Squash: Day Of Comebacks As England Capture Both Titles At European Team Championships
2022 European Team Champions
England’s women’s and men’s squash teams put in excellent performances against Wales and France, respectively, to deservedly take both titles at the European Team Championships.
In the women’s final, England came from behind to recapture the title after wins for Georgina Kennedy and Lucy Turmel overturned an opening match defeat for Sarah-Jane Perry.
In a mammoth first game, first strings Perry and Tesni Evans traded the lead, with neither player able to decisively pull clear.
There were chances for Perry to take a one-game lead when she had game balls at 10-9 and 11-10. Evans, however, was able to save both, eventually taking the first game 14-12 before taking both the second and third games 11-6 to give Wales a crucial lead.
(L_R)Georgina Kennedy, Jasmine Hutton, Sarah-Jane Perry, Lucy Turmel
After Perry’s defeat, Kennedy provided the perfect response for England against Emily Whitlock as the World No.9 flew out of the blocks to check Wales’ momentum with an 11-2 first game win.
Kennedy continued to impress in the following games, dominating the court on the way to an 11-6 win in the second and then bringing England level with an 11-8 win in the third.
With the scores level, Turmel’s match against 37-year-old former World No.188 Stacey Gooding was a winner-takes-all clash.
Despite her inexperience on the international stage, the 22-year-old World No.20 showed no signs of nerves, putting in a flawless performance to deliver the title for England with a brutal 11-4, 11-1, 11-2 win.
There were similar theatrics in the men’s final, where entertaining wins for Adrian Waller, Nathan Lake and James Willstrop meant England retained the title they won in Birmingham in 2019.
Waller got England’s title defence off to a rousing start by recovering from two games down to shock Gregoire Marche in the opening match.
The 32-year-old faced an enormous task after dropping the first two games 11-7 and 11-8, with Marche consistently frustrating his attacks.
Despite being on the ropes, Waller levelled with a thrilling rearguard action, taking the third game 11-7 before saving two match balls to take the fourth game 12-10.
The energy-sapping fourth game appeared to take more from Marche than Waller, and the World No.25 gave England a vital victory with a relatively straightforward 11-6 win in the fifth.
England’s position was then strengthened by a near-perfect performance from second string Lake. The World No.35 picked up where Waller had left off, swatting aside Sebastien Bonmalais 3-0 in 39 minutes with 11-3, 11-3 and 11-8 wins.
In a hotly-anticipated third match, England’s former World No.1 Willstrop went toe-to-toe with France’s former World No.1 Gregory Gaultier.
After ‘the Marksman’ took the first two games 11-8, 11-9, ‘the French General’ struck back with an 11-7 win in the third to give France a lifeline.
The experienced Willstrop, though, quickly reacted to ensure there would be no repeat of Waller’s earlier heroics, fighting back to take the fourth game 11-7 to guarantee that England would finish the day as men’s and women’s European champions.
Afterwards, Willstrop paid tribute to his England teammates: "I just want to say a little word about our team. I've played a lot of Teams over the years and I'm not going to get too sentimental, but you've been a right laugh! The bench has been a sheer pleasure to be part of and there was awesome support at the end there.”
Perry said: “On a personal note, although I'm actually a mother myself now, these guys are kind of my kids as well, in size and age! They've literally been amazing this week, all three debutants to this event. (I've) been trying to show them the ropes and everything but I'd said that until today, you don't really see the true European Team Championships. I think it's fair to say you've all had a fantastic day and they're definitely looking forward to the party later!"
Women’s Final: England v Wales
Tesni Evans bt Sarah-Jane Perry 3-0: 14-12, 11-6, 11-6 (33m)
Georgina Kennedy bt Emily Whitlock 3-0: 11-2, 11-6, 11-8 (30m)
Lucy Turmel bt Stacey Gooding 3-0: 11-4, 11-1, 11-2 (17m)
Men’s Final: England v France
Adrian Waller bt Gregoire Marche 3-2: 7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6 (72m)
Nathan Lake bt Sebastien Bonmalais 3-0: 11-3, 11-3, 11-8 (39m)
James Willstrop bt Gregory Gaultier 3-1: 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7 (45m)