James Willstrop wins third British National Championship title

February 17 2019

James Willstrop prevailed on finals day at the AJ Bell British National Championships after overcoming a spirited challenge from Daryl Selby to lift the prestigious titles at the David Ross Sports Village at the University of Nottingham.

The 35-year-old top seed enjoyed a rich vein of form throughout the championships, with the route to his tenth final including one-sided straight game victories over Harry Falconer & Nathan Lake before edging-out Scottish No.1 Greg Lobban 9-11 12-10 11-6 11-3 in a tightly-contested & at times feisty 56-minute semi-final.

In contrast, Selby battled to reach his third national final by recovering from losing the opening two games in each of his matches – overcoming #teamunsquashable player Rory Stewart of Scotland 9-11 12-14 11-6 11-9 11-8 in an enthralling 87-minute 1st round encounter before edging past Chris Simpson & Adrian Waller in five games in the quarter-finals & semi-finals respectively.

Willstrop showed immediate intent in an eagerly anticipated final with a stunning pick-up at the front of the court to win a mammoth opening point before Selby responded in fine fashion moments later with a shot through his legs which brought the admiration of crowd & opponent alike. The English pair traded points before Willstrop eventually closed-out the game 11-5.

The former World No. 1 seized control of the second game, racing into a 6-0 lead but Selby fought back with the grit & determination which had characterised his tournament to level the score at 7-7 & took the momentum to level the match with his first game ball.

The third game was equally tense & closely fought until a let decision in Willstrop’s favour at 7-5 allowed him to regain the momentum & take the game 11-5.

Despite the game deficit, Selby’s belligerence showed no sign of waning, however Willstrop’s overall greater accuracy eventually proved crucial in allowing him to close-out the contest 11-5 7-11 11-5 11-7 in 60 minutes with his second match ball.

“It’s lovely,” said the three-time champion who previously won the title in 2007 & 2009.

“To win a big title like this with so many big players is fantastic. My body got through it. It’s a huge title & a very special thing to be able to achieve, so I’m very, very happy. I came here feeling fit & strong, so I gave myself a chance.”

AJ Bell British National Championships
David Ross Sports Village, University of Nottingham
Men’s Final:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [2] Daryl Selby (ENG) 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7

AJ Bell British National Championships Preview:
The 2019 AJ Bell British National Championships which will see the UK’s leading players vie for the coveted titles in Nottingham in February.

The 46th edition of the flagship event hosted by England Squash has been staged in Manchester since 1997 & will move to the University of Nottingham & Nottingham Squash Rackets Club from the from the 12th to 17th February.

More than 400 of Britain’s finest will compete across 19 categories from the men’s & women’s main draw up to & including the Men’s Over 80s. Amongst them will be Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist James Willstrop, defending Women’s Champion Tesni Evans of Wales & former title holders Laura Massaro, Daryl Selby & Sarah-Jane Perry.

Following the recent retirement of the record 10 times champion Nick Matthew, the men’s championship promises to be hotly contested by a plethora of challengers with genuine title aspirations.

Two-time champion James Willstrop who came up against Matthew sixty-two times in a sometimes contentious & ill-tempered rivalry overcame his illustrious rival on just 13 occasions, however 2019 could prove to be his time to prevail following his recent Commonwealth Games success where he was crowned Men’s Singles Gold Medallist as well as winning a Bronze Medal in the Men’s Doubles.

Rivalling Willstrop will be compatriot Declan James who partnered the former World No.1 in the Men’s Doubles at the Commonwealth Games & who also beat his illustrious compatriot in the final of the Nantes Open to record a surprise victory on the PSA World Tour in September.

Daryl Selby, another former national champion who won the prestigious title in 2011 by beating Matthew in an enthralling final, can also be assured of mounting a tough-minded challenge.

Outside of a strong English contingent, other leading contenders for the men’s title include Welsh No.1 Joel Makin & Scottish No.1 Greg Lobban.

The women’s title will be equally competitive with Tesni Evans, Laura Massaro, Sarah-Jane Perry & Alison Waters all clear contenders.

Tesni Evans, who made history in 2018 as the first ever Welsh player to be crowned British Champion after overpowering four-time champion Alison Waters, will be keen extended her impressive run of form which has seen her rise to a career No.9 in the PSA World Rankings.

Waters, the England No.3 will also be motivated to build upon her impressive record of four titles from five final appearances, whilst Laura Massaro who has reached the finals seven times, winning the title four times, winning be equally determined to add to her legacy.

Sarah-Jane Perry, another former champion who triumphed over Massaro in 2015 will be another one-to-watch after impress start to the season.

The main draw qualification rounds & half of the men’s 1st round matches will be staged at Nottingham Squash Rackets Club before moving over to the all-glass show court at the University of Nottingham.

Nottingham Squash Rackets Club will host the entirety of the Masters event.

James Willstrop looking forward to AJ Bell British National Squash Championships
Two-time champion James Willstrop is looking forward to pitting himself against the best of the new generation at the AJ Bell British National Squash Championships to be staged in Nottingham from the 14th to 17th February.

