TODAY at the Nationals 2008
Third time lucky for Alison
as James retains ...
Alison Waters claimed her first senior national title, in
her third time in the final, while James Willstop retained
his men's title in front of a packed crowd at the National Squash
Centre in Sportcity, Manchester.
Earlier in the masters finals Yawar Abbas was a popular
local winner of the Men's O40 title while Peter Marshall
beat local favourite Nick Taylor to claim the O35 title.
Read on ...
Alison Waters bt  Laura
6/11, 11/7, 11/8,
Third time lucky for Alison
The women's final saw Alison Waters making her third appearance in
the final, Laura Lengthorn-Massaro her first, but both were aiming
for their maiden title.
It was the local girl who started better, clearly 'up for it'
controlling the rallies, keeping Alison to the back and pulling
clear from 7/6 to take the lead. Her "C'MON" told us what we knew
already, that she really wanted this.
But Alison wanted it too - less demonstrative maybe, but equally
determined, from the outset of the second she started playing more
varied squash, and gradually wrested the control from her
Not that it was ever easy, but Alison worked for, and maintained
leads during the second and third games, where Laura's drive
seemed to be slightly down from that first game.
It was back for the fourth though, more purposeful again Laura
took an early 4/0 lead and consolidated it to 8/4.
Alison fought back to level at 9-all, winning all but one of those
points with her own winners, then finished the match off with a
wonderful volley drop at the end of a long, hard rally and an
equally good pushed dropshot to give her the title at the third
Things were getting tense out there, I’m lucky I was able to hit a
few lucky shots at the end.
I’ve known Laura since we were about 12 years old, I have enormous
respect for her.
"At the start, she played really well, she
volleyed across the middle a lot, and I didn’t do much with the
ball, just length. So in the second, I started and mix it a bit
more, adding a few drop shots here and there, being patient…
At 9/9 in the third I got really tense, and thought, I really need
to get this, the pressure was on me I think to win it, but
luckily, I found two great shots, not sure where they came from,
they were there for me to take really…!
Funny to be here again, the first time it was four years ago, when
Linda desperately wanted to win it, and it was my first time, it
was a bit too much, then last year, when I lost against Jen, I was
Celebrations? I suspect a few drinkies will be in order tonight…
Three times lucky and it feels pretty good!"
think she upped her game at the end and played really well.
"At the start, I was playing well, and forced a few errors out of
her. Still, not too disappointed, I think I did not too bad,
except being at 8/4 up in the fourth, and letting her come back
and take the game and match 11/9. With that scoring, it goes so
"But I think she was a bit more adventurous than I was, at the
end, when I had the opportunity to make a drop shot, I started
thinking, American scoring, and held it back. She didn’t, she went
for it… It’s all a question of a few errors here and there, and
that make the difference between losing and winning a match…
"Oh well, better luck next time, I won the title in all junior age
groups, hopefully I’ll win this one too…"
James Willstrop bt  Lee
11/9, 11/8, 11/4 (39m)
BACK TO BACK
Not many people would have bet on Lee tonight, but I thought he
played bleeping well in the first game, forcing James onto the
backfoot more or less the whole game, although he seemed not too
happy about a no let decision at
8/9, a sentiment that seems to be shared by a few people around.
I'm not sure if it had a real incidence on the outcome of the
match, but it was a bit too close to the end of the game for it
not to count at some level.
Still, I don’t believe that one decision makes a match, and in the
second, Lee let James run away with the score 5/0, then 10/4
before clawing back to life to 10/8. But then, no patience
whatsoever, and he goes for a winner after three shots. In the
Coming back from 2/0 down against James was never going to be
easy, and it wasn’t going to help when he saw Lee grimacing in
pain at 2/0 in the third, starting to stretch his right leg. We
knew then it was all over.
On a personal note, I would like to thank Mick Todd, who kindly
gave me his seat to allow me to watch the men’s final in good
conditions. Thanks Mick.
Since the surgery,
I’m getting twinges all the time, but in the third game, there was
one movement in particular that gave me a nasty twinge, on the
I’m a bit annoyed with myself because I went on there expecting to
be further away from him than I actually was. I was moving better
than I thought I would, even with a few restrictions. And I was
expecting him to come right at me, and when I realised he wasn’t,
I didn’t react like I should have, more mentally than anything
I feel that at 8/10 down in the 3rd, I let myself down. I guess
that yesterday’s match took more than me than I realised, and I
probably have been a bit too casual about it.... Also, in the
first game, I get a terrible decision at 9/8, that probably change
the course of the game, and you don’t know, I’m not saying that I
would have won the match, but I would have been able to put much
more pressure on him...
