Squash: Jackman takes the prize

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The Independent Online
CASSIE JACKMAN, the top seed, beat Fiona Geaves 9-3, 9-3, 9-4 to win the SRA English National title at The Village, Cheadle, yesterday. The win augurs well for the 20-year-old's chances of reaching the top of the world rankings this year.

It took only 32 minutes for the young favourite to drive and volley her way past a creative opponent who had eliminated the British national champion, Sue Wright. Jackman's progress faltered only briefly, between 0-6 and 3-6 in the second game, and at the start of the third. The rest of the time she showed the mixture of force and flair which many believe can make her the world No 1.

'I am glad to get this under my belt before the British Open,' Jackman said. 'I think I have a good chance to reach the final of that.'

Jackman also showed she was thinking more clearly than she had while struggling in the semi-final against Suzanne Horner, three times a British national finalist. She varied the direction of her volleys more, and lobbed more frequently instead of getting drawn into the front-court rallies.

Phil Whitlock, the England captain who helped initiate both the boycott by 17 men and the subsequent compromise, and was alone among the leading men in participating, won the men's title. The local man beat Mark Allen, a member of England's 1991 world junior title winning squad, 9-1, 9-7, 9-1.

Whitlock said: 'In some ways I feel I let the other players down but I also feel I made the right decision by playing. I've had some silly threats but I expected that. I also expect some resentment, but I hope not for long.'

Whitlock's prize was pounds 1,000, exactly half the sum guaranteed to the bottom man in the Super Series final in Zurich. The England No 1 Peter Marshall won pounds 8,000 in that event by finishing fifth after beating the world No 5, Tristan Nancarrow, 15-13, 15-8, 15-9.