Squash: Harrogate's James Willstrop loses fifth British Nationals final to Nick Matthew

Harrogate based squash player James Willstrop continued his hoodoo against Yorkshire rival Nick Matthew as he fell to defeat in the British National Championships final on Sunday.

Monday, 15th February 2016, 11:44 am
Updated Monday, 15th February 2016, 12:50 pm
James Willstrop, left, lost to Nick Matthew, right, in the final of the British National Championships on Sunday

Matthew sealed a historic eighth triumph after overcoming familiar foe Willstrop 11-2 6-11 11-3 11-3 at the National Squash Centre.

It was the fifth time the Yorkshire pair had met in the final, with Sheffield-born Matthew extending his unbeaten record over Willstrop at the event following a 50-minute triumph.

“It’s always tough to break James down,” said Matthew.

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“But the court was a bit deader than in previous days and he was maybe feeling (Saturday’s) five-setter by the end.

“The Nationals is a great event, always improving and it’s unbelievable and an absolute honour to have won it eight times.”

Willstrop had endured a tougher path than Matthew to the final after taking 82 minutes to get the better of fellow Harrogate player Chris Simpson in the last four.

The 32-year-old, who moved to Harrogate three years ago, came from two games behind against a plucky Simpson to prevail 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-8.

Chris Simpson lost to Willstrop in the semi-finals

“What a really enjoyable way to play squash,” said Willstrop afterwards. “Really enjoyable if a bit uncomfortable at times, but all credit to Chris for making it a really good match.

“It’s great to be playing well and winning.”

Simpson added: "The match with James was very tough and close.

"It came down to 8/8 in the fifth when James played three very good rallies.

Jenny Duncalf reached the women's semi-finals before losing to Alison Waters

"I think my form is good, I am competing well with the top players like James, but I am desperate to get a big win in soon."

Willstrop set-up his semi-final clash Simpson after defeating qualifier George Parker 1-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7.

Simpson had reached his second successive national semi-final after beating qualifier Joel Makin 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5 in the quarter-finals.

In the women’s draw, Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf’s dream of a third title was ended after a thrilling five-game defeat by second seed Alison Waters.

Chris Simpson lost to Willstrop in the semi-finals

Duncalf looked down and out after losing the first two games but came back to level before Waters regained her composure to close stay on course for her fifth title with an 13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 5-11, 11-9 victory in just under an hour.

The two-time champion, playing in her 16th Nationals, had enjoyed two victories on her way to the last four, including a notable quarter-final win over Halifax’s Sarah Campion.

The 33-year-old comfortable went past the challenge from Leonie Holt in straight games in round one before coming back from a game behind to beat Campion 9-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-7.

Waters went on to lose the final against world number one Laura Massaro 11-2 11-5 11-4 in Sunday’s final.

Jenny Duncalf reached the women's semi-finals before losing to Alison Waters