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Tesni Evans and James Willstrop are the 2019 British National Champions

Willstrop and Evans capture British National titles

England’s James Willstrop and Wales’ Tesni Evans prevailed on finals day at the AJ Bell British National Squash Championships in Nottingham today.
 
Yorkshire’s James Willstrop held off a stern challenge from second seed Daryl Selby to claim his third championship title with a 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7 victory.
  
The pair traded points up to 5-5 in the opening game, Willstrop eventually closing it out to take the lead in the match with an 11-5 win.
 
Selby seized control of the second game, racing into a 7-0 lead but Willstrop fought back strongly. He levelled at 7-7, but couldn’t stop Selby from levelling the match 11-7.

James Willstrop (fore) and Daryl Selby in action in the final

The tournament’s No.2 seed won 11 of the next 12 points to flip the second game on its head, levelling the match with his first game ball to tie the match at one game all.
 
The third game was closely fought and tense, but Willstrop reclaimed the lead in the match with an 11-5 win, again seizing the initiative with his first game ball.
 
Selby had pulled up in pain at the end of the third game but his belligerence showed no sign of waning, both players having to earn every point in a fourth game of true quality.
 
It was anybody’s game with Willstrop 7-6 up and grinding his way towards victory, but the mutual respect between the players was clear even with the stakes at their highest.

Willstrop’s quality and experience shone through winning with his second match ball, the watching crowd having been treated to a true exhibition of a final.

“It’s lovely. To achieve a big title like that with so many big players is fantastic. My body got through it,” said Harrogate-based Willstrop.
 
“It’s a huge title and a very special thing to be able to achieve, so I’m very, very happy. In a sport like squash, it’s not an easy sport to keep playing when you’re old, and historically speaking we are old squash players.”
 
In the women’s final, defending champion Tesni Evans retained her crown with a dominant straight-games victory over fourth seed Emily Whitlock.

Tesni Evans (r) and Emily Whitlock in the British Nationals final

Third seed Evans became the first Welsh player to win the tournament in 2018 and never looked like relinquishing her title this time around, winning 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 in 31 minutes.
  
The World No.11 was the early aggressor in the match and took the first game in dominant fashion, winning the last eight points to take it 11-3.
 
The second game had three periods to it. Evans took a 6-0 lead, before Whitlock rallied to level the game at 6-6. The Welshwoman would go on to win the next five points, though, to double her advantage in the match.

The final game had a more back-and-forth feel to it as Whitlock fought tooth and nail, but Evans’ quality showed as she forced her way through to an 11-5 win.

“It’s pretty special. It makes it even more special that I can defend it and take it back to Wales, that makes it even better,” said Cardiff-born Evans.
 
“Last year was amazing to win it and I definitely didn’t think I’d be standing here after winning it again.
 
“I tried to play as fast as I could and take the ball as early as I could and I think it maybe took her a little bit by surprise. I’m just happy with how I played because I can’t play much better than that, it was perfect.”
 
AJ Bell British National Squash Championships 2019 – Finals Results
[1] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [2] Daryl Selby (ENG) 3-1: 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7 (60m)
[3] Tesni Evans (WAL) bt [4] Emily Whitlock (ENG) 3-0: 11-3, 11-6, 11-5 (31m)

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