Luck of the Irish!

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International SPORT Group British Open, Manchester England

10 – 14 September 2009

BY Arthur Curran

Day 5: Women’s Semi Finals

Semi Finals: Ireland & Australia takes on England!

 

 

Rachel and Jenny

Rachael Grinham (AUS) (2) vs. Jenny Duncalf (ENG) (4)

Rachael has been at the top of this sport for quite a number of years now, 3 times a winner of this British Open title, a former World Champion and World No. 1, with lots of big match experience. Jenny has come to the forefront only in the last couple of years or so, but is the current British National Champion and last year reached the final of this tournament losing only to the great Nicol David. Their record against each other over the last six and a half years in major tournaments shows six straight wins for Rachael between Feb 2003 and October 2007, but then Jenny won the next four between May 2008 and May 2009, including the final of the Sharm El Sheik Open last December,  however Rachael won their last meeting, defeating Jenny in the quarter final of the Malaysian Open just last month. So we were obviously expecting a great close match, and this we did.

Jenny serves to Rachael—notice the full house crowd in the back wall stand and in the gallery.

Jenny serves to Rachael—notice the full house crowd in the back wall stand and in the gallery.

The first game started off very tentatively as they both felt their way into the match, but Jenny opened a slight lead at 6-3, Rachael pulled back a couple but Jenny then went 7-5 ahead. But back came Rachael taking four straight points to take game ball at 10-7, although Jenny took the next point she finished the next rally with a shot into the tin to give Rachael the first game 11-8.

Get the ball, Jenny!

Get the ball, Jenny!

In the second Jenny took the first two points, Rachael then took four straight but Jenny pulled it back to level at 4-4. Rachael then put a lovely series of rallies together to lead 9-4, Jenny took one point but Rachael took the next to have game ball at 10-5. Jenny did save a couple of game balls but then a stroke call in favour of Rachael gave her the game 11-7.

Jenny seemed a little out of sorts for some reason, not playing to her usual standards and making several unforced errors, and Rachael took advantage of this to take a 5-1 lead. However Jenny is never a player to give up and came back with probably her best period of squash in the match taking eight straight points to lead 9-5, Rachael took the next two and Jenny the next one for game ball at 10-7, and although Rachael saved the first game ball Jenny took the next point to win the game 11-8.

In the fourth Rachael took an early 4-1 lead but Jenny fought back to level 4-4,then 5-5, Rachael eased out to 7-5 and Jenny took one to make it  6-8, but at the end of the next rally Jenny asked for a let which was not given by the referees. This visibly upset Jenny and she lost her concentration, allowing Rachael to finish off the game at 11-6, and win the match 3 games to 1. So Rachael became the first player through to the final hoping this could be the year for her to win it for the fourth time.

A smile from Rachael after her win.

A smile from Rachael after her win.

 

Madeline serves.

Alison Waters (ENG) (3) vs. Madeline Perry  (IRL) (5)
The Head-to-head record between these two players over the years is very similar to the earlier match, with Alison just edging the count 6 to 5. But Madeline being the ‘senior player’ beat Alison three times in the opening round of three major tournaments between November 03 and December 04, however Alison, being the up and coming young player beat Madeline in the quarter final at the Kuwait Open in March 05, but then Madeline put Alison out of the Monte Carlo Classic at the semi final stage in November 05. Twelve months later Alison gained revenge in the same tournament beating Madeline at the quarter final stage, and then followed up by winning again in Greenwich at the same quarter final stage. In August of 07 Madeline knocked Alison out of the Singapore Masters in round 1, on her way back from a very serious injury break, but then Alison got the upper hand by winning in the semi final of the Irish Open in Dublin in April 08 and again in the final of the same tournament in the final twelve months later. Their last serious meeting was in May of this year when Alison won 3 games to 1 in the European Team Championships. So now we come to this evening’s match—can Madeline even up the score after beating Nicol last night?—or can Alison edge that extra match in front? We will wait and see.

Alison dashes to the far corner to retrieve.

Alison dashes to the far corner to retrieve.

The first game started as is the usual case with both players sounding each other out, Madeline taking the first two points, Alison the next two, Madeline another two. Then Alison the next three to take a 7-5 lead. Madeline pulled back to level at 7-7, Alison took two points to lead 9-7 then Madeline took three points to lead 10-9 game ball, but Alison saved that one and went on to take the game 12-10.

Alison took an early lead 4-1 in the second, then 5-3. Madeline took the next two to level 5-5, but gave the initiative back to Alison with a ball into the tin and Alison took the next to lead 7-5. Alison then treated Madeline with two consecutive tins to level at 7-7. Madeline took the next but then with a tin from her leveled the score again at 8-8. A stroke to Madeline and another tin from Alison gave Madeline game ball at 10-8 then she served out to win the game 11/8.

The Irish eyes are smiling again from mum and dad.

The Irish eyes are smiling again from mum and dad.

Another fightback coming up? You betcha! Madeline took an early lead 4-2, Alison took three points to lead 5-4, then the score moved evenly to 7-7. A tin from Alison gave Madeline the initiative then with another tin at game ball from Alison, Madeline took the game 11-7 to lead 2 games to 1.

In the fourth Madeline took three points, Alison took three points, Madeline takes three points, 6-3 to Madeline, who then moved on to 9-5. Alison levelled up to 9-9 thanks to an atrocious out of court shot from Madeline on the last rally, but Madeline held her nerve at that point to serve out for the game at 11-9, and the match 3 to 2.

What another fabulous win from the lady from Northern Ireland. She now goes into the final against Rachael Grinham, two of the ‘elder’ ladies in the tournament, thus proving the old adage that there is nothing to beat age and experience, even in this sport. We look forward to a great final tonight.

 

Celebratory hug with mum and dad.

Women’s Semi Finals Result Summary:
Madeline Perry (IRE) (5) bt Alison Waters (ENG) (3) 10/12, 11/8, 11/7, 11/9 (63m)
Rachael Grinham (AUS) (2) bt. Jenny Duncalf (ENG) (4) 11/8, 11/7, 8/11, 11/6 (48m)

Men’s Semi Final Result Summary:
[4] Nick Matthew (ENG)  beat  [6] Peter Barker (ENG) 11/6, 11/5, 11/6.  (48 mins).
[10] James Wilstrop (ENG)  beat  [3] Amr Shabana (EGY) 11/5, 11/6, 11/1. (33 mins).

This brings an all English Final in the men’s tournament with Wilstrop now facing Nick Matthew.

TOMORROW IN THE FINALS:
Nick Mathew (ENG) (4) vs. James Wilstrop (ENG) (10)
Madeline Perry (IRE) (5) vs. Rachael Grinham (AUS) (2)

Check out more photos here on our Facebook Fan Page

DSC_0027Arthur 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 squashsite.co.uk. 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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