British National Squash Championships 2016  •  08-14 February  •  Manchester

  2007 Finals

TODAY at the Nationals   

Sunday 18th, FINALS                     Plus lots of Masters

[6] Jenny Duncalf bt [4] Alison Waters
        5/9, 6/9, 9/3, 9/0, 9/3 (74m)

[1] James Willstrop bt [2] John White
         12/10, 11/7, 11/5 (44m)

Yorkshire double for James and Jenny

James Willstrop, the world No9 from Pontefract, and Jenny Duncalf, the world No12 from Harrogate, produced a sensational Yorkshire double in Manchester today by winning the men's and women's titles, respectively, in the British National Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre at Sportcity ...


from Howard Harding

Malcolm in Manchester
Willstrop at Sportcity

[6] Jenny Duncalf bt [4] Alison Waters
        5/9, 6/9, 9/3, 9/0, 9/3 (74m)

Duncalf comeback foils Waters
Steve Cubbins reports

"It felt like a good game, but sometimes on court you think 'I hope people are enjoying this', said new National Champion Jenny Duncalf after the match. She needn't have worried, they certainly did.

A full house at Sportcity witnessed a marvellous women's final which saw Alison Waters take a two-game lead which proved to be not quite enough as Jenny Duncalf staged a tremendous comeback which took her to a first National title.

Alison started in the same vein as in her semi-final last night, attacking well as she took the 12-minute first game, pulling away after a series oh handouts at 5-4. She doubled her lead, winning a 20-minute second game where the rallies were long, neither player able to find the winner on the hot, bouncy court. Again though, it was Alison who finished the better, taking four quick points from 5-6 down in stark contrast to what had gone before.

But Jenny had already failed to succumb to deficits twice this week, and she started the third as if she had confidence in her ability to come back once again. The long, punishing rallies continued up to 3-all, but then the dam burst. With Alison starting to look fatigued, Jenny took six quick points to pull a game back, and looking every inch the winner she took another nine unanswered points to level the match. She was having no trouble finding the winners now, leaving Alison flat-footed as she hit three boasts to finish off the fourth.

There was no let-up in the fifth for Alison either, who never stopped fighting, never stopped trying, but although she pulled back a few points of Jenny's early lead, the Yorkshire girl was soon surging ahead again, and soon placing a final delicate dropshot that would give her the coveted National title.

It was just reward for the level she has performed to this week, three hour-plus matches against higher-seeded opposition, coming from behind in each case - as well as a nice 50th birthday present for her mum!

"I went two nil up, but she played so well from that point on, and I just couldn’t get in back, I was on the back foot more or less all the time.

"I don’t think I relaxed after wining the first two games, she is the one who picked up the pace and controlled the rallies from then on…

"Yes I’ve been ill last week, food poisoning, but that’s not why I lost. Jenny just played better…"

"I think it was very high standard squash from both, with very extended constructive rallies.

"With Alison being ill last week, once it got to her legs, she could never get them back, all credit to Jenny I guess for keeping the pressure on and not letting her off the hook.

It’s nice to see two young players maturing and blossoming into World Class squash players. This kind of result doesn’t arrive by accident, like Jenny said, it’s a lot of work, from ES, from the Lottery Program.

"We’ve been trying to challenge the top three girls for a few years now with not much success. Hopefully with Alison and Jenny, we’ll be able to do so, maybe not in the next months, but in the next years…

And what a present for Joe, Jenny’s mother. She is 50 today…

England National Coach

"I wasn't envisaging this when I was 2-0 down, I felt a bit under the cosh to start with so in the third I just told myself to relax, to make it tougher for Alison without doing anything stupid, I didn't think I was giving her enough of a fight up until then.

"I got a good start in the third and my shots started coming off. I didn't feel tired, you don't feel tired when you're winning do you.

"Even so, you're in the fifth game in the Nationals final and you think 'oooooh,'! I got a bit edgy in the fifth, at 3/3/5 I felt miles away. She came back again but I knew if I stayed focussed I could win.  Alison hit a couple of tins and then I really started to think I could win it.

"I've never won a British Open or a World Open, but this is definitely the best for me so far, I'd much rather win this than a normal WISPA tournament.

"Beating Tania helped a lot, I really had to concentrate in that match and it helped me cope with being under the cosh for parts of the match. DP always tells me there will be patches like that in any match, you have to work on not stressing yourself out and trying to play your way back into it.

"It feels so good, after the last few months of last year which went so badly for me. As much as I hated losing and wasn't enjoying playing then I did learn a lot from it. I played ok in the US tournaments in January, making my seeding at least, and I've been training hard since then.

