Masters 2019

Karakal British Open Masters 2019

Day FIVE : the Finals

And so, it all came to the Finals. All the shots, games and matches to get to the point where seventeen Masters Squash players would be crowned British Open Champions.

The Women’s 70s featured defending Champion Ann Manley of Avon and Averil Murphy of Essex. Both women have a score of titles between them through the age groups, but Manley has been dominant in recent years. And so it proved as she emerged the stronger winning 3/0. The Women’s 60s also had a stellar field with three World Champions in the draw. Current World Champion Jill Campion (MDX) had to play former Champion Pauline Douglas of Scotland and in a game that swung from one to the other it was Campion playing her focussed game that won through 3/1.

Mandy Akin (KNT) again was the W55 defending Champion and her arch-rival Fiona McLean of Scotland was absent this year. Hilary Kenyon (CHS) took her chance to reach the final but Akin’s athleticism and power were decisive. 3/0 to her.

Andrea Santamaria (YKS) has proved to be the best of British and proved to be so again. Her W50 final opponent was no. 2 seed Helen Barnard the Wales No. 1 but as at the Internationals recently the English player had the edge and took the title with a four-game win here.

Irish No. 1 Orla O’Docherty was top W45 seed and favourite but was two games down to England No. 1 Rachel Calver (LEC). Calver, a former National Champion could not convert the third game, however, losing it 9/11 and then the next two. A first British Open for O’Docherty.

Karen Schultz of South Africa was playing her first British Open and she made it a memorable visit by winning the W40 title. Vix Smith of Surrey gave her a battle, however, and after sharing the first two games a crucial third went to Schultz and she pushed on to take the fourth and the win.

Rachel Grinham is something of a British Open legend having won the Women’s title four times on the professional tour. Still competing professionally she made this her first Masters event and almost inevitably added another British Open title to her collection. In the final she beat England 35s player Natalie Townsend (WKS) who competed well but went down 3/0.

To the Men.

The Elder Statesmen of Squash, the Men’s over 80s are certainly inspirational and two very good exponents of the game were in the final here. Michael Gough of the USA was an over 75 World Champion while Lance Kinder (HPS) is the current World Masters Champion. The younger man proved the stronger here, though and the American won another British Open to go with his U.S. Open won earlier this year.

Two Yorkshiremen played the final of the 75s and they have played each other many times in Finals with the honours about even. Four-time World Champion Adrian Wright went two games up and looked to be heading for victory, but Mike Clemson, a diminutive bundle of energy had other ideas and powered back to win the next three games.

Howard ‘Merlin’ Cherlin (MDX) is the most elegant of shot makers and can sometimes be almost unplayable. Other times he can make too many errors but today the defending M70 Champion was on his ‘A’ game and Ian Ross the Scotland No. 1 and European Champion had few chances apart from a close second game. A second British Open for Merlin.

In the 65s Steve Johnson (LNH) is ranked as the best over 65 player in the world and so he proved here defeating Tournament Director Stuart Hardy (MDX) 3/0 after a close first game. The match was stopped in the third for ten minutes after Johnson fell into a wall after being (rarely) on the wrong end of a rally, but he recovered to close out the match.

After removing two top four seeds, nothing seemed beyond Phil Wakefield (YKS) in the 60s, but National Champion and Wales No. 1 Jon Evans the No. 2 seed decided to restore some order to things. He was too fast and mobile for the Pontefract man, winning 3/0.

In a very competitive M55 age group Mark Woodliffe (GLS) has seven British Opens, and has won the last three in this group. Eammon Price (HFD) has also won British Opens and was hoping to end that run. But Woodliffe was just too strong and controlled and took the title with some beautiful squash in straight games. Coincidentally, Mark’s father John also won the over 55 title back in 1996.

American Champion John Musto probably had the hardest week of any player at Hull. In the Men’s 50s he had five matches and accounted for former Champions Andy Cross and Yawar Abbas, German Champion Predi Fritsche and finally National Champion Phil Yerby (BUX) in five games. And all those matches were close, full powered battles. Well done to him!