But nobody wins against James by flashing shots, I should have
been able to play a more lengthen game, but to play length, you’ve
got to be fit, and I didn’t feel like playing one hour and twenty
But to be honest, once I sit back and reflect, I’ll realise
probably that I did a very good match yesterday, that I did back
it up not too badly, and if that’s word standard, I’m not too far
such an honour to get back to back titles, it’s such a brutal
tournament to win, and that’s without Nick in it, it will be even
more difficult when he gets back… It’s such a fantastic event and
a real pleasure to play here.
It’s so difficult to play against Lee, you can’t give anything
away, it’s always going to come back… I was expecting him to go
for it, because I really didn’t think he would like to trade… (not
sure what he meant..) I didn’t expect anything less than the
hardest of matches, and maybe I was a bit too cautious. But I know
that I just can’t just flash about, he is too accurate, so I had
to approach the game carefully, and if it meant that it was a
tough match, well so be it.
But squash is made of fine lines, the first game was so close, I’m
not sure what would have happen if he had taken the first game,
then, the pressure would have been on me…
would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people behind
the scene, all the people that are making this event possible, and
of course, all the people that are helping this event financially,
Hi Tech, Manchester City Council and all the others. The refs of
course, who are supporting us day in day out, the audience, it’s
such a treat to play here, and of course, a few people, Malc,
David, Damon (in America), and this week Sylvan, Graham and Cheryl
on the physio side of things, you have been able to see that our
bodies are breaking down, Lee’s more than mine. And of course, I
would like to thank everybody at Pontefract, and Mick my manager.
Now, it’s off to Virginia, a Super Series event, then in Boston,
and of course Canary Wharf, a title I would like very much to
retain. Also, my main focus this year, the British Open and of
course, the World Open, especially as it will be played here, in
Manchester, in front on my home crowd…
M40 Yawar Abbas bt Jonathan
9/7, 9/0, 9/8
M70 Pat Kirton bt John Woodlife
9/1, 9/1, 9/2
W45 Fran Wallis bt Victoria King
6/9, 9/5, 9/1, 9/7
M60 Philip Ayton bt Barry Featherstone
9/6, 9/4, 9/1
W35 Jeannine Cowie bt Claire Walker
9/2, 3/9, 9/2, 9/6
W50 Helen Gould bt Juliet O'Neill
9/1, 8/10, 5/9, 9/5, 9/4
M65 Adrian Wright bt Len Froggitt
9/1, 9/4, 9/3
M55 Howard Cherlin bt David Lumsden 4/9, 9/5, 9/1,
W50 Carole Page bt Claire Kluyver
8/10, 5/9, 9/4, 9/5, 9/0
M35 Peter Marshall bt Nick Taylor
9/7, 4/9, 0/9, 9/4, 9/0
my second O55 National title, I'll be 60 next month so I'll be
challenging Mr Ayton next year.
"I'm known for being a bit flamboyant and unconventional with my
shots, nothing too sensible. I'm pleased with how I played today,
I changed my game back to my old style, lobbing a lot and slowing
it down, because he was having trouble with it.
"He was having trouble with his feet, wasn't as mobile as he
usually is, but I'm delighted to win."
from the same county [Avon] but we've never played because she ran
away when she was 21, didn't come back until her 40s, so we play
on the county team together rather than against each other.
"It was a good game, I'm glad it went to five and we both enjoyed
"I won the British Open O45 three years ago, but this is my first
"She didn't want to play this because she didn't want to admit to
being Over 50 to anyone ! Good game, I really enjoyed it."
Yawar Abbas bt Jonathan Clark
9/7, 9/0, 9/8
TEARS OF A SON…
a strange match that was. Two players that know each other since
school days, who’ve been playing each other throughout the
juniors, who know each other’s game inside out…
And it starts very well for Yawar. More secure on the glass court,
more fluid with his movement, his length and width well in place,
he is totally dominating his opponent, who seems a bit lost at
But then, at 5/1 in the first, John obviously suffers from a sharp
pain in the left leg groin. Limping a bit, he’ll finish the game
on one leg… The physio is called, but nothing can be done really
in such a short period of time, and our John gets back on court,
only a shadow of himself, obviously in pain every time he tries to
lounge on that leg – not that we are doing much of that in a
squash match!!!! The game is over in a flash, John limping, not
moving, and obviously in excruciating pain.
that point, we all think he is going to retire, but the man sticks
in, and goes to go back on court, when he suddenly notices that
his son in the first row is in tears… He quickly goes off court to
console his child, who is desperate to see him in so much pain…
And my theory is that was gave John wings. Suddenly, he forgets
about the pain, he forgets about the leg, and started running, and
finding some great shots and lenghts, and retrieving like a
Yawar must have been a bit of a turmoil, as one minute his
opponent isn’t moving, the next one he is covering twice the court
surface, as if they were two of him.