"There was less pressure on me, no-one was expecting me to win, I think the pressure of being top seed and defending champion got to Tania a bit so that worked in my favour.

"It's my mum's 50th today, I haven't got her a present yet so that'll probably do for starters!"

For the record, in PAR scoring:
  10/15, 18/21, 16/9, 13/4, 15/8

[1] James Willstrop bt [2] John White
         12/10, 11/7, 11/5 (44m)


Framboise reports

Oh boy was James happy… I saw him win a few, I was there in Pakistan for his Open title and the World Team Title with England, I was there in Qatar, I’ve seen him delighted. But this title… In Manchester… Home really, with all his “family” from Pontefract around him, Dad, David his brother… More than special.

And he entirely deserves this win, as he played out of this world today. Pure and simple…

The match was very simple really. The first game was all about John attacking from all angles, finding some superb shots that should have been winners again and again, but that James kept on sending back, and back, and back, putting pressure on the Tall Man again and again, pushing him to clip the tin rally after rally.

The second was a 50/50, both attacking and retrieving incredible shots with rallies from Hell and back, ridiculous squash as James would call it, but with James yet again finishing on top. And the third was all about James, as the fresher legs, the momentum, as the lesser years finally tipped the balance towards the Englishman.

As ever, John gave it all, from beginning to end, but James had all the answers tonight. After all those years looking at his compatriots lifting the trophy, after all those years dreaming about it, after all those years planning for it, working for it,  tonight, Young Mister Willstrop is now British National Champion.  

"Not much you can do when he plays like that.

"Before the match I had a talk with Hedley, and we decided to go for long rallies, and that’s what I did, I played like I did yesterday, length, but he always got those shots from the back of the court, and there was nothing I could do. His backhand drop shots from the back of the court were just out of this world today…Everything I was trying, I think I played as well as I did yesterday, but he seemed to have an answer for everything…

"The first game was crucial, 12/10, so close, and that’s why it was so painful to lose it, and then he took an good lead in the second, then a good lead in the third…

"He forced a few volleys on my backhand from his forehand that found the tin three or four times, it’s just one of those things, once again, not much I could do. And if I was playing a shot in the middle he would punish me, or would make me work extremely hard…

"James always loved this event, he came so close twice, he loves playing here, he loves playing in front of this crowd, it's fair enough!

"A bit disappointed to lose 3/0, but there is not much to say about losing against a player who plays so well from start to finish, cannot complain… Well, now, back to the drawing board, to mentally prepare for the ToC, but I’m taking a lot of positive from this tournament…

"Today, I’ve lost against the Gentle Giant… Who I don’t like right now, but who I will in a day or two…"

"I’m going to hurt in the morning…

I don’t like having a strict game plan, because things can change, and although I wanted the rallies to last, I never get on court against players like John or Shabana thinking I’m going to play length, length, length, it would be ridiculous, if you play too simple, it’s not going to work. So I tried to fire at him a bit, and if I was playing length, making sure that it was very wide, and very accurate…

"John puts you under so much pressure, the pace he plays at is incredible, he nobody on the circuit can match his speed, maintaining it is the problem I guess, and at 33, he is doing amazingly well…

"I haven’t played at this pace for quite a while. With John, it’s always a bit frenetic, but in terms of sheer pace, he is definitely the fastest on the circuit..

"You would always take fresher legs as to being tired, but I didn’t want to be underdone either, as the last time I had any kind of real physical work was what, about a week ago, I didn’t open my lungs, so I was glad to play Saurav yesterday. And obviously, not playing Lee made a huge difference, as we always play very tough matches, it would have been bound to be a long match as well…

"And when you play against John, it’s all a question of reacting to the pace, you’ve got to be fresh to bounce back, and weather that absolutely ridiculous blistering pace, which of course, drops down as the match goes along. So maybe that’s why I was able to handle his game well at the start, because I was very fresh, and that made winning the first game all the more important…

"Today my backhand drop shots were going in nicely, it was one of those days they just go in, it’s nice when it does, but then when it goes wrong, I remember the semi-final two years ago against Lee, they are that high, bouncing in the middle, it was horrible…

"I’m so happy to have won this event, it’s held in such high regard by everyone around the world, I’m not saying it’s better than the other Nationals, it’s just huge…Along with winning the World Open and the British Open, winning the Nationals was definitely one of my lifetime ambitions…

"I’m over the moon, I’ve been coming to this event for so many years, even as a Kid, I saw John win it, I saw Lee win it a couple of times… The amount of inspiration I got from the event is incredible…

"I got out of the habit of winning, I had a good run with winning Qatar then with the World Team Title as well, but after that, not much happened… So it’s nice to win again, and just before the ToC, this win gives me a confidence boost…"


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