By Max Chesterton
The British National Masters Squash Championship entered its third day of action on Friday as players across seventeen categories vyed for a spot in the semis.
Top seed Mike Clemson became the first player in the MO75 category to book his place in the semi-finals as he went in search of an elusive third masters championship title.
The two-time champion will face the 2013 MO70 victor William Wilson in the last four as the duo both advanced with straight victories over their opponents Dudley Bostock and John Blurton.
Reigning champion Adrian Wright made light work of nudging past John Shaw, completing a 3-0 victory – 15-8, 15-6, 15-13.
The eight-time champion will face Beverley Boag in the semi-finals after he edged past Nigel Belle in the quarters.
Top seed Ian Ross is safely through to the semi-final finals after overcoming the challenge of the 2015 MO65 champion Aubrey Waddy with the score finishing 15-7, 15-6, 11-15, 15-3.
Nine-time Nationals winner and reigning champion Philp Ayton also advanced into the semi-finals after battling to a hard-fought 3-1 victory over challenger Jack Halford.
Ayton, who has won the competition at every age category including the British National Championship in 1975, is next set to play a captivating semi-final against no.1 seed Ian Ross.
Rodney Boswell will join the high-flying pair in the semi’s after he completed a captivating five game match against the valiant Martin Day – 11-15, 15-12, 19-17, 12-15, 15-9.
Second seed Barry Featherstone completes the semi-final line-up after having to endure a fiercely competitive five game match against 9/12 seed John Smith.
The morning session burst into life with a mouth-watering repeat of 2017’s final between reigning champion Ian Graham and runner-up Terry Belshaw.
In the first shock of the day, Belshaw reigned supreme – clinching the opening fixture of the morning 17-15, 15-8, 14-16, 15-9.
Last year’s runner-up exploded into action taking a tight first game before racing into a two-game lead by winning the second 15-8.
The 2017 winner and 3/4 seed didn’t relinquish his crown easily, battling back to claim the third before Belshaw turned up the heat to book his place in the semi-finals.
Top seed John Goodrich was made to work hard for his semi-final place, having to come from behind to progress past a lively Joe Richardson.
The Berkshire man looked as though he had the potential to cause a major upset before Suffolk’s Goodrich fought back to earn a deserved 13-15, 15-5, 15-7, 15-12 victory.
No.2 seed Ian Homes exhibited no big match nerves as he also progressed through to the semi-finals, claiming a comfortable 3-0 victory over Scotland’s Jim Dougal.
John Rae completes the semi-final line-up after reigning supreme in his match over opponent Paul Reader.
There were no shocks in the MO60 category as all four top seeds progressed through the semi-finals, including top seed Alan Barwise who overcame the challenge of 5/8 seed Ron Freeman in a quick three game match in 22 minutes.
The top seed will face 2017 runner-up Simon Evenden in the next round after the Northamptonshire man edged past Colin Shields 3-1.
Three-time winner Ian Bradburn will join Barwise and Evenden in the semi’s where the no.2 seed will face Stuart Hardy for the chance to reach his first MO60 final.
Six-time winner Mark Woodliffe could be in line for a third MO55 title in succession after completing a convincing 3-0 win over Neil Harrison to advance to the 2018 Nationals semi-finals.
The 2016 and 2017 winner showed no signs of complacency as the Gloucestershire man quickly wrapped up the match with a score of 11-5, 11-2, 11-7.
2013 MO50 champion Martin Greenslade joins Woodliffe in the semi’s after edging past Nigel Bacon in a 3-1 victory.
There was a major shock in the category as no.2 seed John Parkes fell at the quarter-final stage to a tenacious Greg Loach in an outstanding match.
The 5/8 seed was 2 games down before scrambling back in an incredible third game to win 20-18.
With the wind behind his sails, Loach grasped the opportunity and stole the next games 14-12, 11-8 to cap off an unbelievable performance. (8-11, 5-11, 20-18, 14-12, 11-8) (66m).
Gary Raw completes the final four after reigning victorious in his 3-1 win over David Box.
Top seed and four-time champion Yawar Abbas was the first to make the semi-finals, completing a 3-0 victory over Simon Spencer.
