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Top seeds advance to AJ Bell British National quarter-finals in Nottingham

Tom Pilcher reports

The opening day of main draw action at the AJ Bell British National Championships in Nottingham saw top seeds Joel Makin and Sarah-Jane Perry book their place in the men’s and women’s quarter-finals whilst Scotland No.1 Greg Lobban fell to defeat at the hands of Englishman George Parker.

In the first upset of the day, Parker took nearly an hour to stun [5/8] Greg Lobban 3-2 (6-11, 11-6, 11-4, 1-11, 11-8) to set up a date with Daryl Selby on Valentine’s Day.

Then in the evening session, England’s Richie Fallows got the better of compatriot and 5/8 seed Tom Richards 3-0: 12-10, 11-6, 11-3 in 42 minutes.

His prize is a last-eight clash with World No.20 Adrian Waller, a 3-0 victor over fellow Englishman Nathan Lake.

Elsewhere at Nottingham Squash Rackets Club, World No.25 and 3/4 seed Selby was awarded a 3-0 victory against qualifier Olli Pett, whose trickshot caught Selby in the eye at 2-1 in the first game, resulting in Selby being ushered off for medical attention.

Women’s top seed Perry made light work of qualifier Kiera Marshall - who was making her Nationals debut - racing to a straight games victory in just 19 minutes.

“I knew she'd be nervous, I remember my first Nationals,” said Perry after her 11-4, 11-3, 11-3 victory.

“She played well, but I haven't played on this court and we have a tough schedule coming up so I need to get as sharp and as efficient as possible.”

Men’s top seed Joel Makin – the sole Welsh player in either draw after defending women’s champion Tesni Evans withdrew – brought his savvy best to the court as he overcame a third game scare to beat 16-year-old English talent Sam Todd 3-1: 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-2.

“Sam was attacking freely and hitting some good winners, so I’m happy to get through that one,” said Makin, the World No.11.

“If I play like I can, I should get through the rounds, so I don't really think about being top seed.”

Makin’s Friday opponent will be Scottish 5/8 seed Alan Clyne, who kept his country’s flag flying with a comfortable 3-0 defeat of qualifier Nick Wall.

Second seed and four-time champion Alison Waters survived a second-game blip against qualifier Lily Taylor to win 3-1 (11-1, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4) while men’s second seed, defending champion James Willstrop, set up a quarter-final with World No.21 Declan James after his 3-0 defeat of qualifier Charlie Lee.

Willstrop, a three-time British National champion said:

“I felt good on there, I may need to step it up against the big guns but I'm pleased to be winning and healthy.”

Nottingham 5/8 seed Declan James raced out the blocks against Patrick Rooney but had to face two opening game balls en route to a 3-0 triumph (13-11, 11-8, 11-5).

Women’s 5/8 seed Julianne Courtice survived a gripping first encounter of the day against fellow Englishwoman Rachael Chadwick 3-1 (12-10, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7) to face Perry on Friday.

In the first match of the evening session - another all-English duel - [5/8] Jasmine Hutton lost the second game to qualifier Alice Green but prevailed 3-1 (11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6) to set up a battle with Waters.

Elsewhere [3/4] Millie Tomlinson saw off Kace Bartley 11-6, 11-4, 11-8 in 28 minutes to set up a quarter-final clash with [5/8] Lucy Turmel, who beat qualifier Alicia Mead 3-0, while [3/4] Victoria Lust was a late 3-1 winner over Scotland’s Alison Thomson to next face [5/8] Emily Whitlock, a 3-0 victor over Anna Kimberley.

Watch live action from the quarter-finals from 12pm on englandsquash.tv (requires free England Squash website account). For tickets visit iSQUASHstore.com. Follow the coverage on the official website and Twitter.