By Mike Jones
Following four days of intense action, fourteen new British National Masters champions were crowned at the Northern Squash Club in Didsbury.
Of the 17 finals played across as many age categories, the stand out game came in the MO45 group where it was a heated battle of brothers.
Identical twins Nick and Rob Staunton went head-to-head in the explosive final of the MO45.
Nick, who beat the No.1 seed in his semi-final was pushed to the limit in the opening two games narrowly winning both by two points.
It took its toll as Rob, ranked 5/8, responded with an 11-8 victory in the third.
The match became increasingly heated as the brothers battled for every point, but it was Rob who clinched the fourth 12-10 to set up a decider.
With the gruelling match already over an hour long, the tie looked to be over as Nick took a 6-0 lead in the last game.
However, Rob dramatically fought back, moving within two points of victory at 9-7, but it was Nick who found the extra inch finally winning 11-8.
He becomes the new MO45 National Masters champion taking the match 12-10, 12-10, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8 in 71 minutes.
“I played two years ago and got beat quite well,” said Nick after the match, “So I’m really happy, it means a lot.”
When asked how it felt to beat his brother in the final he replied: “I’d much rather it be somebody else, over the years we go through our phases, I beat him, he beats me and I’m just in the winning phase.”
Patrick Kirton, the reigning champion and the only man to ever win the MO80 faced off against John Woodliffe in the final.
Kirton, whose first of 17 masters titles came in 1982, looked under pressure early on as Woodliffe, the no. 2 seed won the first game.
However, Kirton drew on his many years of experience to stage a fightback against the 3-times masters winner and take the match 9-16, 15-8, 15-8, 15-12 in 30 minutes.
He becomes an 18-time masters title winner and has won the MO80 title twice in as many years.
2017 champion Adrian Wright faced a challenge from 3/4 seed William Wilson in the MO75 final.
Wilson, the 2013 MO70 champion, had other ideas and dominated the match winning 15-6, 15-6, 15-9 in just 23 minutes to be crowned National Masters MO75 champion for the first time.
Following his victory over the No.1 seed yesterday, 3/4 seed Philip Ayton was not as fortunate against the No.2 seed Barry Featherstone.
The 2017 champion had it all to do after losing the first game 15-10, as he strove to retain his title.
A close second game saw nine-time champion Ayton slowly pull ahead but with the score 13/8 in his favour he had to retire injured.
This handed the title to Featherstone as he became a four-time Masters champion.
No. 1 seed John Goodrich squared off against last year’s runner-up Terry Belshaw in the MO65 final.
Belshaw was in fine form taking an early 2-0 lead before Goodrich rediscovered the form he had been showing all week
In a closely contested third game Goodrich emerged victorious and never looked back.
Games four and five came and went with the No. 1 seed proving up to his rank by winning both 15-9.
From 2-0 down, Goodrich took not only the match but the title 7-15, 9-15, 15-13, 15-9, 15-9.
Whatever the outcome, the MO60 would see a new champion being crowned in a final between the top two seeds.
Allen Barwise  faced 3-times masters champion Ian Bradburn  and clinched the first game 15-13.
However, Bradburn drew level after a comprehensive 15-5 victory in the second, but Barwise was too skilful and he won the last two games 15-10, 15-7 respectively to become MO60 champion for the first time.
2-time MO55 champion Mark Woodliffe looked set to make it three in three as he faced 5/8 seed Greg Loach in the final.
Loach played valiantly in the first two games, but it was Woodliffe who claimed the victory.
A 3-0 (12-10, 14-12, 11-5) win sees Woodliffe be crowned champion for the third time in as many years.)
On paper a battle between the top two seeds in the category should be a close affair, not so in the MO50.
No 2 seed David Youngs made quick work of his higher seeded opponent Yawar Abbas, winning the match 3-11, 4-11, 3-11 in just 15 minutes.
This meant that 4-time champion Abbas took the runners-up position for the second year in a row and Youngs earned his first MO50 title.
46-year-old and No. 1 seed Jamie Goodrich faced the No. 2 seed Mick Biggs in a one-sided contest for the MO40 championship.
The first two games came extremely close with Biggs pushing Goodrich to the line. In the third, Goodrich turned up the heat to win the match 3-0: 12-10, 14-12, 11-5.
Peter Billson caused a huge upset in the MO35 as he defeated 2017 champion Andrew Whipp 3-0.
Whipp, the No. 1 seed was barely in the contest as no.2 seed Billson dominated throughout claiming an 11-5, 11-2, 11-4 victory and a National Championship to go with it.
Scotland’s Faith Sinclair fought No. 2 seed Bett Dryhurst in the deciding match of the WO65 pool.
With both women undefeated in the competition so far, the No, 1 seed showed her class defeating the 2016 champion 15-9, 15-9, 15-5 to take the title.
Dryhurst finished second in the pool with Sue Wastie third following her 3-2 win over Jane Hill.
In the WO60 4-pool no.1 seed Sian Johnson played no. 2 seed Karen Hume in what was effectively a final.
Both players were undefeated coming into the match and it was Johnson who made the early strike.
She took the first game 15-8 but Hume rallied and drew level after winning the second 15-12.
Wales’ Johnson then turned up the heat and took the last two games to win 15-8, 12-15, 15-9, 15-13 in 39 minutes.
Johnson took the title with Hume second, and Jane Law third following her 3-1 win over Lynne Davies.
In a contest of champions, 5-times master winner Mandy Akin faced the reigning WO55 champion Jill Campion in the final.
The top seed came out strongly, taking the first game 15-9 and Campion could find no respite as Akin was also victorious in the second.
A 15-6 win in the third meant that Akin became the new WO55 champion having won the match 3-0.
Top seed Rachel Woolford showed why she is the higher ranked of the two finalists as she overcame Kay Fallows in straight games.
Taking just 25 minutes to win 15-13, 15-7, 15-11 Woolford came back from 6-1 down in the third to claim her first WO50 title.
It was a clash of the top seeds in the WO45 as Shayne Baillie  met Andrea Santamaria .
Baillie took the lead against the 2017 champion, easily taking the first game 11-6 before following it up with an 11-9 win in the second.
Just as the finish line was in sight however Santamaria fought back and claimed the third 11-6 to spark a comeback.
It was not to be as Baillie edged a tight fourth 13-11 to clinch not only the game but the title.
2017 champion and top seed Keeley Johnson squared off against a fierce opponent in Rachel Calver for the WO40 championship.
Johnson stormed to a 1-0 lead before the no. 2 seed won back to back games.
After Johnson rallied to draw the match level it was Calver who came out on top – winning the match 3-2, (5-11, 11-4, 11-6, 7-11, 11-5) to be crowned the new WO40 champion.
No. 1 seed Lauren Briggs hoped to make it four championships in four years as she faced Amina Helal in the WO35 final.
She was shocked in the first game as Helal, the No. 2 seed powered to an 11-5 victory, but Briggs rallied and clinched the next three games to ensure her winning championship streak continues.