The 45s had some upsets as Jon Gliddon (DVN) put out the relentless top seeded Jamie Goodrich in the semis to earn a final with National Champion Paul Boyle (BUX), the second seed. Boyle went two games up and even had a match point in the third, but Gliddon’s renowned power game saw him come through to clinch the title in five closely contested games. A first title for the England Squash Masters Chairman.

The very talented James Bowden (LEC) was hot favourite for the Men’s 40s title and he literally blew away the opposition this week. In the final he met a very strong player in Mick Biggs (MDX) who had played very well to reach the final but he had no answer to Bowden’s speed and range of shot.

Phil Nightingale the Surrey professional has lost the last two British Open over 35 Finals but he was not going to let that happen again here. A tall man, he dominated the court and out-powered the opposition with accurate and strong hitting. Paul Stroud (LEC) had made the final after a great semi-final five-game win, but had no answer to Nightingale’s game today. A very solid straight games win and first British Open for Nightingale.

At the presentation, thanks were made to the sponsors the Allam family and Karakal. And also to Hull University for all their help in hosting us. The Referees were thanked for their sterling work all week and most importantly the Event Manager for England Squash Masters, Brian Brock.

The Presentations were made by Andrew Shelley the CEO of the World Squash Federation.

Stuart Hardy, Tournament Director

Day FOUR Report : Finalists decided

The Allam British Open Karakal Masters Championship 2019 continued into Day 4, Semi Finals day. Masters Squash players, among the best in their age groups in the world competed for the honour of playing in a British Open Final.

The senior women are the over W70s group and Avon’s Ann Manley is dominant at present. She beat June Hill (YKS) and will now meet Averil Murphy ((ESX) who overcame Bett Dryhurst (WOC). These women have literally won everything in Squash! The Women’s 60s also have World Masters Champions and two will meet in the final as Jill Campion (MDX) beat Sian Johnson the Wales No. 1 to set up a meeting with Scot Pauline Douglas who came through against Karen Hume (KNT) 3/1.

There were two straight games wins in the W55s for the top two seeds as Mandy Akin (KNT) beat Pippa Green (AVN) and Hilary Kenyon (CHS) beat the speedy Sarah Howlett (CBE).

There was nearly an upset in the W50s as top seed Andrea Santamaria (YKS) was taken to five games by former National Champion Rachel Woolford (WKS) while 2 seed Helen Barnard, the Wales No. 1 earned her place by defeating Izzy Bramhall (NOT) in four.

Orla O’Docherty the Ireland No. 1 was made to work hard as Louisa Dalwood (HFD) pushed her all the way in the W45s. The Ireland star won 14/12 in the fourth. Meanwhile former Champion Rachel Calver (LEC) won through to the final with a 3/1 win over Isabelle Tweedle (SRY).

South African star Karen Schultz is looking good and removed Sweden’s Joanne Elgood 3/0 in the Women’s 40s. She will play England player Vix Smith (SRY) who removed Nicky Green (NOR) in straight games. Also looking awesome is former World No. 1 Rachel Grinham of Australia as she removed England’s Reka Gay with something to spare. In the W35 final she will play England player Natalie Townsend (WKS) who beat Gemma Barber of Dorset in a close four games.

The Elder Statesmen of the Game – the Men’s over 80s. Looking very accomplished former over-75 World Champion Michael Gough of the USA beat Australian John Pritchard to claim a final spot where he will face current 80s World Champion Lance Kinder (HPS) who beat his good friend and a former Champion John Woodliffe. (GLS).

The 75s will see a regular match-up of Yorkshire players Mike Clemson and Adrian Wright who overcame Leo Kingston (LNH) and Ken Johnson (DCL) respectively. A very even final.

Howard ‘Merlin’ Cherlin (MDX) is currently Open and National M70 Champion but had to work hard to beat the powerful and determined Barry Featherstone (HPS)in five. He will play Scotland No. 1 and European Champion Ian Ross who defeated England Captain Larry Grover of Guernsey in four well contested games.

National M65 Champion Steve Johnson (LNH) is looking very good and he removed former Open Champion Nick Drysdale (AVN) 3/0. In the other half Terry Belshaw of Cumbria could not repeat his heroics when he removed No. 2 seed Geoff Redfern and fell in straight games to new man in the age group and 3 seed Stuart Hardy (MDX).

