Thursday, 16 February 2012

Best of British

Every February the best in Britain come to Manchester where for the past 10 or more years the Senior British Closed has been held for both men and women. An event which year on year features some of the best players in the world, this year was no different as the mens draw featured the top two players in the world in Nick Matthew and James Willstrop.

But that was the main draw and I wasn't ranked high enough to get into that outright, I first had to fight my way through qualification which in itself is a tough task. Over 50 players all fighting it out for 8 qualifying slots which then put you into the main draw and potentially the chance to go toe to toe with some of the best players in the world.

Although seeded to qualify I knew it wouldn't easy first up was Liam Gutcher of Northumbria who had already come through one match. I on the Sunday night before a Monday match to avoid any potential risks posed by the weather. I had seen Liam play before at last years under 23 tournament in Huntington and I knew if I gave him time and space he is well capable of hitting any number of winners. The seedings suggested he was expected to lose meaning there was little pressure on him which is often a dangerous combination. Luckily I managed to get into it quickly and assert my authority winning in just over 20mins 11/3 11/3 11/1.

Getting off the court as quickly as possible is vital in tournaments especially when you are scheduled for two matches in one day. When I came off court I noticed my potential opponents for the evening match were still running each other around. Eventually the winner was Greg Lobban a young pro the same age as me and a Scottish international.

Needless to say I was up for a battle and was excited at the prospect of getting to play one of the top seeds. After his morning exploits I felt he may tire a little so tried to give nothing cheap away but at the same time not be too negative still using all four corners to work him.

I started well getting a few points lead but was pegged back to 8 all, but managed to close out the game 11/8. Now over any match nerves I felt like I would grow into the game but to my opponents credit he came out the stronger in the second and took a large lead which I was not able to recover losing 11/6. The next game was vital as I need to get back into the game and take back the momentum we were very close around 5 all and after a few lets I managed to break away and take the game 11/7. The fourth game was similar close in the early stages then I felt maybe his morning match took its toll and I closed it out to win the match 3/1 in 50minutes.

This was my first time of reaching the main draw in two attempts and I was pleased with the way I had played so far. But I had an even tougher test ahead as I got my wish and was drawn to play the reigning champion and world No.10 Daryl Selby the next day. I made sure to prepare well by warming down and and getting the right nutrition in.

The morning of the match I popped in to see the physio to look at one or two areas I had been struggling with over the past few weeks but game time soon came around. Playing such high ranking opponent is exciting but also daunting and in the opening stages it showed and Daryl had me running round like a headless chicken. I managed to salvage a bit of pride though with a late run of points to lose 11/7. I felt I to often got stuck behind him and therefore opened the court up to much. In the second I went on there with the aim to get in front and try and dictate the play more. It seemed to work as I levelled it at 1 game all winning the second 11/7. Although after catching him slightly off guard in that second I wasn't given a second chance and he took the next two games 11/5.

Overall though a successful tournament I achieved my seeding and qualified and put in a good performance against a quality opponent.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, you must be well pleased to take a game off Daryl - well done #onwardsandupwards