The British Open Masters returns, running from 8th to 12th December at Colets …
Chairman’s Report – Day 5 Sunday 12th December
Men’s 75: Guy Davies formerly a Zimbabwean International and now still coaching in Devon won a World Silver Medal a few years ago and it soon became clear that he was the man to beat. No one could and even four-time World Champion Adrian Wright (YKS) could touch him. A first British Open for Davies and a 3/0 win.
Men’s 70: Three weeks ago Terry Belshaw (CBA) demolished Ian Ross (SCO) in the final of the Midlands Open and was top seed here. To his credit Ross completely turned the tables on him and reversed that result with a competitive 3/0 win with all games being close to give the Scotland Champion a British Open to go with an earlier European title.
Men’s 65: Top seed Clive London (KNT) doesn’t travel often but when he turns up at tournaments he usually wins them. He won two Opens in the last age group and was looking very dominant here. Masters Chairman Stuart Hardy had been playing well and this was his fourth Open final. London continued his form never letting Hardy settle into his rhythm and ran out a straight games win. A third British Open.
Men’s 60: Mark Sealy from Barbados had been dominant through the draw removing very good players with some comfort. John Parkes (WOC) has been close to the big titles before but never quite converted. This was a contrast in styles with Parkes hitting firmly and sprinting round the court at pace while Sealy played higher moving the ball relentlessly. It inevitably got to the fifth game and it was Parkes that withstood the onslaught and with some fantastic recoveries took the fifth for his first British Open Championship.
Men’s 55: Yawar Abbas (DCL) has won all the big titles and was favourite here but Jon Foster (HPH) is renowned as an exceptional player. The match was a cracking contest with both players playing every shot in the book and covering the court that would please men 20 years younger. In a tight match Foster had two opportunities to level in the fourth but Abbas saved them and converted the later match point to take the final.
Men’s 50: This was always going to be a battle. John Musto from the USA came over and won a couple of years ago and was looking for another title. However, David Ayerst the Irish Champion has played the Masters circuit this season and shown his class and resilience. This was a great battle of tactics and skill. Ayerst clinched the first 12/10 but Musto struck back to level. The next two were dogged battles for each point but it was Ayerst who found the right shot and edged home 11/9 in the fourth. The British Open for the Irish man.
Men’s 45: Matt Holland (HPH) is a Colets player and on his home courts oozed class as he moved and hit beautifully all week. His final with the powerful striking Ian Cox (NOR) was eagerly awaited. Cox powered the ball round the court and hit some outrageous winners but Holland smooth as ever contained the power and countered with his own array of shots in deft touches. He forced Cox to errors and ran out a straight games winner for his first British Open title.
Men’s 40: Dave Barnett (NLD) has been performing at a very high level all season and as top seed here was favourite but Julian Wollny of Germany hits the ball with great power and accuracy and the match up as these two great players reached the final was eagerly awaited. So it proved and Barnett took the first 13/11 but Wollny struck back saving game balls to take the second 16/14. Barnett emerged the stronger in the third and managed to keep ahead and ran out a four game-winner for his maiden Open title.
Men’s 35: In all the events the most odds on favourite was the talented Tim Vail (SSX) in the men’s O35s. Vail was a top 20 England player for many years, multiple County Champion and coaching from Chichester has guided four juniors to National titles. Even with the pressure of being favourite the Sussex man did not seem phased as he seemed to make a difficult game easy. His final opponent Gary Hinton (HPH) the Winchester Club professional had come through a terrific battle in the semi-final against former champion Phil Nightingale but Vail was a step too far and inspite of some wonderful squash Vail came back with more and ran out a straight games winner. He adds another British Open O35 to his tally and also is the current British Open Racketball Champion.
Women’s 70: Ann Manley (AVN) and Bett Dryhurst (WOC) have played many many times and between them won a host of major age-group titles from Worlds to British Opens. Both women showed some lovely racket skills and played a great match but it was Ann who after losing the first 9/11 managed to keep ahead to take the next three. Her fifth British Open title. Bett actually has six!