The dark horse of the 60s Phil Wakefield (YKS) continued to impress. After removing the Mexican top seed he beat England player Gordon McManus (KNT) and will face No. 2 seed Jon Evans the Wales No. 1 and National Champion in the final.

Top seed Mark Woodliffe oozed class as he disposed of the all action Alex Betts (MDX) in the 55s and will meet former Champion Eammon Price (HFD) who outclassed the powerful Swedish No. 2 seed Jonas Ulvsback.

National Over-50 Champion Phil Yerby (BUX) continues to deliver and he edged home in five against the athletic Steve McLoughlin (HPS). The other semi saw John Musto of the USA and Predi Fritsche of Germany play one of the great Masters matches with an incredible pace of play and intensity. It was the American who edged home 12/10 in the fourth.

Masters Chairman Jon Gliddon (DVN) surprised himself with his win over Jamie Goodrich (NOR) the No. 1 seed in the Men’s 45s but his relentless power game got him through as Goodrich was forced into errors. He will meet the accomplished Paul Boyle (BUX) who playing beautiful squash removed the dangerous Jon Gallagher (DVN).

Meanwhile James Bowden (LEC) demonstrated why he is the top seed in the 40s as he clinically removed Chris Gillespie (DCL) 3/0 to progress to the final where he will meet Mick Biggs (MDX) who played a superb match to remove Tim Burrell (BRK) who yesterday beat the second seed in an epic match. Surrey Pro Phil Nightingale had to spend 50 minutes breaking down the talented Matt Bolt the Norf

olk County Champion to reach another over 35 Open final where he will play second seeded Paul Stroud, a very accomplished shot maker. He outlasted Tom Elgood (GLS) in five games and the final should be an interesting clash of styles.

The Masters Finals start from 10.30am on Sunday morning at Hull University and spectators are welcome.

Stuart Hardy, Tournament Director

Day THREE Report:  Quarter Finals day.

Things really heated up with clashes between the established, seeded players in all the events.

The Women’s events, after some early rounds took off in earnest and three World Masters Champions took their places in the last four. Karen Hume (KNT) had to work hard to overcome Lesley Sturgess (DBY) 15/13 in the fifth and now meets the South African Scot, Pauline Douglas in one semi-final while the other World Champion Jill Campion(MDX) will meet the talented Wales No. 1 Sian Johnson.

Defending Champion Mandy Akin (KNT) looks favourite in the 55s and now plays Pippa Green (AVN) who won the battle of the doctors beating Surrey’s Tammy Bennett. In the other half, Sarah Howlett earned her place in the last four with a win over Julie Multamaki of Canada and will play Hilary Kenyon (CHS).

In the 50s the semis will feature top seed Andrea Santamaria (YKS) who ended Karen Webb of Zimbabwe’s run and former National Champion Rachel Woodford (WKS). Meanwhile in the other semi Rackethon Champion Izzy Bramhall (NOT) takes on Wales No. 1 Helen Barnard. The 45s had a win for Louisa Dalwood over Austria’s Eva Gallagher and meets Irish No. 1 Orla O’Doherty who looks in great form. The other semi will have Isabelle Tweedle (SRY) take on Rachel Calver (LEC) the No. 2 seed.

South African star Karen Schultz is top seed in the 40s and will play the elegant Joanne Elgood of Sweden in one semi while the other is an all-England match between Vix Smith (SRY) and Nicky Green (NOR). Former World Open Champion and World No. 1 Rachel Grinham of Australia is inevitably top seed in the Women’s 35s and she faces England player Reka Gay (CBE) in one semi while Gemma Barber (DOR) had a good win over Elaine Radcliffe (SPE) to book a semi-final with second seed Natalie Townsend (WKS).

To the Men’s …

John Pritchard of Australia put out Pat Kirton (SRY) in the over 80s and now faces a former World Champion in Michael Gough of the USA. In a more parochial match, current World Champion Lance Kinder (HPS) plays his close friend and former World Champion John Woodliffe(GLS) in the other half. Local man Mike Clemson (YKS) will play Leo Kingston (LNH) in one 75 semi while four times World Masters Champion Adrian Wright (YKS) plays Ken Johnson of Durham.

