Although she announced her retirement from the tour back in April, Atkinson, now living in Leeds, couldn’t pass up the chance to play in a tournament so close to home.
The first round saw seven of the top eight seeds move through to the quarter finals. Top seeds Atkinson and England’s Lauren Selby beat Dutch qualifiers Cigany Silevis and Melissa Meulenbelt in straight games.
Welsh seventh seed Tesni Evans was the only other seed to make it through in straight games, easing past England junior Brogan Lane. Seventh seed Laura Hill and eighth seed Carrie Ramsay both came out on top in their all English clashes. Hill looked in trouble against Zephanie Curgenven, dropping the first game and facing game balls in the second but she fought back and gradually wore down Curgenven with her consistent game. Ramsay had a real fight on her hands with former British Junior Champion Rachel Willmott. After being down in both the first two games, Ramsay managed to build a two game lead, only to see Willmott force a decider. Willmott started strongly in the fifth with Ramsay suffering from illness, but the Yorkshire girl dug in deep and eventually took the match after 72 minutes. Qualifier Sarah-Jane Perry caused the upset of the day, coming from a game down to outplay Austrian third seed Birgit Coufal.
The last two games were won by French pair Maud Duplomb and Celia Allamargot. Fourth seed Duplomb won a topsy turvy match fiver setter with compatriot Chloe Mesic. Allamargot let her concentration slip in the second game against Sandra Polak but was always in control, coming through in four games.
The quarter finals featured two upsets along with another comfortable win for the top seed. Tesni Evans had no answer to the skill and experience of Atkinson. Duplomb justified her seeding with a tough four game win over Ramsay. Ramsay had her chances but the effects of the previous day’s long match seemed to take it’s toll. Perry continued to take out the seeds, this time beating Allamargot in a fast paced hard hitting encounter. The final match of the day was the closest and saw Hill edge second seed Selby in a high quality match, featuring contrasting styles. Hill kept the pressure on throughout and forced Selby into crucial errors. In the second and fourth games Hill had no answer to Selby’s precise shot making. Hill got a strong start in the fifth and this was enough to hold on for victory.
Hill, the British Racketball Champion, was the first through to the final, her first in five years, beating Duplomb in three games. Duplomb led in all three games but it was Hill that managed to find another gear and force the French girl into mistakes. Atkinson was made to work hard for her place in the final, surviving an attacking onslaught from Perry. The pair matched each other pace for pace in the first two games but it was Atkinson who took them, both 11-9. Perry came out on fire in the third and hit a number of winners, along with some uncharacteristic errors from Atkinson to take the game with ease. The roles were reversed in the fourth and Perry found herself on the back foot as the top seed found her shots to seal the win.
The final was a great match up between two of the most experienced players on the tour. Atkinson and Hill, both 35, had met once before, with Atkinson winning handily. This time it was Hill who got the better start, pushing Atkinson to the front of the court. Atkinson fought back, but Hill managed to convert on her first game ball. From then on it was Atkinson who was in command, working Hill to all corners of the court and the local girl found herself on the losing end of the majority of the points. Atkinson finished the match off in style with a backhand cross court volley nick off the serve.
A great week of squash in Nottingham and we look forward to seeing the event back, bigger and better next year!