Masters Day Three : Semi-finalists decided

The British Open Masters continued at Solihull Arden and West Warwickshire as most of the events reached the semi-final stage.

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Day Three – Friday 7th June

Day 3 and the heat rises at Solihull Arden for the British Open Masters. All the seeds are in action and the going is getting tougher. Some great Masters Squash from the Men and Women in all the age groups competing for a place in the semi finals.

Day Three Results & Semi-Final lineups

Chairman’s Report

Women’s Over 70: Multiple World Champion Pauline Douglas of Scotland is the red hot favourite here and opened her account with a straight games win over Susan Wastie. Second seed Catherine Woodhart outlasted Maureen Carroll of Scotland over four good games. The pool continues tomorrow.

Women’s Over 65: Former World and British Champion of Wales is top seed here and was too good for Eunice Bond of Scotland and will now meet English International Lesley Sturgess who beat Maureen Duke of Ireland in straight games. Lynne Davies and Sian Johnson both of Wales have played each other and in teams together numerous times and of late it is Lynne who has held the upper hand. So it was here with a 3-1 win. She will meet Karen Hume, another former World Masters Champion, who beat Julie-Ann Pegram 3-0.

Women’s Over 60: Being played in a round robin of five Mandy Akin, the World Champion, is the favourite although Netherlands Bea Spitse has always run her close. Bea beat England International Tamsin Bennett in four competitive games,11-9 in the fourth, and Akin beat Polly Woodward, her England Captain, in straight games. In an incredibly tight match Sari Niemisto of Finland recorded an 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 win over Bea Spitse with some great squash being played by both women. In another pool match Tamsin Bennett gained some revenge for an earlier defeat by Polly Woodward and after sharing the first two games hinged on a 12-10 third game that went to Bennett and she went on from that to win the fourth.

Women’s Over 55: Only a small draw in this event headed by Wales Champion Helen Barnard. She had a bye today and will face Brynn Jafry of the USA who proved to be too good for Sue Smith. In the other half Marja Vainio of Finland comfortably Deborah Rogers 3-0 and will face second seed Izzy Bramhall who went through in straight games against Kath Gray.

Women’s Over 50: Former Champion Rachel Calver is the favourite here and she eased through in four games against Jane Armstrong. She will now face Debbie Locke who was too good today for Sarah Parr, herself a former National Champion. Current National Champion Louisa Dalwood was too powerful for Libby Montgomery and second seed Chrstine McMullen won a vital first game 14-12 against Kate Smith who then took the second but faded as McMullen won 3-1.

Women’s Over 45: Catherine Ruffle is defending champion and top seed here and started impressively with a straight games win over the talented Irish woman Saoirse O’Sullivan. In the semi final she will play Katy Temple of Scotland who was too good for Natalie Townsend winning 3-0. In the other half 3/4 seed Kate Bradshaw was impressive in her match against Kate Fuller and in her semi final will face Joannah Yue-Hitch of Singapore who after sharing the first two games with Caroline Hazelwood powered through to take the match 3-1.

Women’s Over 40: Selina Harper had a tough match against Natalie Lawrence which ended in the former’s favour 12-10 in the fourth after some great hitting and athleticism from both players. Natalie Davenport-Husdan, the second seed, had a great contest with Ria Gelderblom taking the first two games 13-11, 12-10 before Ria struck back in the third. But she could not maintain it and the second seed clinched the match in four.

Women’s Over 35: Top seed Leonie Holt got her campaign off to a solid start beating Keeley Peacock in straight games while second seed Kirsty West recorded exactly the same score over Gemma Barber. West then continued her fine run with a three game win over England player Michelle Knight.

Men’s Over 80: The elder statesmen of the game, the men’s over 80s started today and National Champion Anthony Clifford again showed good mobility and shots beating Nigel Belle in straight games. Meanwhile Leo Kingston overcame Ken Reid of Scotland after sharing the first two games and re-taking the third 12-10 he just failed to convert the fourth before Kingston won in five.

Men’s Over 75: The big guns entered the fray today and blasted through the draw. Defending champion Ian Ross of Scotland won through 3-0 as did former champion and second seed Barry Featherstone. They were soon joined by National Champion Larry Grover. The best of the quarters was with Wales No 1 Stephen Evans who squeezed home against former World Masters Champion Chris Ansell in five.

Men’s Over 70: Some normality was restored to this group as the seeded players reasserted themselves. Stuart Hardy, the top seed, powered through Robert Houldsworth although John Hithersay, the 3/4 seed, had a struggle with Solihull player Richard Lowe getting through 11-9 in the fourth. England star Geoff Redfern ended Keith Ragg’s run and second seed former champion Ian Graham edged three tight games against Andrew Edmondson.