The Manchester Event Man eventually got the better today, but one
can only salute the gutsy and emotional performance of John Clark,
who came back at 8/8, set 1, match ball for Yawar and although a
let was awarded after a bit of confusion at the front of the
court, graciously conceded defeat and didn’t ask for the let to be
Two great sportsmen on court today for the over 40’s.
The final shot ...
For the past 5 years, I’ve been too busy with running the event I
couldn’t possibly play in the age groups. But this year, we’ve
appointed Isport Marketing and Paul Walters to run the event, and
that freed a lot of my time!
The sort of rallies you saw in the third is normally how our
matches start, so you can see an indication of our style of
matches! So I was pretty happy to get a good start this time, and
get to 2/0 fast…
Playing on that glass court is a totally different game, the
rallies are shorter, it’s taking the shots better, completely
different game. And if we were playing on a traditional court, we
would still be on it…
John and I we grew up together, he is two years older than me, and
he was getting to County Championships always two years ahead of
me… We know each other so well..
At some point in the second, I thought he was going to retire, but
I would have refused to shake his hand, I didn’t want it to finish
it like that. But when at match ball, 8/8, so close, he shook my
hand, I accepted it, it was too close for comfort…
Peter Marshall bt Nick Taylor
9/7, 4/9, 0/9, 9/4, 9/0 (89m)
WHAT A GENTLEMAN…
was astonished today with the quality of sportsmanship of both
players, Marsh asking for lets, and never expecting a stroke, and
Nick correcting several calls from the ref in favour of his
opponent, once in particular in the marathon first game (31mn), at
5/6 for him, with a “Sorry, I can’t…. speak… it’s only a let, not
a stroke”, but most important, in the fifth, when being led 2/0,
awarding a let after Peter got a (in my eyes) unfair no let…
Throughout the match, Nick kept his sense of humour at all times
(“He would have got there if it wasn't for you and the
interference” says the ref, “are you calling me fat????” stances
Nick) and showed immense respect for his opponent.
Nope, not too much, as he still made the poor man run all over the
court backwards and forward. What’s really impressive with Nick’s
game is his racquet skills, honestly, you give him an Egyptian
name, and trust me, he can get away with it. Also, his retrieving,
astonishing. And his tactical logic.
What a combination especially on a court like that which is so
Marsh is less of a shot player, his strength resides in his length
and width, and his anticipation skills. His fitness was the big
factor of this match. Was he going to be able to sustain Nick’s
relentless volley drop shots and accelerations at the back of the
answer is no. He couldn’t. And in the middle of the second, Marsh
was dead. Absolutely knackered. The third was a formality, but
instead of turning the screw of exhaustion on poor Marsh in the
fourth, after a few change of hands at 3/2 for Peter, Nick just
made unforced error after unforced error, allowing his opponent to
catch his breath…
Breath and confidence back, it was now Marsh’s turn to get the
rewards from that court, and his short game started to get it like
a knife spreading butter.
Frustrated at himself, Nick just couldn’t get back mentally in the
fifth, made five unforced errors, could only get the serve back on
one occasion, and just couldn’t stop Peter Marshall from getting
his first title since…. the National Championship he won against
David Evans in 2000.
"I got him where I wanted him, but I
let him off the hook, I didn’t make him work hard enough in the
fourth, so I’m pretty annoyed right now!
"But I played him in September, he has improved immensely. Still,
I got him where I needed him…"
"It took me a while to get to see the ball on there, I don’t play
on that court anymore, so I really struggled and didn’t have much
confidence to play short game. It’s only at the end, in the fifth,
that I started to really get used to the court, used to the light,
and that’s when I was able to go for shots. By then, I feel that
he got tired, he made a couple of errors, and it went away pretty
quickly after that…
"In the fourth he let me back in, his movement seemed to slow down
a bit too, but during the match, we had a few hard rallies, and if
I got him on the end of one I would score a few points in a row,
and it was the same for him.
"I’m really happy, but a bit surprised, because I didn’t think I
was going to come back in that one…"