By Mike Jones
English young guns Charlie Lee and Jasmine Hutton sailed into the main draw of the Dunlop National Championships for the first time in Manchester today.
19-year-old Charlie Lee [3/4], a Nationals debutant, put in a stellar performance against [5/8] Kyle Finch, winning 11-3, 11-7, 11-3 in 36 minutes.
Lee, who hails from Surrey and is the younger brother of Joe Lee, the 2017 Nationals runner-up, said; “Last year was my first year as a full-time pro but I was injured for the first six months so I couldn’t play in this tournament. It’s nice to qualify first time round.
“With a 16-man draw, that makes it a bit tougher and the qualification tournament is like an event itself and a tough one, so I’m looking forward to showing what I can do.”
Awaiting Lee in round one of the main draw will be [5/8] Josh Masters, ranked 57 in the world, also making his Nationals debut.
Meanwhile, 18-year-old Jasmine Hutton from Sussex also secured a main draw spot after Gear was forced to retire in the fourth: 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 4-3.
It was business as usual for the number one qualifying seed, Patrick Rooney who made light work of Matthew Parks securing an 11-7, 11-2, 11-2 victory in just 16 minutes.
Elsewhere, in what was perhaps the match of the day, men’s second seed Lyell Fuller, who claimed his first PSA title last week, was forced to dig deep in a 67-minute thriller against Scotland’s Rory Stewart.
Stewart put in a challenging performance but Fuller edged past in three: 11-9, 14-12, 20-18.
Elsewhere, Emyr Evans will represent Wales in the main draw after dispatching Julian Tomlinson 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 in straight games.
In the women’s qualifying draw, top seed Alison Thomson overcame Hannah Davies 9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-9 to secure her spot in the main draw.
England’s Kace Bartley, seeded second, faced Scotland’s Elspeth Young with Bartley prevailing 3-0: 11-6, 14-12, 11-4. Bartley was pushed hard in the second, saving three match balls before securing the win.
Meanwhile, Alicia Mead booked her place in her first Nationals main draw after defeating Scotland’s Katriona Allen 3-1: 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6.
Round one action gets under way at the National Squash Centre from noon on Thursday 15 February.
Dunlop National Squash Championships 2018 – Men’s Qualifying Finals
 Patrick Rooney (Eng) 3-0 Matthew Parks (Eng) 11-7, 11-2, 11-2 (16m)
 Lyell Fuller (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Rory Stewart (Sco) 11-9, 14-12, 20-18 (67m)
[3/4] Emyr Evans (Wal) 3-0 Julian Tomlinson (Eng) 11-7, 11-4, 12-10 (50m)
[3/4] Charlie Lee (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Kyle Finch (Eng) 11-3, 11-7, 11-3 (36m)
Dunlop National Squash Championships 2018 – Women’s Qualifying Finals
 Kace Bartley (Eng) 3-0 Elspeth Young (Sco) 11-6, 14-12, 11-4 (22m)
Alicia Mead (Eng) 3-1 Katriona Allan (Sco) 11-6, 11-7, 8-11, 11-6 (33m)
Jasmine Hutton (Eng) 3-1 [3/4] Grace Gear (Eng) 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 4-3 rtd (32m)
 Alison Thomson (Sco) 3-1 Hannah Davies (Wal) 9-11, 11-6, 11-2, 11-9 (34m)