British duo take the titles in Coronation London Open squash tournament at Cumberland
- Credit: Archant
British talent shone at the Coronation London Open tournament at the weekend, as home-grown players won both the men’s and women’s competitions.
Adrian Grant, the third seed, beat fellow Brit Chris Simpson at Hampstead’s Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club on Sunday, becoming the first Londoner to win his home event, while Emily Whitlock triumphed in the women’s final.
Grant, who is ranked 23rd in the world, had to come from behind against his younger rival Simpson, losing the first game 11-7 before rallying to take the next three games 11-9, 11-4, 11-6 and claiming around £3,000 in prize money.
The hour-long battle ended with Grant winning the 20th trophy of his illustrious career – an achievement which only 11 other players have equalled or beaten.
Grant, 33, said that his opponent – who is ranked just two places below him – made him work for the victory.
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“He’s beaten a lot of people in the top 20, so I was wary about him,” he said. “I had to focus 100 per cent. In the first game he came out quicker than me, but I think as the match progressed, I got stronger and stronger.”
Simpson agreed that the match “was a bit of a game of two halves”, adding: “It was a real battle and he snuck it.
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“I’d love to have won it, obviously, but I exceeded my seeding and finished the season on a high.”
Meanwhile, Whitlock won the women’s final in straight sets, more than living up to her status as the second seed in notching up an eighth tour title in her first full senior year.
Whitlock, 19, crushed fourth seed Coline Aumard of France 11-8, 12-10, 11-5 in just 37 minutes, earning £1,100 of prize money in the process.
She was pleased by her progress, saying: “The final went well for me. It was a nice clean match and it was nice to play Coline again.
“Last time we played was nearly two years ago and she’s improved so much, so it was good to get a feel of how I’ve improved too!”
The Cheshire-born teenager finished 2013 ranked 24th in the world, and she feels the title was a good step towards achieving her ambition “to be the best”.
“It’s nice to end the year on a high,” she said. “I won my first tournament of the year [my last ever British Junior Open] and my last, but in between I’ve done as well as my seeding or ranking, or better.
“It was my first proper year as a senior player with no junior tournaments, so I think I’ve done pretty well.”
Tournament director Zubair Khan told Ham&High Sport: “The tournament was a great success, and there was a good turnout every day.
“Around 90 people came to the final, and there were 80 to 100 people watching the matches every day. The crowds got very excited and they saw top-quality squash. It was hard work but I feel great about it.”
Khan, a former world No8, also hailed the growing popularity of the event, and he has big plans for its future, while he is also backing squash’s bid to become an Olympic sport.
“The tournament is getting bigger,” he said. “I want to turn it into the British Open, because that tournament should be in London – and in future I want the London Open to be televised.
“The English standard is very good. I’m trying to promote squash and get it into the big one – the Olympics.”
Coronation London was sponsoring the event for the third year, with JC Flowers & Co LLP providing their backing for the first time.
Aspect Capital, Heathcote & Ivory and Wolfe Property also sponsored the competition, which was running for a sixth year.