The top four seeds in the Men’s 70s progressed to the last four with the closest match being England Captain Larry Grover of Guernsey winning in five against Aubrey Waddy. He now meets Ian Ross of Scotland while defending Champion Howard Cherlin (MDX)takes on former Champion Barry Featherstone (HPS).

Seeds fell in the 65s as Nick Drysdale (AVN) beat defending Champion and four seed Ian Holmes. He now plays National Champion and No. 1 seed Steve Johnson (LNH) who has moved through the draw untroubled. In the other half No. 2 seed Geoff Redfern (WKS) fell to the wily Cumbrian Terry Belshaw and he will meet Stuart Hardy (MDX) who ended Paul Readers giant killing run with a five-game win.

And the same in the 60s as top seed Juan Mendez of Mexico went two up then lost in five to Phil Wakefield (YKS). He now meets Kent star Gordon McManus. England No. 1 Jeremy Goulding has rarely lost this season but in a real upset Simon Evenden (NHT) held his nerve to win 16/14 in the fourth to set up a semi with National Champion Jon Evans of Wales.

In the Men’s 55s Champion of the last three years Mark Woodliffe (GLS) moved through ominously and will meet Alex Betts (MDX) who stunned Darren Withey 3/0. Eammon Price (HFD) outlasted David Gray (CMB) and No. 2 seed Jonas Ulvsback of Sweden had a battle of the left handers with Ray Burke MBE of Lancashire edging home in five.

The 50s is a very high-class draw. National Champion Phil Yerby beat Rick Weatherall (BRK) and now faces the athletic Steve McLoughlin (HPS). In the other half American No.1 John Musto ousted no. 2 seed Yawar Abbas (DCL) in a very high calibre match and now meets German Predi Fritsche who beat the very talented Dave Youngs (NOR) in five entertaining games.

The Men’s 45s in contrast to some events has gone to form and Jamie Goodrich (NOR) will try and tame the powerful Jonathan Gliddon (DVN) while Devon colleague Jonathan Gallagher takes on Paul Boyle (BUX).

The 40s had No. 1 seed James Bowden (LEC) ease through to meet Chis Gillespie (DCL) who beat Scotland star Stuart Ayton in a long hard match. But in the other half there were two all action five game matches with Mick Biggs (MDX) squeezing past Masambo Selisho (CHS) and even tighter, Tim Burrell (BRK) taking the fifth 12/10 against Domagoj Spoljar of Croatia, the No. 2 seed in a real thriller.

The Men’s 35s had top seed Phil Nightingale (SRY) ease through and will meet Norfolk Champion Matt Bolt who had a narrowest of wins of Ireland’s Nick Staunton 14/12 in the fifth. Tom Elgood (GLS) and Paul Stroud (LEC) the 2 seed each were comfortable and will play in the other semi-final.

A thrilling day of Squash at the Masters and much more to come as Day 4 and the Semi Finals are on Saturday.

Stuart Hardy, Tournament Director

Day TWO Report:

All the top seeds were in action today and in the main, survived.

Not all seeds did, however and in the Men’s 70s 5/8 seed Alex Sinclair (SCO) fell to Trevor Cox (OFE) in five tough games and another 5/8 Chris Ansell (BKS) – a former World Masters Champion went down to Roger More (WKS) in four, 21/19 in the fourth!

All was not straightforward in the Men’s 65s a second seed Geoff Redfern (WKS) scraped home in five against Oxfordshire player Richard Kellagher. A former Champion Nick Drysdale (AVN) had a gruelling battle with the experienced Joe Richardson ((BKS) emerging a 3/2 winner while 2018 National Champion John Goodrich- a 5/8 seed fell in five to the talented Paul Reader of Hampshire.

In the 60s top seed Juan Mendez of Mexico put out Scotland’s Keith Gristwood in straight games while fellow Scot Paul Harris narrowly edged home 16/14 in the fifth against Colin Shields (DCL). Another former World Masters Champion Mark Cowley (MDX) struggled against Ripley Oyler (BKS) and had to recover to win in five. He now meets National Champion Jon Evans (Wales) in the next round.

