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England seal fourth consecutive European Double

Article courtesy of England Squash & Racketball

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Top seeds England completed their fourth successive European Team Championship double in Riccione, Italy, today, but both the men and women were made to battle by France for their titles.

Alison Waters sealed a 2-1 victory in the women’s final after Camille Serme’s win over Laura Massaro had cancelled out Sarah-Jane Perry’s success in the opening rubber, before James Willstrop, Nick Matthew and Peter Barker were pushed to the limit in securing a 3-0 success in the men’s competition.

Perry opened up proceedings with an 11-7, 11-7, 11-5 win over world no.74 Cyrielle Peltier, but France levelled matters when fifth-ranked Serme upset the world champion 11-6, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8.

However, Waters clinched England’s 36th women’s title in 37 attempts when she overpowered 59th-ranked Laura Pomportes 11-2, 11-5, 11-7.

The men, who only beat France on games countback in last year’s final, knew they were going to be in a fight from the start as Willstrop needed five games to repel world no.23 Mathieu Castagnet 11-6, 7-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6.

Next on were old rivals Matthew and Greg Gaultier, respectively two and one in the world, and their match was shaping up into a typically tense affair until Gaultier suffered a knock from Matthew in the back of the calf, with the Yorkshireman leading 2/1 in games but trailing 3-5 in the fourth.

The Frenchman took a 30-minute break in an attempt to recover from the injury, but he couldn’t move properly when the players returned to the court and so Matthew closed out a 9-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7 success.

Barker then wrapped up England’s 39th title from 42 championships and 22nd in a row by outlasting world no.33 Gregoire Marche 8-11, 11-6, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, rendering Daryl Selby’s rubber against Lucas Serme unnecessary.

Matthew tweeted afterwards: “You cannot underestimate how difficult a title this is to win. Proud of the boys & girls yet again.

“France put up a great fight in both finals & players like Mathieu, Greg M & Camille are improving & making it tougher every year.

“In my personal match it was unfortunate for it to end like it did & I hope Greg recovers & is fit for the @BOSquash in a couple of weeks.”

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