Elsewhere, Raymond Burke MBE claimed a major scalp knocking out reigning champion Stephen McLaughlin in an intense five game tussle.
The 3/4 seed went 2-1 ahead before Burke battled back clinching the crucial fourth and fifth games to book his place in the final four.
David Youngs and Andrew Cross are also into the semi-finals.
In perhaps the match of the day, Jonathan Gliddon and Rob Staunton played out an enthralling match-up which saw the pair give their all for a chance to play in the semi-finals.
Gliddon took the lead before Staunton went through the gears to take a two-game lead.
The Irishman faltered in the third enabling Gliddon to take back control in both the fourth and fifth game.
With Gliddon on game ball, the 5/8 seed pulled it out the bag gaining seven points in succession to earn the Irishman a spot in Saturday’s semi-finals.
Top seed Michael Harris is also through to the semi-final alongside Paul Boyle and Rob Staunton’s twin brother Nick.
All the top seeds are through to the final four with Jamie Goodrich, Jonathan Gallacher, Mick Biggs and Michael McLaughlin advancing.
Reigning champion and former pro. Andy Whipp had no problems overcoming the challenge of Dave Barnett, completing a 3-0 win in 27 minutes.
Joining Whipp in the semi-final is 2017 runner-up Darren Lewis, as well as Keith Timms and Peter Billson.
Top seed and two-time winner Faith Sinclair got her National Masters Championship off to a flier when she clinched a 3-1 win over Jane Hill.
Similarly, seven time-title holder Bett Dryhurst claimed a 3-1 win over Sue Wastie in 30 minutes.
No.1 seed Sian Johnson got her campaign for masters glory underway to a winning start, achieving a 3-0 victory in just 13 minutes.
Meanwhile no.2 seed Karen Hume claimed a 3-1 victory over Lynne Davies.
No.2 seed Jill Campion advanced to the semi-finals after dispatching the spirited Sarah Howlett in a tense three game match.
The three-time champion came out the blocks firing on all cylinders before Howlett battled back making for a tense final game.
However, the reigning champion had enough quality and experience to complete a three-game victory – 15-10, 15-11, 15-12.
Hilary Kenyon will face Campion in the semi’s while top seed Mandy Akin will take on Lesley Sturgess in the other match.
Top seed Rachel Woolford booked her place in the semi-finals of the British Masters Championship after completing a 3-1 victory over Sheila Blake as she looks to earn her maiden title.
Sue Martin-Downhill also joins Woolford in the final four after attaining a 3-1 win over Shelly Walsh.
Beverley Brockway and Kay Fallows also advanced to the semi-finals.
Top seed Shayne Baillie had no problems against Welsh opponent Jill Griffiths, completing a quickfire 3-0 victory that sees the WO40 2015 Masters Championship winner advance to the semi-finals.
Her next opponent will be two-time Masters champion Isabelle Tweedle who had to endure a tough five game fixture against Amanda Warren.
After going 2-1 behind, Tweedle returned fighting, claiming back to back wins to wrap up a tough quarter-final match – 7-11, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8.
Reigning champion Andrea Santamaria showed no signs of complacency as she took only seventeen minutes to advance to a semi-final berth – claiming a 11-3, 11-9, 11-5 (16m) victory over Linda Pritchard.
The Yorkshire woman will next face Helen Barnard in the semis with a chance to reach the final for the second year in succession.
Reigning champion Keeley Johnson was made to work for her quarter final victory over Katie Lawrence, but the no.1 seed escaped unscathed with a determined 3-1 victory.
After going 1-0 up, Lawrence broke back taking the second before Johnson finished the job after coming from 5-1 behind in the final game – 11-4, 4-11, 11-3, 11-7.
Elsewhere, there was a minor shock as 3/4 seed Krissy Burkin fell short against Zoe Shardlow in an intriguing five game clash.
The third semi-final slot was awarded to Rachel Calver after she completed a 3-0 comprehensive victory over Alexandra Gray.
Louisa Dalwood also made the semi’s after coming through a gruelling five game match versus Kate Bradshaw.
The Dunlop British National Masters Championship recommences on Saturday from 10am.
You can follow all the action on Twitter: @squashmasters and online.