England Celebrate European Championship Double
England successfully retained their titles in the European Team Squash Championships after a 3/0 men’s victory over France and a 2/1 women’s win over Ireland in the 40th staging of the European Squash Federation event at the Sportpark Nord in Nürnberg, Germany.
But the favourites were taken the full distance by third-seeded Ireland in the women’s final after Belfast’s Madeline Perry, ranked three in the world, fought back from 2/1 down to beat world No2 Jenny Duncalf 13-11, 7-11, 3-11, 11-7, 11-8.
But British champion Laura Massaro steered the England ship back on course by beating Aisling Blake 11-1, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, before Londoner Alison Waters, runner-up to her team-mate in February’s National Championship, clinched victory by defeating Laura Mylotte 11-2, 11-8, 11-2.
While England were celebrating their 34th European title since 1978, there was also cause for celebration in the Irish camp. The team’s surprise appearance in the final gave Ireland their best finish since 1989.
Top seeds England lined up against cross Channel rivals France in the men’s final for the 12th time since 2000.
Experienced fourth string Daryl Selby gave his team the best start with an 11-3, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9 win over 22-year-old Frenchman Gregoire Marche.
Fierce rivals James Willstrop and Gregory Gaultier then took to the court for their seventh meeting in the last seven months. But since the first of the first of those, Englishman Willstrop has become world number one – and the Yorkshireman had to play like the best player in the world to see off world No3 Gaultier 11-3, 8-11, 11-6, 11-1 to give England a 2/0 lead.
Londoner Peter Barker then clinched the title after a straightforward 11-7, 11-5, 11-7 win over Mathieu Castagnet.
The victory marks England’s 20th success in a row – and the 37th in total since the inaugural championships in 1976.
Hosts Germany beat Scotland 3/1 in the play-off for third place to achieve their best finish since 1994. But Scotland, the sixth seeds, were also celebrating their best finish since reaching the final in 1999.
Germany lost out in the women’s third place play-off to France – but still recorded their best finish for five years.
Wales, who gained promotion into the elite championship from Division 2 last year, lost out to second seeds Netherlands in the women’s fifth place play-off – but not only cemented their place in the top division for next year but also celebrated this best finish since 1988.
Denmark, also in the elite event this year after success in Division 2 last year, finished in sixth place in the men’s championship after losing the playoff to Italy. But the Danes, who have been out of the top eight since 2003, return home after achieving their best finish since 1976!
The 2012 Division 2 championships saw Spain and Switzerland gain promotion in the men’s event and Czech Republic and Belgium in the women’s.
The men’s qualifiers will both ensure top eight status next year for the first time since 2008, while Czech Republic can look forward to a top eight finlsh in next year’s women championship for the first time since 2006.
RESULTS: European Team Championship, Nürnberg, Germany
1 ENGLAND bt 2 FRANCE 3/0
Daryl Selby bt Gregoire Marche 11-3, 11-13, 11-9, 11-9
James Willstrop bt Gregory Gaultier 11-3, 8-11, 11-6, 11-1
Peter Barker bt Mathieu Castagnet 11-7, 11-5, 11-7
Nick Matthew v Thierry Lincou (match not played)