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British Masters top seeds progress to last eight

Stuart Hardy reports

All of the top seeds were in action on day two of the AJ Bell British National Masters Championships at Nottingham Squash Rackets Club.

In the Men’s 75s, last year’s England captain, Kent’s Nigel Belle was knocked out by Derbyshire’s John Robertson whilst Durham’s Thomas Elves got the better of Hampshire’s Bev Boag.

Upsets were rife in the Men’s 70s as three 5/8 seeds were eliminated. Yorkshire’s Martin Day was beaten by Cheshire’s Jonathan Firth, local star David Hardern defeated Kent’s Robert Smith and England and Somerset player Terry Norman was ousted by Northumberland’s John Smith in five tight games.

There was no such surprises in the Men’s 65s as the top eight seeds all progressed. It wasn’t smooth sailing though for Middlesex’s Stuart Hardy and Dorset’s John Pitt who both had to win in five against Nottinghamshire’s John Forrester and Cornwall’s David Matthews respectively.

Elsewhere, there was comfortable victories for top seeds Mark Cowley of Middlesex and Steve Johnson of Lancashire.

The match of the Men’s 60s was cut short as Avon’s Mark Taylor had to withdraw with a torn hamstring in the fifth game against George Kousseff of Hampshire. Elsewhere, all the main seeds progressed apart from Somerset’s Nick Gollaglee who was defeated in five by Steve McBride of Warwickshire who now meets Durham and Cleveland’s Neil Harrison.

In the Men’s 55s, the top seeds progressed as Hampshire’s Jon Foster and Herefordshire’s Eamonn Price both won in style. Middlesex’s Alex Betts and Northumberland’s Steve Calvert will now face off in an eagerly anticipated contest for a place in the semi-finals.

Serial champion and top seed Yawar Abbas of Durham and Cleveland progressed to the quarter-finals in the Men’s 50s meaning a final with Northamptonshire’s former champion David Youngs is still on the cards.

However, all the top seeds are still in the hat with Andy Murray of Warwickshire facing Durham and Cleveland’s Andy Cross whilst Steve McLoughlin of Hampshire and Buckinghamshire’s Phil Yerby due to face off in the other quarter-final.

Number 1 seed Nick Wall of Yorkshire remains strong favourite in the Men’s 45s and will face Ireland’s Nick Staunton, who survived five games with Cornwall’s Matt Harford. Fellow Yorkshireman Matt Stephenson progressed in five over Cambridgeshire’s James Powley, whilst defending champion Paul Boyle of Buckinghamshire also got through unscathed.

Leicestershire’s Over 40s number one seed Darren Lewis won in four games over Surrey’s James Greenhead. Meanwhile, Berkshire’s Tim Burrell beat Worcestershire’s Luke Rawlins in five and Nottingham’s own Nick Hargreaves proved a popular victor over Nick Freer of Middlesex.

Elsewhere, a marathon 67 minute match saw Scotland’s number one Stuart Ayton defeat Cornwall’s Philip Thomas.

Top seed Sam Miller has some tough opposition in the 35s. Surrey stars Phil Nightingale and Phil Rushworth are both in the line-up as is Norfolk’s Jamie Goodrich.

The women’s draw also commenced today with Scotland’s Eunice Bond removing Cheshire’s Jane Law in the 60s, whilst in the 50s Dorset’s Bev Vatcher and Sharnine Coleman progressed.

In the women’s 45s, Zoe Shardlow of Sussex booked a match with top seed Rachel Woodward of Nottinghamshire. Meanwhile, fellow Notts player Fiona Oliver pulled off an upset against Wales’ Rhiannon Davies. Alex King of Essex and Linda Pritchard of Shropshire are also through to the quarter-finals.

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