Men’s Over 65: National Champion Allen Barwise is looking in menacing form as he again powered through in straight games, this time against Kevin Connors. In the quarters he will meet American star Bruce Gordon who removed Jonathan Potter in four. In the other half Nick Gollaglee found his high risk game working as he sneaked home 11-8, 13-11, 13-11 against Scottish Champion Peter Shivas. In another upset Robert Warner continued his fine run and removed second seed and England Captain Tom Burton in four games.

Men’s Over 60: Four matches and three of them incredibly tight and hard fought. Top seed Freddie Johnson was pushed all the way by New Zealander Tony Griffin and eventually emerged a winner in five while Darren Withey had an incredible tussle with Ray Burke recovering from two games down to get through in five. In the other half Alex Betts found himself 2-1 down to previous champion John Parkes but somehow saved the fourth 12-10 before taking the fifth and the match. A slightly more routine win for second seed Eamonn Price who controlled the power of Steve Calvert beautifully and crafted a 3-1 win.

Men’s Over 55: John Musto is a several time USA Champion and when he visits the UK is usually successful. He had a competitive match with England star Andrew Eilfield and had to rely on his resilience to come back from 2-1 down to clinch it in five. Steve McLoughlin won this title last year and is renown for his fitness but Wales No 1 Steve Evans outlasted him in this gruelling encounter winning in four. Gavin Roger-Lund continued his dominant form against Adrian Leeson and Steve Dodridge who seems to have two modes devastating or injured continued to devastate removing another seed Sam Hanbury in straight games.

Men’s Over 50: In an all Ireland battle David Ayerst, the top seed, took on former National Champion Nick Staunton. Staunton continually amazes with the quality of some of his squash and although he always seems knackered he keeps on producing the goods. Against the form he won a contentious match 3-1 to progress to the semis. He will there meet England star Matt Stephenson who after a 19-17 first game outlasted Chris Lynam. In the other half the other Staunton, Rob, was too solid and controlled for Wayne Beglan who must have been feeling some effects of his battle of yesterday but the Irishman was in great form to dispose of him in straight games. Rob will meet fellow Ireland International Dara O’Flynn after he recorded a superb 11-9, 11-9, 11-9 win over former champion and England Captain Paul Boyle.

Men’s Over 45: Double British Open Champion Matt Holland is the player to beat in this age group and he was in imperious form as he despatched Matt Whitehead in straight games. It will be an interesting semi final as Armin Hameed of Germany beat Paul Warner fairly convincingly to underline his form and could challenge the champion. In the other half Alistair Coker had too much for James Greenhead today and just stayed ahead in all three games. Coker will meet Mick Biggs as the tall Middlesex left hander once again managed to get past Tim Burrell in five hard and competitive games.

Men’s Over 40: Phil Rushworth, the Wimbledon pro, oozes class on the squash court playing beautifully constructed rallies. Steven Davies is a fine player and an England International but had no answer to the problems that Rushworth posed, 3-0 to the Surrey man. 3/4 seed Jason Varrie beat Neil Cross 3-1 in a competitive match and will now face Rushworth. In the other half the big German Julian Wollny who hits a ball harder than anyone I’ve seen recently unfortunately retired with a leg injury in the fifth game of a fantastic contest with Ross Kneller that had pace, power and shot making in abundance. Kneller now has to face former National Champion Tim Richards who came from 2/1 down to outlast Ross Gore in a very good contest. 3/2 to Richards is 48 minutes.

Men’s Over 35: Top seed and current British Open Champion James Snell put together another masterful display as he went to work on Gordon Harpur who is no slouch himself but it was 3-0 to Snell in just over half an hour. He will meet Jamie Douglas in the semi final after he proved too strong for Ryan Atherton who had done his giant killing the day before. National finalist Chris Hall, the Warwickshire pro, produced a fantastic display of all court squash to overcome the spirited challenge of Gurbhaj Kahlon. No 2 seed Tim Vail is a former champion and although out of the age group age wise is more than a match for virtually every 35 player. He again showed his silky smooth skills controlling a powerful opponent and taking out John Welton in three close games. The Hall/Vail match is eagerly anticipated.

So a terrific day of squash with wall to wall action and some superb skills, some triumph and heartbreak but the stage is set for some fantastic semi final match ups tomorrow. Spectators are welcome at Solihull Arden SC and West Warwickshire Sports Complex.

Stuart Hardy, Chairman