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English Closed success

Hannah Crichton, Jessica Winder and Jackson Holliday plus family members made the near 6 hour journey south to Surrey to take part in the English Closed National competition. Hannah and Jessica produced their best ever finishes in such a high ranking event and can be well pleased with their efforts. Jackson in his first English Closed found the competition a little too good.

Hannah Crichton, Girls under 19's, National ranking 22, seeded 13.

On Friday Hannah played Hannah Shipley (Yorkshire), nat. ranking 37 seeded 19 in her first game, and following her tight 3-2 win over her in the last competition they played was expecting a tough start, and so it proved. Hannah C. started focussed and determined and with an 11/7 winning game, but then lost her length to let Hannah S. take the next two games 11/4, 11/4. Hannah C. re-focused and tightened up but couldn't stop Hannah S. having 4 match balls at 6/10 down. Hannah C. had experience of what to do in this situation having pulled a game back last year from 3/10 down for the match, and set about getting herself level. Hannah S couldn't get the vital point as Hannah C pulled level, and took the neccessary points also to win the tie-break 13/11 to save the match. From the start of the 5th game there was only one outcome and Hannah C. triumphed 11/6 for a well fought out win 3-2. This put Hannah into the 1st to 16th position play-offs.

Fridays Round 2 saw Hannah play Lauren Tamila (Lancashire), nat. ranking 7 seeded 6, and a noted 'battler'. Hannah again took the game to Lauren and started well taking the first 11/7, but as in the morning lost the next 4/11, but if was a different Hannah in the next two games as she took them both 11/4, 11/9, for a great 3-1 victory and the top 8 positions play-offs

In Round 3 on Saturday Chloe Pearson (Warwickshire), nat. ranking 4 seeded 3 stood in Hannah's way, and previous form indicated a comfortable win for Hannah's opponent. This time however Hannah more than matched Chloe, indeed she took more points off her than in any of their previous meetings. Chloe took the first 11/4, but Hannah dug in to worry Chloe in the second and Chloe was relieved to escape with a narrow game win 11/8, the third game saw Hannah fall too far behind as she went for winners, that had it been anyone other than Chloe would probably have been so, but Chloe covers the court so fast nothing is out of reach, and Hannah saw many shots retrieved and hit for winning returns. Hannah lost the third 11/3, but had more than given it her best shot losing 0-3. This put Hannah into the 5th to 8th positions play-offs.

To complete Saturday, Katie Smith (Yorkshire), nat. ranking 3 seeded 2 was Hannah's next opponent, and these two friends put each other to the test in the opening two games. Katie took the first 11/6, but undeterred, Hannah had game ball in the second at 10/9 only to hit the top of the tin on her attempted winner, Katie drew level and with her experience took the game 12/10, but at some cost. It was becoming more apparent that she was now carrying some sort of leg injury picked up when going to pick up one of Hannah's good short shots, and her continuing was in doubt. Hannah was a little dissappointed not to be able to hopefully complete the win as Katie withdrew injured, which was a fair call on her behalf as she was struggling to move comfortably. Hannah therefore won technically 3-0, to put her into the 5th/6th play off game.

Sundays play off game gave Hannah her 4th opponent ranked in the top 7 in England in a row, Sam Ward (Northumbria), nat. ranking 5 seeded 4, was a game too far, despite having only this game today Hannah felt jaded and heavy legged, perhaps not surprisingly, but taking nothing away from Sam who produced some very tight, accurate squash to take the first 2 games 11/1, 11/1. Hannah dug deep and changed her mode of attack in the third game, but it was too little too late, but a good effort none the less to go down 6/11, losing 0-3, to finish 6th overall. Well done Hannah a fantastic achievement!

Jessica Winder, Girls under 17's, nat. ranking 13, seeded10.

Friday first opponent for Jessica was Chloe Harrison (Lancashire), nat. ranking 27 seeded 21, and what on paper should have been a comfortable opener turned into anything but! Chloe is improving with every competition and Jessica just claimed the first two games 11/9, but Chloe wasn't about to roll over and took the third game 11/8 to give Jessica something to think about. Jessica put into practice her thoughts and claimed the match 3-1 with an 11/8 fourth game, this put her into the 1st to 16th position play-offs.

Kip Quiney (Gloucestershire), nat. ranking 6 seeded 6, was Jessicas second game late on Friday, and Jessica opened well with an 11/7 game win, but her level of squash dipped from there and she lost the next two games 8/11, 2/11. Jessica pulled the fourth game her way 11/9 and the last was anybody's as they swapped winning points at will. No surprise then that it went to a tie-break at 10 all, and Jessica came out the victor 14/12 for a great 3-2 win, putting her into the top 8 play-offs.

Saturdays first game was against old foe Lucy Beecroft (Northumbria), nat. ranking 2 seeded 2, and a relatively close set of games ensued. Lucy got on top early and held out to take the first 11/6, an epic struggle for the second was again won by Lucy 14/12 and this somewhat broke Jessicas resistance,  Lucy duly wrapping up the match with an 11/6 third game for a 3-0 win. Jessica was now in the 5th to 8th play-offs.

Home favourite and on her own club courts, Alison Thomson (Surrey), nat. ranking 24 seeded 20, was the 'wild card' in the draw, as a late entry to the junior rankings has her somewhat lower in the rankings than her ability dictates, and so it proved for the last match of Saturdays schedule. Jessica started 'all guns blazing' in an attempt to quieten the noisy partisan crowd and opened up a 4 point lead, but they were her only points as Alison reeled off the next 11 to take the game 11/4. Alison further pushed her advantage in the second, retrieving everything and showing that athleticism can win you points even when all seems lost, taking it 11/7. The third saw Jessica fade slightly as Alison 'motored' about, and it was a classic 'runner' versus 'shot-player' game, where the shot player eventually ran out of ideas at seeing the ball continually coming back at her. Into the tie break it went, but Alison wasn't to be denied and took the third game 13/11 and the match 3-0. Jessica had the 7th/8th play off game to come.

Sundays game was against Lucy Pallet (Warwickshire), nat. ranking 8 seeded 8, and a player that can be a little laid back at times, which if Jessica isn't 'revved up' can be her undoing also at times. So it proved, as they shared a couple of pretty uninspiring games to be level at 1-1, 11/9, 7/11. Cue a stern 'talking-to' from Mother, and it was a more energetic Jessica that emerged for the start of the third game, going on to take that 11/9, and finishing with an 11/3 game to wrap up the match 3-1. Jessica finished 7th overall, well done to you.

Jackson Holliday, Boys under 15's, nat. ranking 41 seeded 32 (lowest entry).

Jackson was up against the odds in his first ever English Closed as the lowest entry, where he was always going to play high seeded players from the start and this was the case, his first opponent being Charlie Lee (Surrey), nat. ranking 8 seeded 8 (finished 6th). Jackson started well but then Charlie 'worked him out', and as the game progressed Jackson found the points harder to claim losing 0-3, 6/11, 3/11, 2/11.

The second game in the knockout draw meant that Jackson needed a win to keep his interest in the competition alive. Standing between Jackson and the end of this competition stood the diminutive Anthony Rogal (Middlesex), nat. ranking 24 seeded 21, a slight player with great court awareness and skill, and he too proved to be too good for Jackson beating him also 3-0, 11/6, 11/7, 11/6 although Jackson was not too far away from getting close to claiming a game. This was a steep learning curve for Jaackson but great 'big competition' experience.

Posted by : John Crichton at 12:03:PM on Tuesday 6 March 2012


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