Nick Matthew & James Willstrop Line Up In Historic British Championships

The 2012 British National Squash Championships, from 7-12 February (following qualifying the previous two days), will be celebrating its 16th successive year in Manchester and its tenth appearance at the National Squash Centre, the unique venue which was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and boasts a permanently-sited all-glass court.
 
More than 340 players will converge on Manchester, not only for the two main open events but a full range of men’s and women’s Masters events, from Over-35 to Over-75.
 
James Willstrop, the world number one from Leeds, will be top seed in the men’s championship, while fellow Yorkshire player Jenny Duncalf, who celebrated her 22nd successive month as world No2 this month, will be favourite for the women’s event.
 
Nick Matthew, three times winner of the National title (in 2006, 2009 & 2010), topped the world rankings throughout 2011.  But the 31-year-old from Sheffield was replaced this month by fellow Yorkshireman Willstrop – giving England the top two players in the world rankings for the first time since 2004.
 
With two national titles to his credit (in 2007 & 2008), 28-year-old Willstrop boasts four appearances in the men’s final, while Matthew followed his third title two years ago by reaching the final last year – but suffered a surprise defeat to Essex’s Daryl Selby.
 
Defending champion Selby, the world No11, will be the No4 seed next month, with his county compatriot Peter Barker, ranked four places higher in the world, seeded three.
 
Jenny Duncalf will be seeking her third title after winning the women’s championship in 2007 & 2009.  But the 29-year-old from Harrogate has finished as runner-up for the last two years – in 2010 to Londoner Alison Waters, this year’s eighth seed, and last year to local star Laura Massaro, the 28-year-old from Preston who became Lancashire’s first ever winner of the women’s title.
 
After her Nationals’ success, title-holder Massaro went on to enjoy a magnificent run on the women’s international tour – finishing the year at a career-high world No3.
 
But the player seeded to meet favourite Duncalf in the final is Ireland’s Madeline Perry who, despite winning her 13th Irish national title in December, has yet to reach a British final.  Currently ranked three in the world, Perry beat Duncalf en-route to reaching this month’s Women's World Series Finals final and could become Ireland’s first ever British champion.
 
Men’s top 8 seeds:
1 James Willstrop (Yorks), 2 Nick Matthew (Yorks), 3 Peter Barker (Essex), 4 Daryl Selby (Essex), 5 Adrian Grant (Kent), 6 Tom Richards (Surrey), 7 Chris Ryder (Herts), 8 Chris Simpson (Hants)
 
Women’s top 8 seeds:
1 Jenny Duncalf (Yorks), 2 Madeline Perry (Ireland), 3 Laura Massaro (Lancs), 4 Sarah Kippax (Cheshire), 5 Emma Beddoes (Warwicks), 6 Victoria Lust (Beds), 7 Lauren Briggs (Essex), 8 Alison Waters (Middx)
 
Tickets for the British National Squash Championships – Manchester 2012 can be booked online at www.isportgroup.com/ticketing, or by telephone on 0844-870 0000 - or for further help and information email: info@isportgroup.com
 
For more general details of the 2012 National Championships, please visit the official website:  www.nationalsquashchamps.co.uk

For the first time in the event’s 38-year history, the two top players in the world will battle for Britain’s premier squash title when James Willstrop and Nick Matthew line up in next month’s British National Championships in Manchester.