Squash: National sides retain team titles in Italy – Willstrop

James Willstrop.

James Willstrop.

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It was back to team squash last weekend for the annual European Team Championships Division One, played in the eastern Italian resort of Riccione, a pleasant backdrop and a familiar venue nowadays.

Riccione hosted the European Club Championships in September and this same event in 2007.

Violent thunderstorms and rain put paid to any ideas about beach-side relaxation, not that there would have been time for such jollities but it’s not everyday you get to play a tournament by the sea.

The squash lived up to expectations. England played France in both the men’s and women’s finals on the all glass court and World Champion Laura Massaro lost 3-1 to the French world number 5 Camille Serme. Sarah Jane Perry levelled matters, beating Cyrielle Peltier 3-0 and Alison Waters beat Laura Pomportes 3-0 in the deciding rubber of the three match tie to retain the title.

The men’s final, played over four ties, was drawn out. At two string, against Mathieu Castagnet, I clawed back a 2-1 deficit to win a physical match. World numbers one and two Greg Gaultier and Nick Matthew then went head to head, the Englishman winning 3-1 to give England a 2-0 lead. Peter Barker needed to win to regain the title for the 20th consecutive time, which he did, 3-2, leaving Daryl Selby free to relax.

The biggest event of the year after the worlds, the British Open, in Hull, starting on Monday. Tickets are available from www.britishopensquash.net

James Willstrop, lefvt, in action against Mohamed ElShorbagy in Dubai. Picture courtesy of PSA

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