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James Willstrop in action

All English Finals at London Open

It’s an all English final in both the Mens and Womens events at the London Open 2021, taking place at The Cumberland Club this week.

Georgina Kennedy in action the US Open

The first semi final of the day saw rising star Georgiana Kennedy defeat South Africa’s Alexandra Fuller in four games. A fast and furious opening game went the way of Kennedy on a tiebreak as Fuller tried to be strong around the middle and take the ball early but couldn’t sustain the pressure to steal the opening game.

The pace of the first game seemed to take its toll on the South African as Kennedy raced through the second and third games quite comfortably to seal her place in the final.

Having been brought up not far from the venue, Kennedy is relishing the opportunity to play so close to home:

“Its really nice, it makes such a difference. A few of my friends came yesterday and my family is here today, it makes such a difference. Its definitely a different experience from being away at an event with other squash players but its so nice having family and friends here.”

[8] Georgina Kennedy (ENG) bt [4] Alexandra Fuller (RSA) 3-0: 13-11, 11-4, 11-1 (33m)

Facing Kennedy in the final will be compatriot Julianne Courtice. Courtice defeated Hong Kong’s The Lok Ho in a tough match with plenty of twists and turns throughout. Courtice got off to the perfect start, finding her rhythm early In the match and taking the first game with relative ease.

As Lok Ho battled back, the match became increasing more difficult for the Englishwoman as she had to dig extremely deep to match her opponents pace and accurate hitting. Courtice was able to hold on in the fourth game coming out on top of some scrappy rallies to make her first final since March 2020.

“Very pleased to get through that one. I had the first two games going in my direction but could feel her coming back at me so I had to deal with that.”

“I had to go for it in the fourth, I had the decision to either back off a little and save myself for a fifth or go all out now and try to get the win in four and thankfully my decision paid off and I managed to get over the line 3-1.”

[3] Julianne Courtice (ENG) bt Tsz Lok Ho (HGK) 3-1: 11-3, 11-8, 9-11, 14-12 (50m)

Tom Richards in action

In the Men’s event, the first semi-final was between two London players Ben Coleman and Tom Richards. Competitive rallies throughout the entire match made for an intriguing battle between the two, Richards just edging a tight first game 11-8.

More of the same opened up the second game until 5-5, when Coleman was on the end of a brutal rally, being dragged from corner to corner by his opponent. After winning this rally, Richards found the rest of the second game fairly comfortable to give himself a deserved 2-0 lead.

Being 2-0 down, Coleman had to respond. He showed signs of this early in the third game before the former World No.12 showed his class and ,with a few errors from his opponent, moved through to his first final since the Irish Open in 2018.

[4] Tom Richards (ENG) bt Ben Coleman (ENG) 3-0: 11-8, 11-5, 11-7 (44m)

It's a third London Open final in four years for James Willstrop as he overcame No.3 seed George Parker at the Cumberland Club.

From the start of the match, Willstrop showed his concentration and class, moving the ball into all four corners of the court to trouble his younger opponent. The opening two games went the way of the tall Yorkshireman, with accurate squash and some help from Parker finding the tin more than he would have liked.

Parker responded however, stepping up the court and taking time away from Willstrop gave him a much needed lifeline in this semi-final and he deservedly claimed the third game. But Willstrop wasn’t to be denied as he counteracted Parkers pace with a mixture of height and pace to regain control of the middle and race to a 10-2 lead, before closing the match out 11-3 in 45 minutes.

Coming straight from Canary Wharf, Willstrop admits its hard to get the balance right between feeling sharp and overdoing it with his body:

“I've been getting better everyday, the matches have been intense but thankfully not too long so I’ve been feeling sharper everyday.”

“Coming from Canary Wharf has beeb testing, I’m not really used to playing four matches In four days, in the top events you’ve either got rest days or now I’m usually only playing one and three matches so four in four days is tough.”

“Really pleased to get past George, he’s been playing some great stuff recently, you know your game is in good shape if your beating Patrick, so just really pleased to stay as concentrated as I did and see the match out.”

[2] James Willstrop (ENG) bt [3] George Parker (ENG) 3-1: 11-3, 11-4, 7-11, 11-3 (45m)

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