Daryl Selby and Laura Massaro both upset the favourites in two epic finals at the National Squash Championships 2011 to become National Champions last night.
In a historic evening both players celebrated the best wins of their careers in front of a capacity crowd in Manchester.
Selby thwarted World No.1 Nick Matthew’s bid to win a record-equalling fourth domestic title, the Essex outsider beat world champion Nick Matthew in a marathon 84-minute match
Earlier third seed Laura Massaro celebrated the biggest success of her career when she upset Yorkshire favourite Jenny Duncalf, the world No2, to become the first Lancashire winner of the women’s title in the event’s 36-year-history.
Laura Massaro arrived in Manchester on the back of international success in the USA where she upset three higher-ranked players – including the 14-month-unbeaten world number one Nicol David – to win the biggest Tour title of her career.
Seeded three in the British championship, Massaro reached the final after beating second-seeded Irish opponent Madeline Perry, who she also beat on her journey to the final in Cleveland.
Massaro took the opening game in the final before the world No9 slipped behind as England team-mate Duncalf, ranked two in the world, started to find her rhythm and took the next two games to make it 2-1.
Despite going into the match 3-11 down on their career head-to-head tally, Massaro beat Duncalf last week in Cleveland – and picked up her game to draw level, before completely dominating the decider to come through 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-7, 11-2 after 62 minutes.
“It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it – British National champion,” said the jubilant 27-year-old after her first-time success in her second final since 2008.
“I just kept thinking in that last game ‘keep calm, keep calm, and keep volleying’,” added Massaro, who then paid tribute to her coach Phil Whitlock, a former national champion with whom she has worked for the past year.
“Jenny played so well in that third game – and the fourth was quite tight. But I just got on top of it in the fifth, and that made all the difference.
“What an amazing couple of week it’s been,” said the new champion as she signed autographs for youngsters in the packed National Squash Centre arena.
When asked to explain the difference in her approach to the event this year, Massaro said: “It’s having more belief in myself and my game. And my fitness has also definitely improved.
“It’s knowing that I can do it after what I achieved last week in Cleveland.
“But, believe it or not, I was quite nervous towards the end of the match – thinking about what I had said before the event about wanting my name on that trophy, and that I would be the first Lancashire player to win it!
“It feels really good to have won it at last. My England team-mates Jenny and Alison (Waters) have both done it – and I wanted to be a member of that club.”
And as Massaro walked away from the presentation, passing event posters featuring the 2010 champions, the 2011 champion said: “Does this mean I’ll be on the poster next year?
“That’s maybe the best thing about winning it!”
The packed out crowd barely had time to take a breath because up next was the world No.1 and world champion Nick Matthew versus world No.10 Daryl Selby, few would have predicted the match that was about to unfold.
After being dominated by the Yorkshireman in the opening game of the men’s final, world No10 Selby fought back to draw level as Matthew dropped his first game of the tournament. The crowd, expecting a Matthew win, watched in amazement as the evenly-contested match moved into a fifth game.
Both players had leads in the decider, but an uncharacteristic series of errors by the defending champion saw Selby pull away from 6-7 down to win 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7 – with Matthew calling his final ball down and shaking Selby’s hand.
“I feel I played really well – but I had to play really well against the world number one,” said the 28-year-old from Witham. “I knew I had a chance. I feel I raised my game to his level.
“In fact I feel I played a phenomenal match. I’m 10 in the world, and results like this show that I can go higher. Hopefully this can be a catalyst to move on.
“Is it the best win of my career? I should say so, when you look at the names on this trophy – Nick Matthew, James Willstrop, Peter Nicol, Jonah Barrington ….. it’s an amazing list of names. And there’s Del Harris, the last Essex man to win the title (in 1989),” Selby continued.
“I feel I deserved to win – I matched him physically and turned the pressure back on him,” concluded the new men’s champion.
A downcast Matthew acknowledged that his opponent had been the better player: “He didn’t give me anything – it was almost error-free squash. I had my chances – but when he came back he took his chances better than I did. He played better than me.
“I wanted so much to win that fourth title.”
Regional Manager – East
Cambridge CB1 2ES