Women’s 60: Jill Campion (MDX) has won British Opens before and has been playing well all season. She came into the final against Lesley Sturgess (DYS) the favourite but Lesley has been on fine form and took the first 15/13. Jill came back with the next two but Lesley levelled 11/9 and in a nervous battle through the fifth it was the experienced Campion that held on to take it 11/7 – her third British Open title.
Women’s 55: Rose Bamber (AVN) does not play many events but is a very very good player. She proved too strong for former National and British Open Champion Fiona McLean (BRK) and after a very close 12/10 first game ran out a comfortable winner.
Women’s 50: Izzy Bramhall (NOT) has won World Racketthon medals and numerous titles but this was a first British Open for her as she took on the superbly athletic Sam Mueller (BUX). Izzy just had the edge in each game and in spite of some great hitting and retrieval maintained the edge to take the final in straight games.
Women’s 45: The two top seeds were beaten by these two ladies so they thoroughly deserved their place in the final. The final once again had some fantastic squash on show from both players but it was Vix Smith (SRY) who had the edge on Rachel Calver (LEC) taking the first game and then edging home 12/10 in the second. The third went point for point but the momentum was with the Surrey woman and she ran out at 11/9 to win her first British Open title.
Women’s 40: Natalie Lawrence (SOM) beat top seed Joanne Elgood of Sweden in her semi-final and is playing very good squash. In the final she met Selina Harper (CBA) the No. 2 seed who had a close match with Kate Bradshaw (CBE). The final was thought to be very level and so it turned out to be with the women ferociously battling every point and the margins were very small. It was inevitable that it was going to five games with Harper taking the final game 11/7 in 44 minutes.
Women’s 35: Sarah Campion (CHS) was a circuit professional and was World ranked 15. She still plays like a World ranked player and now coaches at Queens Club Halifax. She moves and strikes the ball with great authority and emanates class in the whole of her game. She set about the final playing fantastic squash against Wales International Stacey Gooding and the result was never too much in doubt. A 3/0 win to Campion and her first British Open.
Stuart Hardy, Chairman
Chairman’s Report – Day 4 Saturday 11th December
Now it gets serious. Semi finals day. With the coveted place in a British Open final at stake and some of the best Masters squash players in the world competing for them a feast of squash was in store and so it proved.
Women’s 60: In a battle of two World Masters Champions the result can go either way and these ladies have won and lost against each other in equal measure. Today it was Jill Campion (MDX) who had the edge against Karen Hume (KNT) playing her brand of clever controlled squash who took the semi final in four games. In the final she will meet Lesley Sturgess (DYS) who upset previous form and seeding to beat double National Champion Sian Johnson of Wales.
Women’s 55: Top seed Rose Bamber (AVN) a former Open and National Champion herself is looking ominously good as she overwhelmed Karen Webb (BRK) in straight games with a mixture of pace and delicate touch. In the final she will meet former British Open and National Champion Fiona McLean of Scotland who overcame the powerful hitting of Fran Wallis (LCN) with her great court coverage.
Women’s 50: Izzy Bramhall (NOT) is the top seed here and a talented all round racket player. She had her work cut out with Sarah Parr (BRK) coming back to her best form and in a wonderful match it was Bramhall that came through 11/9 in the fifth game. She will meet Buckinghamshire professional Sam Mueller who took two quick games against Linda Pritchard (SPE) before having to battle very hard to squeeze the third 13/11.
Women’s 45: Shocks abound in this group. First Rachel Calver (LEC) a former National Champion played the match of her life against the Barbados star player Karen Meakins. It was nip and tuck all the way through and it was Calver who kept her nerve to edge home 11/9 in the fifth game. In the other side of the draw former British Open, National and European Champion Keeley Johnson (KNT) was favourite for the final but Vix Smith (SRY) had other ideas and after edging the first took control of the match and ran out a straight games winner. A great final in prospect.
Women’s 40: Joanne Elgood an English woman from Sweden was seeded 1 but not played to her usual standard and was soon 2/0 down against Natalie Lawrence (SOM). She recovered to take the third 12/10 but Lawrence’s firm hitting got her re-asserted in the fourth and took the game and the match. Selina Harper (CBA) looked to be set to go behind against Kate Bradshaw (CBE) but held her game together the better to pinch close first but Bradshaw did the same to level. The effort cost her and the third went quickly to Harper before another tremendous tussle ending with Harper taking the match 12/10 in the fourth.
