Seventh-Time Lucky Hutton Conquers Kennedy To Reach British Nationals Final
19 Aug 2023
Ending a career-long run of six defeats to her higher-ranked national rival, Jasmine Hutton overcame top seed Georgina Kennedy at St George's Hill Lawn Tennis Club in Weybridge to reach the British National Championships final for the third time.
World No.8 Kennedy, the 2021 Nationals runner-up, looked a good bet to extend her unbeaten run over defending champion Hutton after a quick-fire first game went in her favour for the loss of two points.
However, fifth seed Hutton responded magnificently in front of her home fans, slowing down the pace and controlling the tempo of the match to suit her. She used her tactical nous to outmanoeuvre Kennedy and displayed some subtle touches and deft flicks - combined with a consistent and accurate length - to take the next three games without reply.
"Georgina was so good in the first, and I was so passive, so I thought there was no way I was going to win it today," said Hutton, the world No.23, afterwards.
"I wanted to be more attacking, to be more like the way I play. I let her dictate that whole first game and I just wanted to take it to her and show her what I can do, so that is what I was trying to tell myself from that second game onwards."
Hutton will face twice champion Tesni Evans, after the Welsh No.1 overcome three-time winner Sarah-Jane Perry in a dramatic five-game battle, winning 11-4, 14-16, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7 after 74 minutes of action.
"I'm really excited," added Hutton. "Me and Tesni get along really well, she's an unbelievable tactician, so I'm really looking forward to it."
Evans - the winner in 2018 and 2019 - had only won eight of 23 matches against Perry coming into the semi-final encounter, but this win has seen her record a fourth straight win over the No.3 seed. The world No.13 will now look to make it three wins out of three against Hutton when they meet in the final.
"My game plan was to come out fast," said Evans.
"It's something I try and do a lot, it doesn't always work, but against a player like SJ, [I had to] try and not let her settle, and that first game was great. Unfortunately, I didn't come on in the second with the same positivity, but that is all credit to SJ because she changed her game plan as well."
The men's climax will be a repeat of the 2022 final after reigning champion Mohamed ElShorbagy and No.2 seed Joel Makin claimed wins over No.7 seed Charlie Lee and No.4 seed Adrian Waller, respectively.
ElShorbagy has made it two finals from two Nationals appearances following an 11-8, 11-8, 11-7 victory over Lee. In doing so, the world No.3 avenged his surprise defeat to Lee at March's Optasia Championship.
"It's always a tough battle whenever you go out on court, especially when it is very hot and humid on court like that," said ElShorbagy.
"In these tough battles, the important thing is to win the last point of the match and I'm just glad that I won and now there is a big battle tomorrow in the final. I'm really excited to be in another final, I'm very excited to be against Joel again. He might not have been very pleased with his season last year, but when you have someone as tough as him, he becomes even more dangerous the year after, I know from experience."
Like ElShorbagy, Makin also reached the final without dropping a game and booked his spot after beating Waller 11-8, 11-9, 11-4. The Welshman will appear in a fourth successive final and won the British Nationals in 2021.
"This is a perfect test this week, but I have said it a few times, this is one I want to win, something I have always wanted to win," Makin said.
"Getting it for the first time was a really big deal for me, so I really want to do it again. I have beaten these guys before and there is no reason I can't do it again. I have got to make sure my squash is sharp from the start. I'm looking forward to the challenge. This is a big one, this is what I play for and what I train for, so I'm excited."