Masters champions crowned at The Park
Stuart Hardy reports
Day five of the British National Championships Masters saw an array of senior winners crowned across 17 age categories in Nottingham.
It has all been leading up to this. Some tired and in some cases very tired bodies. But some of the best Masters Squash players in the country do battle in the Finals for the accolade of being crowned National champion.
Rebecca Czuczman (KNT) from Thanet SC has a pedigree in this event winning 50s and 60s titles before. This one was her sixth as she overpowered Sheelagh Shane-Carter (LEC) in straight games to take the Women’s 65 title. Bett Dryhurst (WRC) has a legendary record and she won her 8th National title here to go with 9 British Opens. She took the W70s with a clinical win over June Hill (YKS)
The Women’s 60s has been a classic event sprinkled with World, British Open and National Champions. The final between Karen Hume (KNT) the 2016 World Champion and Jill Campion (MDX) the 2018 World Champion. The first two games were close and shared, it was the Kent player who stuck in and played the big points the best to take a 3/1 win. Surprisingly, her first National title.
The thrills of previous encounters between Mandy Akin (KNT) and Fiona McLean (SCO) did not quite occur in the W55 final as Akin played beautifully to go two up and almost take the third before a spirited fight back by McLean edged the third 17/15. This is a calmer and more controlled Kent woman, however, and she reasserted herself to take the fourth. Her seventh National title.
The W45s had a lot of local support and a packed gallery was there for Rachel Woodward (NOT) and Rachel Calver (LEC). Calver took the first and very nearly the second, losing 14/12. But after that the flow of the match changed and the Nottingham woman took charge. 3/1 to her, and a first National title.
Yorkshire star Andrea Santamaria is another with a top class record and she again showed her class with a polished performance to take the win over Nikki Fowler (CHS) and the W50 crown.
Nicky Green (NOR) was a junior star and now coaches. Her skills have not diminished and her W40 semi final win over the top seed Keeley Johnson underlined her ability. Against Natalie Lawrence (WKS) she held her nerve to win a closely contested 3/1.
Former World top 20 player Lauren Briggs (ESX) is the outstanding player in the Women’s over 35s and for the last few years there has been no one to trouble her. Ria Kennerley (SFD) plays a very good game and deserved her place in the final but had no answer to Brigg’s speed and pace. 3/0 to the Essex player.
The inspirational over Men’s 80s players concluded their round robin event today.
There have been a series of five game matches and some excellent squash played. The current World 80s Champion Lance Kinder (HPH) came second and Canadian Scot Vincent Taylor, unbeaten, took the title.
The M75s pitted to regular rivals against each other. Both from Yorkshire, Mike Clemson has been ahead recently, but Adrian Wright has not won four World Championships by not being determined. He had the upper hand today and won through in four for another title.
The Men’s over 70s also renewed an old rivalry. Phil Ayton (SSX) was National Champion in 1975 and England no. 1. Since then he has won a host of Masters events. Howard ‘Merlin’ Cherlin (MDX) is one of the most talented shot makers around and is already British Open Champion. Their final was cut and thrust with one gaining the lead then being pulled back. In the end, Cherlin managed to edge ahead and clinch the fifth. His third National title. A great match full of skill.
The Over 65s had the two best players in the group reach the final after an adventurous draw that saw its fair share of upsets. Stephen Johnson (LNC) won the 60s two years ago and he was on top form today as he never let Geoff Redfern (WKS) in the match. A clinical display by Johnson and the title was his, 3/0.
Johnson’s County colleague Allen Barwise the defending Champion was not going to let his 2018 M60 National title go easily. After his superb performance yesterday to oust the top seed he pushed the no. 2 seed, Jon Evans (WAL) all the way. In a match full of quality Evans came through in four hard contested games to add to his 55s title of five years ago.