Women’s 35: Sarah Campion (CHS) was a former National player and favourite for this event. It looked to be all on course at 2/0 up against Emmeline Gale (SRY) but a spirited fight back took the game into extra time and Campion was relieved to take it 13/11 to take her place in the final. Here she will meet Stacey Gooding of Wales who overcame second seed Polly Roylance-Smith (LCN) after losing the first game.
Men’s 75: No-one wins four world titles by not knowing how to play a match! Adrian Wright (YKS) went two up, took a breather, and snatched the fourth 15/13 against Chris Ansell (BRK) on his way back after injury and starting to play well again. Another major final for the Silver Fox. In the other semi final former Zimbabwean International Guy Davies (DVN) lost the first to Masters founder Martin Pearse (NOR) but then dominated the match with his superior movement and touch play.
Men’s 70: Cumbrian Terry Belshaw is the player in form in this group and is the No. 1 seed. He played former champion Barry Featherstone (HPH) for the third time this season. He went two up but Featherstone battled back to take the third and then the fourth 12/10. It was all to play for and the Hampshire man led 6/4 before Belshaw surged back to take the game 11/8. He now meets Scotland No. 1 Ian Ross, a former European Champion, who had to recover from a game down against Neil Nightingale (DYS) to take his place in the final.
Men’s 65: Clive London (KNT) was pushed hard by John Guyatt (WOC) who is having a fine season but London showed his class taking close second and third games 11/9 to seal the match. He meets Masters Chairman Stuart Hardy (WLT) who ended the run of Wales Champion Adrian Alderton who had already put out the No. 2 and a 5/8 seed. Hardy was too sharp and clinically went through in straight games.
Men’s 60: Mark Sealy (Barbados) continues to impress and he kept the pressure on European Champion Allen Barwise all through the match with good use of early volleys. Three competitive games all to Sealy. He now meets John Parkes (WOC) the No. 2 seed who won two incredibly tight games against Dermot Hurford (SRY) a former O55 British Champion. Hurford took the third to 9 but Parkes took a lead in the fourth and never let it go.
Men’s 55: Top seed Yawar Abbas (DCL) is looking to add to the 45 and 50 British Open titles he already has and he played with great control to get past another former champion in Eamonn Price (HFD) in three straight games. National Champion Jon Foster (HPH) also won in three but Nigel Styles (SRY) played some lovely squash and it was in question all the way through. A great final in prospect between the top two seeds.
Men’s 50: John Musto (USA) has won this title before and he was in no mood to travel all that way and not take the trophy home. John Simpson (YKS) had other ideas and having fallen 2/0 down launched a terrific counter attack to level the match. It was Musto who managed to find the right shots at the end of the fifth and he took the match 11/7 with some beautiful squash. He will meet the Irish No. 1 David Ayerst who had a tremendous match with Neil Frankland (SCO) winning 12/10, 15/13, 8/11, 11/7. A match containing some great skill and wonderful passion.
Men’s 45: Matt Holland (HPH) playing at his home club has been performing fantastically at a number of Masters tournaments. Looking for his first British Open final he was ahead of Ashley Bowling (OFE) in his semi final when unfortunately the latter had to retire injured. A first final for the Colets man. He meets the powerful hitting Ian Cox (NOR) who had too much for Croatian Domagoj Spoljar and also got through in straight games. A final of contrasting styles is in store.
Men’s 40: Dave Barnett (NLD) went 2/0 up against Jamie Goodrich (NOR) but in a game of numerous referring decisions Goodrich levelled at 2/2. The fifth was again action packed and controversial but it was Barnett that held his nerve and produced the right shots to take him to the British Open Final. Barnett will play Julian Wollny from Germany who produced a flawless performance to end Mick Biggs (MDX) run with a series of beautiful touch drop shots 3/0 to the German and a British Open final.