Mark Woodliffe (GLS) is a serial Open Champion and looked ominously good as he progressed in the M55s. Ray Burke MBE (LNH) came through in five over Neil Harrison (DCL) and now meets Jonas Ulvsback of Sweden the second seed. All the other seeds progressed.

The Men’s 50s is a particularly strong group and there have been some great matches and a high quality of squash. John Musto (USA) played the match of the day against a former Champion, Andy Cross (DCL). In a superb match the American Champion came through 16/14 in the fourth. He now meets second seed Yawar Abbas (DCL). Another much anticipated match will be 2018 National Champion David Youngs (NOR) against Predi Fritsche of Germany in a great clash of styles.

The Men’s over 45s was very predictable in this early stage as all top eight seeds took their places in the quarter finals. The top seed is the evergreen Jamie Goodrich from Norfolk.

The 40s produced a thrilling five setter as Marcus Hayes (WKS) came through against Leicestershire’s Joss Hargrave but his County colleague James Bowden is the top seed and Croatian Domajog Spoljar, a regular winner in European tournaments is second seed. Some matches to go to see if they meet in the final.

Former Circuit player Phil Nightingale of Surrey is the favourite for the 35s having twice been a finalist. But the match of the round saw Nick Staunton of Ireland display his skills to overcome local pro Andy Cockerill of Yourshire in four.

On Friday the competition becomes more intense with some big names meeting in the Quarter Finals. The Women’s events also move ahead after some preliminary matches today.

Stuart Hardy, Tournament Director

Day ONE Report:

The Allam British Open Karakal Masters 2019 started today at the splendidly refurbished Hull University Sports Centre. Played alongside the professional event, the Masters players had the opportunity to see the top world ranked stars in action as well as all the Masters players from over 35s to over 80s.

In the Men’s over 70s Durham’s Tommy Elves was an early winner over Roger Holroyde of Yorkshire using his lob and drop game to good effect, while Peter Wilson of Derbyshire booked his next round place with a win over David Grant of Wales.

The Men’s 65s saw former Champion Nick Drysdale (Avon) in devastating form against South African Chris Hughes. There were also wins for Peter Smith (BUX), Cheshire’s Geoff Walton, Colin McNestrie (NLD) and Fred Harrison of Yorkshire who edged through 17/15 in the fifth game. Another former Champion Jim Dougall the Scotland no.1 came through in four against Devon’s Sam Balsdon.

In the Men’s 60s there were wins for David Kirk (OFE) and Durham’s Colin Shields while Scotland Player Keith Gristwood earned a match with top seed and World Silver Medallist Juan Mendez of Mexico. Peter Hoffling of Germany fell on this first day to Yorkshire’s Steve Forster while his county colleague Steve Ross ended Gary Powell’s tournament 16/14 in the fourth.

George Kouseff of Hampshire beat Scot Gordon Peden and his reward is a match with top seed in the 55s and many time Champion Mark Woodliffe (GLS). Alan Borrill (LCN) had a good five game win to upset the seedings against Steve Barlow (BFD). Steve Martin (YKS) eased past Mike Leonard (BUX) after a tight first game and German star Felix Paal won through but now meets second seed Jonas Ulvsback of Sweden.

In the Men’s 50s Matt Theodoris earned a shot at top seed and National Champion Phil Yerby (BUX) while Rick Weatherall of Berkshire came through a high quality match with Martin Geaar (LEC). Meanwhile Pete Lonsdale (DCL) came unstuck against Bruce St. Ledger (BFD) but former Champion Steve McLoughlin powered home against Cavan O’Driscoll of Wales. There were wins for John Musto (USA) and another former Champion, Andy Cross (DCL) and their clash is eagerly awaited.

The Men’s 45 Championship was struck by the late withdrawal of no. 1 seedJose Elias of Peru after his son was unexpectedly beaten in the Open event.

Thursday is Day 2 for the Masters and all the major seeds will be in action and the Men’s draws will set up the Quarter Finals.

Stuart Hardy, Tournament Director