opening. Matthew was trying to find a way to break free, but Beachill kept him in check. Nothing to separate them up to 9-all, then a lob from Beachill went out to give Matthew game ball, and fantastic retrieving by both with Beachill finally clipping the tin to give Matthew the 24-minute game.

Lee was not daunted, came back for the second and, helped by more than enough errors from Nick, went out to a 7/2 lead. Nick closed slightly, but it was enough, as Lee Levelled.

Then it was Matthew's turn to start well, six unanswered points at the start of the third, all winners. Beachill found the will to match him, but still found himself 5/10 down. Matthew's fine start was long gone, and four tins made it tense, but a stroke after yet another long punishing rally gave the Sheffield man the lead.

Still Beachill was not done. Urged on by the large Pontefract contingent, he imposed his style again, long patient rallies characterising the start of the fourth, Matthew seemingly willing to join in. There was nothing to split them, Matthew led 3/1, Beachill brought it back to 6/3, it reached 9-all, Beachill got to 10 first, couldn't make it count, but a crosscourt nick followed by a tin from Matthew and it was all level. We would have a decider.

How Beachill was still going was a mystery. Three titles and six finals in a row was probably the answer. He got to 6-3, then Matthew closed to 7-6. Still he was not done. Beachill won the next three points - won them with good shots - to earn four match balls. Exhausted as he was, surely they were enough.

Matthew mishit from deep into the nick. Beachill's loose shot was punished with a stroke. He was left stranded as Matthew moved him to all corners. One the last one he played a counter drop too close to himself - stroke. Beachill had hoped that Matthew's drop was down ... the referee disagreed.

They weren't enough, it was 10-all.

Two more incredibly tense rallies, both ending in tins from an exhausted Beachill, and an exhausted Matthew was National Champion ...

"I lost count of how many times my legs went in that match. Every time I thought  that Lee had gone, that I had him, he would just come back, again and again.

"You could tell who had won it three times and who hadn't won it yet. I've made a habit of getting to finals and not winning, but I really wanted to win this one.

"I could hardly hold the racket in the final stages of the match, it was so nerve-wracking.

"I got about nine lucky nicks to his three, which probably made the difference in the end.

"As well as my coaches, my parents, my supporters and everyone else, I want to thank my Grandad, who has supported me throughout everything. He would have been here but he's in hospital ... I told him I'd win it for him, so there you go Grandad."

"Two weeks ago I probably wasn't even going to compete in the event, so I'm delighted to have got so far. I didn't think I had a performance in me like last night's semi, let alone two like that back to back.

"But by the time I got to match ball I had absolutely nothing left.

"This has helped me feel up for the coming season. After the year I had last year, putting so much pressure on myself, my confidence dropped, but I feel I can do well in upcoming events, with performances like this and a bit more preparation under my belt."


Nick Matthew has appeared in 18 PSA finals, winning just four of them.



 [2] Tania Bailey bt [1] Linda Elriani  
       9/7, 6/9, 9/6, 9/3 (76m)

Malcolm Willstrop reports

The first game between champion Linda Elriani and challenger Tania Bailey was thoroughly contested with neither player able to get clear. Nor was the game negative in any way as both girls showed a willingness to play from the word go.

It was Bailey who reached game ball first at 8-7 and on her second opportunity she went one up.

Anyone doubting the competitiveness of the women's game would have had this dispelled as Elriani recovered from 0-6 down in the second to level the scores at one-all.

The match continued in the same way in the third, the quality and intensity at a high level until Bailey, looking stronger and more assured nowadays, drew clear late on to take what seemed a crucial 2-1 lead.

Bailey capitalised and went quickly ahead in the fourth and was always comfortably in front. Her first match ball was at 8-3, the second ended in a let, the third went to Elriani, the fourth came at 8-4 and that was it - Bailey had won her first senior national title.

After an illustrious junior career ending in winning the world title in Rio, Bailey has been beset with illness. Now back to full form and fitness, she has clearly gathered confidence.

Her recent results have shown she is rapidly coming back to her best and this win will do her no end of good.

With Bailey, Vicky Botwright, Jenny Duncalf, Alison Waters, Laura Lengthorn and others, England's women's squash is in a healthy state. But this was Bailey's day - she deserved it after all her trials. She must, in her moment of success, feel all the battling against illness has been worth it.

"Brilliant, I'm so happy, I just can't believe it.

"I knew I was playing well, I had some good results in the last year, but I never seem to manage to win anything. I thought I had a good chance here, but to actually win it is something else.

"We've played many times, so I knew what to expect, we both like to volley wherever we can and control the 'T'. I played well at the start, then started to relax in the second, thinking I had it won before I actually did. Before I knew it it was six-all and I couldn't stop her.

"I tried to step up and get in front again, and to think about the point in hand, not about other things like it being my first national final and so on.

"I said to myself 'come on, you don't want to lose it now after getting this close.'

"Having had so many problems over the years you appreciate it even more, so being able to do it here, on a stage like this, is just fantastic."

"I thought I did well to come back into it in the second after a poor start, and we were level pegging in the third until I lost my way a little, I just couldn't get her behind me any more.

"It was a bit of a strange game, a little one-paced as we were both trying to force each other to the back and control the T.

"But she managed to get in front at the right times, and played the right shots.

"All credit to her, she thoroughly deserves it. I may be back next year, we'll just have to see ..."


Tania's last victory on the WISPA tour was the San Francisco International Challenge in May 2000.



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