The home contingent saw mixed fortunes in yesterday’s first of a split-second round draw of the Allam British Open 2013.
Sarah-Jane Perry came painfully close to scalping another seeded player in the first match of round two, with the newly capped England international unable to convert a two-game lead over Kasey Brown of Australia.
The 22-year-old, who defeated seventh seed Low Wee Wern in yesterday’s opener, continued her strong form into round two. The Englishwoman played well to the front of the court, allowing her opponent no opportunity to find a consistent rhythm, and took an impressive two-game lead. Facing an impending loss, Brown made an effort to push forward, depriving Perry time on the tee and forcing errors from the younger player.
This seemed to have the desired effect, and with the attacking threat of Perry somewhat neutralised compared to the opening games, the Australian world No.12 gained a foothold and drew level at 2-all.
The fifth game very close and the scores were tied at 6-all before Brown pulled away with a succession of nicks to hold match ball at 7-10. Buoyed by the home crowd, Perry rallied hard and fought her way back to force a tiebreak, but unfortunate positioning in the final rally handed Brown the stroke and with it, the match.
The Australian told SquashSite after the match: “I went on there thinking that Sarah-Jane hits amazing shots, so I’m going to get in before she does. I made a few mistakes in the first two games, but after that I concentrated on my basic game, and it slowly got better.
Once I got the third game, I guess I relaxed a bit and thought I’d just keep the pressure on and see what would come out of it. Last year I was up 2-0 up, and lost 3-2. So it’s a nice feeling this year to turn it round, and it actually gives me confidence to know that I can!”
Brown will progress to Friday’s quarter-final to face another home hopeful, Alison Waters. Waters quickly ran to a 2-game lead against her opponent, four-time British Open winner Rachael Grinham, with the Australian looking out of sorts. But the former world No.1 cut out the unforced errors that had plagued her earlier points, and she began to mount a respectable comeback against the No.4 seed. Grinham continued to hit her targets at the front and back of the court and Waters, perhaps with one eye already on Friday’s quarter-final, struggled to raise her game, giving away cheap points.
The third and fourth games showed Grinham’s quality as she slowly gained momentum, but her hour-long first round match yesterday was beginning to show. Waters was able to capitalise on her opponents’ flagging legs and close out the tie in 42-minutes.
“It’s a tough court to play on, and Rachael really didn’t get into it at the start,” said Waters afterwards, “but I knew she’d find her range sooner or later.”
“Rachael’s won this four times so I knew she wouldn’t be easy to beat, even when I was 2-0 up. She found her range in the third and fourth and I wasn’t mixing it enough, I was playing too much down the backhand and she took advantage.
“In the fifth I just told myself to stick to basics and keep my length, and I managed to stay in front.”
Joelle King continued the strong form from her opening round into round two at Hull City’s KC Stadium, and demonstrated her title ambitions by dispatching Annie Au in straight games. The No.6 seed proved to be too good on the day, with her powerful well-angled cross-court drives regularly causing Au problems and the 24-year-old could scrape just a handful of points before King ended the contest in straight games.
The New Zealander spoke to SquashSite after her match, saying: “Today I came prepared, and I thought it was going to be colder than it actually was! Annie is lethal with her short game, so I kept her out of her attacking position, and made my lead early.
King will play top seed and four-time British Open champion Nicol David in Friday’s quarter-final round. The Malaysian faced home interest Sarah Kippax, who did well to defeat Natalie Grinham in a 68-minute tie on Tuesday. The world champion David started the match strongly, retrieving to a good length and quickly punishing loose shots. The second was a different contest entirely. The Chester-born Englishwoman returned to court with a strategy and caused problems from the first point with some sensible, tight play. She took her opportunities well at the front of the court and stayed with the Malaysian throughout the game to force a tiebreak. The world No. 21 held game ball at 11-10 but was unable to find the crucial point, before David came back to win 14-12.
Disheartened, Kippax was sucked back into a similar pattern as the first game. Her opponent moved up a gear, winning a succession of points without reply and ran out a relatively untroubled third game to book her quarter-final place.
Speaking to SquashSite after the match, David said: “It’s so good to be back on the glass court, it’s the first time for us here in this setting and we are all pretty excited to be here.
“In the second, Sarah was feeding off the crowd, and was carried by the momentum. I made sure that I took that game and come back stronger in the third.”
The bottom half of the round two draw will continue on Thursday afternoon, streamed live on SquashTV from midday.
Second Round Fixtures:
12:00  Jenny Duncalf (ENG) v Nour El Tayeb (EGY)
14:00  Raneem El Weleily (EGY) v  Madeline Perry (IRL)
18:00  Nour El Sherbini (EGY) v  Omneya Abdel Kawy (EGY)
20:00  Laura Massaro (ENG) v  Dipika Pallikal (IND)
Second Round Results:
 Nicol David (MAS) v Sarah Kippax (ENG) 11-2, 14-12, 11-2
 Joelle King (NZL) v  Annie Au (HKG) 11-5, 11-7, 11-5
 Alison Waters (ENG) bt  Rachael Grinham (AUS) 11-2, 11-4, 8-11, 7-11, 11-4 (42m)
 Kasey Brown (AUS) bt Sarah-Jane Perry (ENG) 8-11, 9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 12-10 (61m)