Quarter-finals day at the National Squash Centre saw seven of the top seeds safely progress to the semi-finals, all four in the women’s draw and the top three in the men’s plus Chris Simpson, who ousted 3/4 seeded Greg Lobban.
QUARTER-FINALS (in playing order)
 Laura Massaro (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Emily Whitlock (Eng) 11-5, 11-6, 11-6 (27m)
[3/4] Daryl Selby (Eng) 3-0 [Q] Emyr Evans (Wal) 11-9, 11-9, 11-8 (38m)
[3/4] Tesni Evans (Wal) 3-0 [5/8] Jenny Duncalf (Eng) 11-9, 11-5, 11-8 (31m)
 James Willstrop (Eng) 3-1 Richie Fallows (Eng) 6-11, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7 (49m)
[3/4] Alison Waters (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Fiona Moverley (Eng) 11-9, 11-8, 11-5 (29m)
[5/8] Chris Simpson (Ggy) 3-0 [3/4] Greg Lobban (Sco) 11-8, 11-1, 11-6 (35m)
 Sarah-Jane Perry (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Millie Tomlinson (Eng) 11-9, 11-2, 11-1 (24m)
 Nick Matthew (Eng) 3-0 [5/8] Josh Masters (Eng) 11-7, 11-5, 11-5 (36m)
Matthew 3-0 Masters
Bristol-based Masters held his own with Matthew in the opening stages of the first two games but the pressure that Matthew exerts started to show as the top seed pulled away at the end of each.
He continued that momentum at the start of the third, winning through to his 12th consecutive semi-final.
“I was struggling to get a rhythm at the start,” said Matthew, “but that’s what Josh does and he’s very good at it, I’ve taken on two young guns with nothing to lose.
“I felt more comfortable on there than yesterday, the court is a bit different and it takes getting used to but I managed to get to grips with it.”
Perry 3-0 Tomlinson
The second-seeded 2015 champion threatened to run away with the first game as she opened up an 8-4 lead, but Tomlinson fought back, levelling at 8-4 and was perhaps a little unlucky to lose the game 11-9.
There was no luck involved in Perry’s performance in the next two though, as she simply overpowered her opponent, firing in powerful winning drives and deceptive winning boasts.
“Millie played well in the first,” said Perry, “and I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I told myself it was time to step up the court and take the game to her, and it worked very well.”
Simpson 3-0 Lobban
Guernsey’s Chris Simpson, after missing last year’s event through injury, made it through to a third semi-final in a row as he beat Scottish 3/4 seed Greg Lobban in three contrasting games. The first was a tough 15-minutes affair, Simpson emerging the victor courtesy of a run of points at the end.
In the second Lobban seemed increasingly frustrated, almost uninterested, in affairs as Simpson raced through 11-1. Lobban competed well in patches in the third, but again several runs of points went quickly Simpson’s way, and soon enough he was through to the semis.
“I was really looking forward to coming back,” said Simpson. “The first game was really tough, I was happy to get that one. In the second I noticed that something was up with Greg physically, but I had to keep pushing. Delighted to be into another semi-final.”
Waters 3-0 Moverley
Waters got the better of a quickfire first game, then was the controlling force for the majority of the next two games. Moverley got close on the scoreboard but Waters, volleying crisply into the corners when given the chance, wasn’t in the mood to be caught.
“I’ve been playing well but I knew Fiona was a strong opponent,” said Waters. “So I wanted to make sure I was up for the match, get into it early, step up the court and volley … and it seemed to work ok today!”
Willstrop 3-1 Fallows
Two time champion James Willstrop recovered from a game down to see off the challenge of unseeded youngster Richie Fallows, but it was quite a challenge. Fallows played well from the start of the match and deservedly took the lead as he maintained his form throughout the opening game.
Willstrop managed to wrest control back from the start of the second, and held it for the next three games with Fallows, still playing well, becoming increasingly rattled, culminating in a conduct stroke for dissent at 5-6 in the fourth (then receiving a let he didn’t ask for on the next point!).
James moves into his 12th Nationals semi-final where he will face Daryl Selby.
“Experience over youth? If you say so,” James relied to MC Andrew Nickeas. “We’re all just squash players training for this so you have to be able to manage. I’ve got a few hours in on court over the years and you’re going to learn to be able to use that experience at times.
Evans 3-0 Duncalf
Appearing in her 20th consecutive Nationals, two-time champion Jenny Duncalf and 3/4 seed Tesni Evans contested an entertaining women’s match, but it was the Welsh number one who seemed to have the marginal edge.
Evans led throughout a close first game, took advantage of a good opening to the second, and even though she lost a 3-0 start in the first, still managed to close out the match in three.
“Jenny has so much experience, and such skills,” said Tesni. “You have to try to read her, but it’s difficult so I’m really happy to get through that in three.”
Evans moves into her second semi-final, where she will face Laura Massaro in a repeat of their World Champs clash here in December which saw Tesni claim one of her biggest wins.
2011 champion Daryl Selby faced young Welsh qualifier Emyr Evans, and although the experienced Englishman took the opening two games, he was pushed hard all the way by an impressive effort from Evans.
Emyr took a 6-2 lead in the third, but Selby fought back, levelling at 7-all and closing out the three-game win which takes his to a fourth semi-final in a row and seventh in all (he missed last year with injury).
“That was tough, he’s improving all the time and it’s great to see so many youngsters coming through,” said Selby. “Happy to reach another semi-final, but there’s one player who’s tended to dominate this event, let’s see how it goes …”
In a repeat of last year’s semi-final, top seed and defending champion Laura Massaro – surely on a high after today’s announcement of England’s Commonwealth Games squad – continued her quest for a fifth national title against Emily Whitlock (who turned 24 yesterday).
After a good start from Whitlock in the first, Massaro recovered to level at 5-all and was for the most part in control for the rest of the match, with Emily paying the price for too many errors, especially in the third.
“I got myself into a few good leads,” said Massaro, who advances to her 12th semi-final in a row.
“Emily came back well several times, but I always seemed to have enough points in hand.”