Men’s 35: It would be great to be as talented as Tim Vail (SSX) on a squash court but not many are. Against a powerful former circuit pro Rory Pennell (ESX) he seemed to have all the time in the world and comfortably pushed the ball around the court wherever his opponent was not. 3/0 to Vail. Second seed Phil Nightingale (SRY) the current British Open Champion O35 looked to be on a course for the final against Winchester Pro Gary Hinton (HPH) but after a slow start Hinton found his range and went 2/1 up. A blood injury at 10/10 in the fourth favoured Nightingale and he levelled the match. In the fifth Hinton was the more creative and earned good points from a feather like cross court drop. It was hard squash but Hinton took the fifth 11/8 in an hour for his first British Open Final.
The Finals all commence at 10.30am on Sunday and there will be some magnificent Masters squash on show.
Stuart Hardy, Chairman
Chairman’s Report – Day 3 Friday 10th December
Day three of the Championships proceeded with the quarter finals. The women’s events all moved into top gear and all the big names in the draws were in action.
Women’s O60: World Masters Champion Karen Hume (KNT) progressed to the semis in a 3-0 win over Susan Pynegar (NOT) and now meets another former World Masters Champion Jill Campion (MDX) who proved too skilful for Ireland International Maureen Duke. In the other half of the draw Lesley Sturgess (DYS) had to recover from two games down against Eunice Bond (SCO) to take her place in the semi final against Wales Champion Sian Johnson who edged past home player Tammy Bennett (SRY). This event had a mixture of some of the best players from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Women’s O55: Former South African player Karen Webb (BRK) won through to meet top seed Rose Bamber (AVN) after outplaying Bev Vatcher (DOR) in straight games. In the other half Fran Wallis (LCN) produced a powerful performance against Polly Woodward (CHS) and now meets former Open and National Champion Fiona McLean (SCO).
Women’s O50: Wins for Sarah Parr (BRK) over Alison Goy (NOT) earns her a semi final against Izzy Bramhall (NOT). A very close five game battle between Linda Pritchard (SPE) and Kath Gray (CBA) with some great squash from both ladies eventually went to Pritchard 3-2. Her reward is a semi final match with Sam Mueller (BUX) in the semi final.
Women’s O45: The seeding proved correct in this group with Karen Meakins Barbados proving her top seed status by beating Libby Montgomery (HFD) 3/0 meanwhile Rachel Calver (LEC) herself a former National Champion overcame Catherine Ruffle (KNT). In the bottom half Vix Smith (SRY) proved too strong for Michelle Baker (DOR) and an Open, National and European Champion Keeley Johnson (KNT) overpowered Claire Kedward (AVN).
Women’s O40: Natalie Lawrence (SOM) had a fantastic match that was competitive and showed some lovely squash skills. Her opponent Nicola Helwick (South Africa) pushed her all the way and eventually went down 2/3. Natalie now meets No. 1 seed Joanne Elgood of Sweden. Kate Bradshaw (CBE) produced a solid straight games win against Lissa Muncer (BRK) and will have a harder time against No. 2 seed Selina Harper (CBA).
Women’s O35: Sarah Campion (CHS) was a top class pro player and is still very, very good. She showed her skills here and gave Heather Joy (BUX) little chance. Emmeline Gale (SRY) has the toughest match of the quarter-finals and only narrowly beat Sophie Beake (BRK) 3/2. Stacey Gooding (WAL) looked comfortable in her 3/0 win over Mhairi Gritz from Scotland. Finally, Polly Roylance-Smith (LCN) ensured all the top 4 seeds meet in the final with her controlled win over Gemma Barber (DOR).
Men’s O75: Four time World Masters Champion Adrian Wright (YKS) survived a spirited fight back from James Dubois (SRY) to squeeze home in the fifth game, meanwhile another former World Champion (BRK) took his place in the semis with a win over Dave Hardern (NOT). The player to watch in the group however is former Zimbabwe International Guy Davies (DVN) who continued to impress with a premium win over Ken Reid (SCO). He now meets No. 2 seed and Masters founder Martin Pearse (NOR) who comfortably beat Bev Boag (HPH).
Men’s 70: Terry Belshaw (CBA) had to come back from a slow start but proved too accomplished for Larry Grover (HPH) and will meet former Open and Closed Champion Barry Featherstone (HPH) who had a tight match with Mike Mooney (WAL) surviving a 13-11 third game to win in four. No. 2 seed Ian Ross (SCO) progressed seamlessly to the semis and will meet Neil Nightingale (DYS) who beat Andrew Edmondson (LCN) who has been impressive in his first Masters season.
