Irish Open Day 4: Quarterfinals

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Cannon Kirk Homes Irish Open

30 August up to 4 September 2010

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Day 4, Women’s Quarterfinals:

Ready and waiting.

[1] Madeline Perry (IRL)bt. [Q] Victoria Lust (ENG)
11/7, 11/5, 11/2 (25 mins)
[4] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt. [6] Sarah Kippax (ENG)
7/11, 11/2, 8/11, 11/3, 11/8 (60mins)
[7] Aisling Blake (IRL) bt. [3] Natalie Grinham (NED)
11/4, 11/4, 9/11, 11/3 (42 mins)
[5] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) bt. [2] Natalie Grainger (USA)
11/7, 11/6, 11/7 (23 mins)

BY Arthur Curran


Hello, Ireland!


[1] Madeline Perry (IRL) bt. [Q] Victoria Lust (ENG)

Victoria and Madeline

First up today saw No 1 seed and Irish favourite Madeline Perry against the young English player Victoria Lust, the only qualifier to make her way through to the quarter finals. Victoria is not yet used to playing against top ranked players, but she is certainly learning very quickly, and seems toimprove every time I see her play. Madeline showed her experience and skill to take a 10/4 lead in the first with Victoria, although fighting hard, seeming to find the pace a little too quick, but she did save 3 game balls before Madeline took the game 11/7.

In the second Victoria picked up the odd single point in between some short breaks from Madeline, and Madeline served out to take the game 11/5. With Victoria visibly tiring, Madeline worked hard into a 9/1 lead, Victoria managed to take two points at this stage but Madeline then served out to take the game 11/3 and the match 3 games to nil in 25 minutes.

Madeline, looking forward to the semis now!

[4] Laura Massaro (ENG) bt. [6] Sarah Kippax (ENG)
Second ladies match up was between two England team mates, #4 seed Laura Massaro and #6 seed Sarah Kippax, so this was expected to be quite a close encounter, which it proved to be. Laura seemed a little out of sorts in the first game and Sarah, 16 places below her in the rankings, took advantage of this, playing some great squash, and won the game 11/7.

Laura, returning Sarah’s shot.

Laura to play Madeline tomorrow.

Laura came out much more determined in the second, and flew into a 7/0 lead, Sarah stopped the flow slightly with 2 points, but then Laura carried on to win the game 11/2. Laura moved out to an early 5/3 lead but Sarah slowly pulled back to 6/5, then 9/7, and finally took the game 11/8 to lead 2 – 1. In the fourth, from 3/3 Laura put in a great run of points to take the game 11/3 and level the match.

Laura scored the first point of the deciding game, before Sarah galloped in to a 6/1 lead, but with a beautiful crosscourt drop Laura stopped that gallop and went on a good run of her own to move into the lead 7/6. Although Sarah fought back to lead 8/7, with both players playing some lovely shots, Laura came back at the end with a run of 4 points to win the game 11/8 and the match 3 – 2 after just on an hour of very enjoyable squash.

[7] Aisling Blake (IRL) bt. [3] Natalie Grinham (NED)

Third quarter final saw local favourite and #7 seed Aisling Blake take on new mum #3 seed Natalie Grinham from Holland. The gallery was quite full for this one with plenty of support for their local player Aisling, and as the match progressed it got fuller and fuller. Natalie did appear to be a little out of sorts but Aisling was in scintillating form and played probably the best squash of her career.
To the delight of the crowd she took the first two games 11/4, 11/4 and club members seemed to be appearing from everywhere. Natalie was determined not to let her have all her own way however, starting to show some of her natural skills, taking a 6/2 lead, but Aisling pulled back to level at 6/6, then they stayed level to 9/9, and Natalie showed her strength to take the game 11/9. But that was to be the end of any possible comeback, Aisling with some beautiful stroke play went into a 7/0 lead, slowed only by giving Natalie two points with mistakes, one tin and one out of court, then at 10/2 match ball, with the crowd really buzzing, Natalie saved one match ball with a lovely cross court drop, but Aisling took the next point to win 11/7 and the match 3 – 0. The crowd went wild with applause, and deservedly so.
How about that then?? And it was not the luck of the Irish, Aisling played brilliantly and really deserved this win, which she describes as the best win of her career. She was so happy afterwards, with her parents there to congratulate her, and the whole club (her local club here at Fitzwilliam) was and still is buzzing. A great result not just for Aisling but for the
tournament itself, with her being a local girl. Natalie had no complaints and certainly no excuses, although not back to full fitness since having baby Kieran, she told me “ I was beaten by a better player on the day”.

Natalie, digging deep.

Aisling looking fitter than ever!

The Blake Family

[5] Vanessa Atkinson (NED) bt. [2] Natalie Grainger (USA)

Former World Champs, Vanessa Atkinson and Natalie Grainger

In the last quarter final match there was another albeit minor shock to the seedings when #5 seed Vanessa Atkinson from Holland played #2 seed Natalie Grainger of the USA. With Natalie sparkling only in patches, and not looking really back to full fitness after her 12 month long lay off with a foot injury, Vanessa took advantage playing some really good squash, and won the match 11/7, 11/6, 11/7 in just 23 minutes.
So here in Dublin, with an Irish player in each semi final there is the possibility of an all Irish Final. How good would that be for this tournament and for Irish Squash? But we will have to wait and see, because Laura and Vanessa will definitely have some say in the matter.

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