Mark Woodliffe (GLR) is regarded as one of the great Masters players. He has a relaxed style that is deadly efficient. Greg Loach (DBY) had played exceptionally to reach the final, as he had last year, but again, Woodliffe was just too good as he took the M55 title.
Meanwhile in the over 50s Phil Yerby (BUX) took on home favourite Matthew Oxley (NOT) in front of a packed gallery. Oxley is an immensely powerful hitter and Yerby a fantastic mover. They played a wonderful match that Yerby salvaged from 1/2 down to finish the stronger in the fifth.
The Men’s 45s was one of those matches both deserved to win. Great squash played flat out and the result in doubt to the end. Paul Boyle ( BUX) edged home against England team mate Jonathan Gallagher (DVN) the Leicester pro,winning in five.
The top two seeds contested the over 40 final with Jamie Goodrich (NOR) playing down an age group. Matt Marshall (BUX) is a talented shot maker, though, and Goodrich the defending Champion was not able to use his fitness to best use. Marshall found the winners and forced errors and ran out the winner in five.
The Blue Riband event, the Men’s 35s saw the return of one of Nottingham’s favourite sons. Peter Marshall, former World no. 2, a former three time National Champion at the open group, and now 47. Still playing superb squash and using his signature double handed style. Phil Nightingale, the Surrey professional was good enough to beat everyone else but had no answer to Marshall. Some fantastic squash but it was all Marshall. 3/0 and another title.
It was a marvellous week of Masters Squash at Nottingham Squash Club. There were special thanks to the Sponsors AJ Bell, the Club and all the staff, the referees and Paul Millington, the President of England Squash who assisted in the presentations.
A special thanks went to Mrs. Jane Bell for all her tournament assistance, but the main Thank You went to England Squash Masters Event Manager Brian Brock who delivered a superb National Championships.
British Nationals 2019 results : Masters finals
M35:  Peter Marshall 3-0 [3/4] Phil Nightingale 11-4, 11-4, 11-5 (39m)
M40:  Matt Marshall 3-2 Jamie Goodrich 8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 2-11, 11-5 (42m)
M45: [3/4] Paul Boyle 3-2 [5/8] Jonathan Gallacher 14-12, 5-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6 (55m)
M50: [5/8] Phil Yerby 3-2 [5/8] Matthew Oxley 5-11, 12-10, 7-11, 11-3, 11-6 (44m)
M55:  Mark Woodliffe 3-0 [5/8] Greg Loach 11-4, 11-3, 11-1 (19m)
M60:  Jon Evans 3-1 [3/4] Allen Barwise 15-5, 13-15, 15-10, 15-8 (36m)
M65:  Stephen Johnson 3-0  Geoff Redfern 15-3, 15-6, 15-8 (19m)
M70: [3/4] Howard Cherlin 3-2 [5/8] Phil Ayton 6-15, 15-13, 10-15, 15-12, 15-11 (45m)
M75:  Adrian Wright 3-1  Mike Clemson 15-12, 9-15, 15-5, 15-12 (35m)
M80: 1st [3/4] Vincent Taylor, 2nd  Lance Kinder round robin
W35:  Lauren Briggs 3-0  Ria Kennerley 11-3, 11-1, 11-5 (17m)
W40: [5/8] Nicky Green 3-1 [3/4] Natalie Townsend 14-12, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9 (33m)
W45:  Rachel Woodward 3-1  Rachel Calver 9-11, 14-12, 11-7, 11-5 (24m)
W50:  Andrea Santamaria 3-0  Nikki Fowler 15-12, 15-9, 15-13 (24m)
W55:  Mandy Akin 3-1  Fiona McLean 15-11, 15-10, 15-17, 15-9 (37m)
W60: [3/4] Karen Hume 3-1  Jill Campion 17-15, 11-15, 15-13, 15-9 (41m)
W65: 1st Rebecca Czuczman, 2nd Bett Dryhurst round robin
W70: 1st Bett Dryhurst, 2nd June Hill