Men’s O65: Clive London (KNT) overwhelmed Simon Evenden (NHM) showing the class that won him two British Opens in the younger group. He now plays John Guyatt (WOC) who also proved too strong for former Open Champion Steve Jackson (SRY). In the bottom half Adrian Alderton (WAL) continued his fine run having beaten Scottish Champion Robin Ridley yesterday, the number 2 seed today beat Peter Culver (SRY) in a close 3/1. He will now play Masters Chairman Stuart Hardy (WLT) who beat Richard Kellagher (OFE) 3/1.
Men’s O60: Barbados star Mark Sealy showed his class taking out Andrew Hood (NOT) 3/1 while Allen Barwise (CBA) powered his way through to end Mark Taylor’s (AVN) fine run in straight games. In the other half Steve Barlow (BFD) after two superb five game wins could find no way past Dermot Hurford (SRY) – another Colets player going down in straight games. Nick Peel (KNT) continued his fine form but just came up short losing to Jon Parkes (WOC) in five competitive games. Two excellent semi finals in prospect.
Men’s O55: Top seed Yawar Abbas (DCL) a regular champion again showed his class with a 3/1 win over Ray Burke (YKS) in a hard hitting contest. Eamonn Price (HFD) did what he does best and ground out a tight match that swung both ways before Price upped the level to clinch the fifth. Nigel Stiles (SRY) was also involved in a tough five setter having to come back from 1/0 and 2/1 to eventually edge past Steve O’Neil (DOR) in five. Jon Foster (HPH) was 2 up against Darren Withey (BUX) when the latter pulled a muscle in his back and had to retire.
Men’s O50: American John Musto game showed his power game and took out Andy Cross (DCL) in four games of great hard hitting squash. He meets next John Simpson of Yorkshire who found his way past the myriad skills of David Youngs (NOR) 12-10 in the fourth game in a match that had a wonderful variety of shots. In the bottom half of that draw David Ayerst (IRE) had to recover from a spirited attack by Tim Clark (DCL) before getting home in four games and he will then face Neil Frankland, a Scotland International who had a battle royale against Stuart Hargreaves of Yorkshire before winning 14/12 in the fifth.
Men’s O45: Domagoj Spoljar of Croatia had an unfortunate walkover after Wayne Beglan (SRY) had beaten number 2 seed yesterday and will now meet the power house that is Ian Cox (NOR) who proved so strong for Jago Nardelli (HFD). Top seed Matt Holland (HPH) and Adam Waddington (SRY) are both Colets club players and this could have been the club championship final. Waddington using his great reach edged the first game before Holland settled into his rhythm and reeled off the next three. He now meets Ashley Bowling (OFE) who beat Richard Campbell (SCO) in straight games.
Men’s O40: Top seed Dave Barnett (NLD) is looking ominously good as he overpowered Paul Wallace (ESX) but will have more of a challenge against the many times regional champion Jamie Goodrich (NOR) who outplayed Nick Hargreaves (NOT) moving the ball around at great pace and efficiency. Julian Wollny of Germany showed his abilities to the full with a comprehensive straight games win over Steven Davies (BFD) and will now meet Middlesex’s Mick Biggs who has been playing superbly and beat No. 2 seed Ross Gore (OFE) 3/1 in a very controlled display. An excellent semi-final in prospect.
Men’s O35: Top seed Tim Vail (SSX) is a former Open Champion and recognised as one of the most talented players in the game. On his birthday he gave a large gallery and his opponent Lithemba Velleman of South Africa a master class. 3/0 to Vail. In the semi-final he will play former Circuit player Rory Pennell (ESX) who staged the comeback of the tournament against Jason Pike (WRK) 2/0 down, then 10/2 down in the fifth – and won 12/10! Unbelievable squash! Gary Hinton (HPH) forced Jason Varrie into making a number of unforced errors towards the end of this tight match and won 3/1. No. 2 Phil Nightingale (SRY) had total control in the final quarter final of the day beating Nicholas Wood of Ireland 3/0. All top 4 seeds meet in the semi-finals.
Stuart Hardy, Chairman