Irish Open Day 3: Round 1

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Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open

30 August up to 4 September 2010

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Day 3, Women’s Round 1:

It’s all thumbs up for SquashStar Aisling.

(5) Vanessa Atkinson (NED) beat Lauren Siddall (ENG)
11/3, 11/3, 11/7 (23 mins)
(2) Natalie Grainger (USA) beat Sharon Wee (MAS)
11/4, 11/6, 11/6 (20 mins)
(Q) Victoria Lust (ENG) beat (8) Alana Miller (CAN)
11/8, 11/6, 11/8 (37 mins)
(3) Natalie Grinham (NED) beat Annelize Naude (NED)
11/8, 3/11, 11/5, 8/11, 11/5. (36 mins)
(7) Aisling Blake (IRE) beat (Q) Leonie Holt (ENG)
11/7, 11/6, 9/11, 11/6 (45 mins)
(1) Madeline Perry (IRE) beat (Q) Sina Wall
11/9, 11/4, 11/4 (25 mins)
(4) Laura Massaro (ENG) beat Alexandra Norman (CAN)
11/5, 11/2, 11/4 (25 mins)
(6) Sarah Kippax (ENG) beat (Q) Laura Hill (ENG)
10/12, 11/8, 11/7, 11/3 (44 mins)

BY Arthur Curran

Lauren and Vanessa

The first two matches in the women’s draw were over rather quickly, with first former World No 1 Vanessa Atkinson of Holland defeating her friend and Pontefract club mate Lauren Siddall quite comfortably 11/3, 11/3, 11/7 in 28 minutes, then another former World No1 Natalie Grainger defeating Sharon Wee of Malaysia 11/4, 11/6, 11/6 in the even shorter time of 20 minutes.

Nice hairdo, Alana! 

The third match between No 8 seed Alana Miller, just named in Canada’s squad for the Commonwealth games, and qualifier Vicky Lust of England turned out to be much more of a battle. The first game was really a battle, both ladies playing very strongly, the score moved up slowly and evenly up to 8/8, then Lust eased away to serve out 11/8. The second started a little slower up to 3/3, but then Lust put in a charge to go to 8/3. Despite Miller taking two points back at this stage, and saving one match ball at 10/5, Lust hung on to win 11/6. In the third the lead changed hands several times with both players doing their best to take control, which Lust did in the end to win 11/8 and the match 3 – 0. A really good win for young Victoria against a player ranked 24 places higher in the world.

Annelize and Natalie

The fourth match up was between the two Dutch compatriots Annelize Naude and Natalie Grinham, in her first match since having baby Kieran (he is already the star of the tournament here, more about that later). Natalie looked very fit and took a good early lead 8/2, playing her usual lovely squash, but Annelize stayed in the game and pulled it back to 8/9, then Natalie took he next two points and the game 11/8. Annelize led 4/1 in the second, Natalie pulled back to level, Annelize took the next point but that was to be her last in this game, Natalie taking 7 straight points to win the game 11/5. In the fourth, Natalie looked not quite back to full match fitness and Annelize took advantage of this with some great squash and after a four point sequence to go 9/5 up, held on to win 11/8. 2 games each and a decider to play. Natalie came back with her usual bouncy style, led 5/2 and 9/4 then served out to win the game 11/5 and the match 3 – 2. A great match between two really nice women, and a good workout for Natalie, who told me she just needs to play more top level games, but unfortunately may not be able to before the World Open.

Aisling and Leonie.

Next on the ladies court was local player and local favourite Aisling Blake, seeded No 7 and WR 26, up against the English qualifier WR 155 Leonie Holt. Leonie, despite her much lower ranking, showed to be a really gutsy player as she did in qualifying, kept fairly close to Aisling on the score card, but Aisling with her lovely dainty drop shots and her Irish grit eased away to win the first two games 11/7 and 11/6. But Leonie was not to be outdone, and in a gruelling third game she managed to win 11/9. This really was a great effort from Leonie, considering the difference in their rankings, but despite keeping fairly close to Aisling in the fourth, experience showed through in the end with Aisling taking the game 11/6 and the match 3 – 1 in a long 45 minutes. This was probably the biggest match of Leonie’s career and her coach Chris Ryder, just managing time to watch her before he took to the court in the men’s competition, was really happy with her performance.

Sina and top seed, Madeline.

Now we come to the No 1 seed and favourite for this tournament, Irish player Madeline Perry, WR 6, who was up against a young up and coming qualifier from Germany, qualifier Sina Wall, WR 212 (yes that is correct), who had fought so well through the qualifying rounds. She carried on that fighting spirit her in the first game and whilst never heading Madeline, she kept very close to her in the scoring, just losing out 11/9. Then Madeline showed her experience and skills, easing through 11/4 and 11/4 in the next two games. But keep an eye out for this youngster from Germany, I think she could go far in the next few years. But at least that pleased the local supporters, with now 2 Irish ladies through to the next round.

Still a couple more matches to go, with No 4 seed Laura Massaro from England easing through fairly comfortably against the young Canadian player Alexandra Norman, who is ranked 50 places below her, 11/5, 11/2, 11/4, despite a knock in the eye which could come up fairly black tomorrow. If it does nobody can blame husband Danny for causing it!!

Last up were two English ladies, No 6 seed Sarah Kippax, recently married to England coach David Campion, and full time fire fighter and part time, but very experienced, squash player Laura Hill from Derbyshire in England. Laura started out like a house on fire (pardon the pun) taking a great 10/2 lead, and despite Sarah pulling back to level at 10/10 she served out to take the game 12/10. However, Sarah then showed her much more tournament experience, along with her great racquet skills, to take the next 3 games 11/8, 11/7 and 11/3.

And so we came to the end of a really exciting and entertaining day of Squash, with some great matches to look forward to later today.

The Berden family pictured with tournament star, little Kieran Berden.

Arthur Curran lives in Manchester, England and is an avid squash fan, traveling to places like Belfast, Madrid, Monte Carlo, New York, Connecticut, Dublin and Kuala Lumpur to watch major tournaments, as well as extensively in the UK, and have on several occasions reported tournaments for Although too old and too ill to be able to play the game he is fascinated by the athleticism and skill involved in the game and with the friendliness shown by all the players.

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