The former World No.1 won back-to-back titles in 2007 & 2008 & has finished runner-up in four of the last six finals.

With defending champion Nick Matthew having retired, this year’s tournament is the most open in recent memory & James Willstrop is relishing the challenge.

“The quality of the field is starting to look as strong as it’s probably looked in years & definitely as competitive,” said the English No.1.

“You’ve got all these English players coming through who I’m really excited about, as an older player who’s looking at what’s coming up for England Squash. Some of these players are becoming really strong, it’s pleased me as I know how hard they’re all working with the coaches & with England Squash in particular putting the effort into them.”

Previously held in Manchester, the championships are moving to their new home in Nottingham this year.

“We’ve had a lot of great support from Manchester over the years & I’ve had an awful lot of affection for those events,” said the two-time champion. “It’s a positive thing with taking the event to a new part of the country where squash is thriving. The University of Nottingham is putting an awful lot of effort into the sport & squash is really benefiting”.

“I recently played on the all-glass court there where I won the British Universities Championships. It’s a nice & compact venue with a great atmosphere.

Having played in each edition of the tournament since 1999 Willstrop is well-versed in the championships significance.

“It has such a prestige associated with it, I’ve played it for so many years. So many great players in the world have won it because of the strength of the home nations over the years. It’s a big title to be British champion & I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

James Willstrop seeded to meet Daryl Selby in final of AJ Bell British National Championships
Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist James Willstrop and former British National Champion Daryl Selby are seeded to meet in the final of the AJ Bell British National Squash Championships to be staged in Nottingham from the 12th to 17th February.

James Willstrop, a former World.No.1 and two-time British National Champion will kick-off his campaign against a qualifier with a potential semi-final clash against Declan James, however the British No.1 will first have to overcome fellow UNSQUASHABLE player George Parker in the quarter-finals.

This year’s men’s main draw of the AJ Bell British National Squash Championships will also UNSQUASHABLE players Josh Masters and Charlie Lee.

Patrick Rooney, Robert Downer, Mark Fuller and Rory Stewart favourites to claim the last four places in the main draw. Round one commences on Thursday 14th February at NSRC and the University of Nottingham.

AJ Bell British National Squash Championships
Men’s 1st Round:
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) v Qualifier
[6] George Parker (ENG) v Nathan Lake (ENG)
[5] Greg Lobban (SCO) v Qualifier
[3] Declan James (ENG) v Richie Fallows (ENG)
[4] Tom Richards (ENG) v Charlie Lee (ENG)
[8] Adrian Waller (ENG) v Qualifier
[7] Chris Simpson (ENG) v Josh Masters (ENG)
[2] Daryl Selby (ENG) v Qualifier

AJ Bell British National Squash Championships 2019 – Men’s Entry List
[1] James Willstrop (ENG)
[2] Daryl Selby (ENG)
[3/4] Tom Richards (ENG)
[3/4] Declan James (ENG)
[5/8] Greg Lobban (SCO)
[5/8] George Parker (ENG)
[5/8] Chris Simpson (ENG)
[5/8] Adrian Waller (ENG)
[9/12] Nathan Lake (ENG)
[9/12] Joshua Masters (ENG)
[9/12] Richie Fallows (ENG)
[9/12] Charlie Lee (ENG)

UNSQUASHABLE is committed to developing equipment to be used by the world’s leading players because we believe that engineering equipment for professional competition makes for a better product for the everyday player.

James Willstrop uses the UNSQUASHABLE JAME WILLSTROP AUTOGRAPH racket which is available exclusively from www.unsquashable.com

George Parker and Josh Masters use the UNSQUASHABLE TOUR-TEC PRO racket which is available exclusively from www.unsquashable.com

Charlie Lee uses the UNSQUASHABLE Y-TEC PRO racket which is available exclusively from www.unsquashable.com

UNSQUASHABLE sponsored players and brand ambassadors competing on the PSA World Tour are sponsored by AJ Bell, one of the UK’s largest providers of online investment platforms and stockbroker services.

James Willstrop confirmed as top seed for AJ Bell British National Squash Championships
British No.1 and Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist James Willstrop has been confirmed as the top seed for the AJ Bell British National Squash Championships to be staged in Nottingham from the 12th to 17th February.

The former World No.1 will be starring in his 21st British National Championships and bidding for his third championship title.

James Willstrop will headline a top-class men’s draw for the 45th edition of the prestigious domestic event and will be joined by some of the biggest names on the British circuit including 2011 champion Daryl Selby who is seeded to reach the final.

The 35-year-old top seed will be joined in the main draw by fellow UNSQUASHABLE players George Parker, Josh Masters and Charlie Lee.

Unfortunately, Welsh No.1 Joel Makin will be absent from this year’s championships following an ankle injury sustained at the recent Tournament of Champions in New York.

The men's qualifying event will take place on 12th and 13th February at Nottingham Squash Rackets Club and will see the top four advancing to the main draw.