Day 4. The tournament gets to the “business end” with the Semi Finals
The Elder Statesmen of the Men’s over 80s continued with Canadian Scot Vince Taylor comfortably beating many time Champion Pat Kirton (SRY) 3/0 while perennial opponents Lance Kinder (HPH) and John Woodliffe (GLR) had another five game match, this one going to World Champion, Kinder.
The not so elder 75s saw the top seeds Mike Clemson and Adrian Wright, both of Yorkshire get through. Clemson having a real battle with Ken Reid (SCO) winning the first two 17/15. 19/17. before taking the third. Wright had an easier time with Nigel Belle (KNT).
Former England no. 1 Phil Ayton (SSX) had a stern test from the Scotland no. 1 seed Ian Ross who took the first 18/16. Ayton reeled him in however, taking control and the next three. Open Champion Howard Cherlin (MDX) took on defending Champion Barry Featherstone ((HPH) in the other semi.
Featherstone led 14/9 in the first but Merlin Cherlin conjured some magic and took it 16/14. At 10/11 in the second Featherstone twisted his knee and had to concede. It was a shame as it was becoming a good tussle.
With all the ups and downs of the Men’s 65s the semis were pretty straightforward affairs. Steve Johnson (LNH) ended Richard Whitehouse’s run while second seed Geoff Redfern (WKS) put Open Champion Ian Holmes (NHM) to the sword, also in straight games.
There was a shock in the Men’s 60s when Defending Champion Allen Barwise (LNH) beat British Open Champion Jeremy Goulding (AVN) 3/1, ending a season long winning streak. No. 2 seed Jon Evans (WAL) proved too mobile for Gordon McManus (KNT)and is looking to add to his 55 National title. Open and National Champion Mark Woodliffe is rarely threatened but Alex Betts (MDX) gave him a good test before going down 3/1.
Meanwhile, Greg Loach (DYS) reached the final for the second year by beating Steve Calvert (NLD) 3/1.
The semis of the 50s were both thrillers. Phil Yerby held off two match points in the fifth against Stuart Milton (BRK) before taking the it 12/10 while home favourite Matthew Oxley(NOT) squeezed home in a thriller against former Champion Yawar Abbas (DCL) 11/9 in the fifth. Two very high quality matches.
he 45s had Jonathan Gallagher (DVN) remove top seed Michael McLaughlin (MDX) coming back from 1/2 down to win in five. The Leicester pro. looking to add to his European titles already won this season.
Meanwhile Paul Boyle (BUX) stayed ahead of the powerful hitting of Jonathan Gliddon (DVN) to take his place in the final with a straight games win.
The evergreen Jamie Goodrich (NFK) playing down an age group in the 40s played very controlled squash to contain Stuart Ayton (SCO) and reach the final with a straight games win. His opponent will be second seed Matt Marshall (BUX) who skilfully contained the power of the giant killing Adam Giles (WLT) to win in four.
The Men’s 35s Final will be contested by top seed Peter Marshall (NOT) – the former World no. 2 overpowering Martin Gibson (LCN) with his uncompromising double handed style. He plays Surrey pro Phil Nightingale in the final after second seed Darren Lewis (LEC) pulled a muscle when 2/1 up and compromised, went down in five.
In the Women’s 60s defending National Champion Sian Johnson (WAL) lost to 2016 World Champion Karen Hume (KNT) while current World title holder Jill Campion (MDX) had a terrific battle with four times World Champion Julie Field (YKS) emerging the winner 15/13 in the fifth.
The Women’s 55 had an inevitability about it. The best two women in the UK would again battle for the prize and Mandy Akin (KNT) will play her arch-rival Fiona McLean (SCO) after they beat Lesley Sturgess (DBY) and Hilary Kenyon (CHS) respectively. Kenyon took the first 18/16 but after that it was all McLean.
The 2018 Champion Rachel Woolford (WKS) went out to Nikki Fowler (CHS) in one semi, 3/1 while top seed Andrea Santamaria (YKS) out-rallied Wales no. 1 Helen Barnard.
The 45s will be a battle of the Rachels. Rachel Woodford (NOT) had a tough match with former European Champion Isabelle Tweedle (SRY) who very nearly went two up, while Rachel Calver (LEC) was too strong for Sam Mueller (BUX).
The Women’s over 40s Keeley Johnson (KNT) has been dominant winning National, British Open and European titles. But she ran onto a very in form Nicky Green (NOR) who clinched a tight fourth 14/12 to earn her final place. There she will meet Natalie Townsend (WKS) who today had the measure of second seed Vix Smith (SRY).
In the 35s the dominant force is Lauren Briggs (ESX) a former World top twenty player who makes a habit of winning the big titles. She beat county compatriot Sarah Jane Neller while the other semi was a great match with no. 2 seed Ria Kennerly (SFD) just getting home 11/9 in the fifth against Anna Vaughan-Hawkins of Wales.
So, some superb semi finals. Some predicted and some upsets, which is what makes sport so compelling.
Tomorrow there will be new National Champions crowned and there will be triumph and disappointment. Spectators are welcome at Nottingham Squash Club to watch a feast of Squash from 10.30am. Sunday.
Chairman. England Squash Masters.