Scarlett Smith reports
JUBILANT scenes were witnessed at Hull’s KC Stadium today for the second time in two months as a English player won the Allam British Open women’s final for the first time since 1991.
Hot on the heels of the Tiger’s historic promotion to football’s top flight, Preston-based world number two Laura Massaro defied the odds to beat favourite Malaysian Nicol David 3-1 (11/4, 3/11, 12/10, 11/7) in the most tensely contested match of the tournament.
The British player looked in determined and aggressive form in the first game dominating the centre of the court and forcing David to do all the work. The Malaysian was unable to find any form as Massaro stormed to an 11-4 victory.
But the second game saw their roles reversed and it was David’s turn to dominate with some hard, precise hitting to steal the game 11-3 and level the match one all.
The third game became a drawn out battle, each player in the early stages unable to break free from the other as they matched each other point for point, shot for shot. But David began slowly to edge ahead taking the match to 6-3 and then to 10-7.
But Massaro fought back valiantly and refused to accept defeat. She leveled the game 10 all and to the delight of the near 1,000 strong crowd took game 12-10 and go 2-1 up.
Speaking after her historic win an emotional Massaro said it had been an amazing experience.
She said: “The British Open is the first tournament I watched growing up and I will always remember my coach when I first turned full time saying one day you will be sitting in the final. I thought ‘yeah right’.
She praised the crowd at the KC Stadium for their support throughout the final match, adding she ‘wished I could take you with me on tour’.
Massaro added: “I thought I played amazingly well in the first game and she (David) played amazingly well in the second game. It was a really close match. From about the eighth point in the last game I was just thinking ‘don’t mess it up’”
David praised Massaro saying she deserved the win: “I was just watching what Laura was doing instead of my own game and she played well.
“She was finding the court better than me and getting to everything. She didn’t make any mistakes. She deserves to win.”
It wasn’t plain sailing for the world number one who was troubled by Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, a previous British Open champion himself who called on that experience to take the first game 11-7.
Ashour looked frustrated by Gaultier and often spoke to himself in between points.
As the Egyptian forces the Frenchman into making more errors Ashour grows in confidence and finishes the second on his first game ball after a series of forehand drops in the front left hand corner ends with Gaultier unableto retrieve and it’s all level.
Gaultier started the third with more aggression with Ashour making a few more errors than we’re used to seeing from the talented 25-year-old. At 7-5 to Gaultier it looked as if the match was swinging in his favour but a few patient rallies and errors from the world number three get Ashour back on track at 10-7 and again the Egyptian finishes the game at the first opportunity.
The fourth game sees the players going point for point a wicked volley nick from Gaultier see the Frenchman lead for the first time in the game. Ashour who has won every major title apart from the British Open is not going to give up lightly and pushes on to lead 9-7. Ashour’s movement and retrieval coupled with his flair and precision leave Gaultier with few options, the Eygptian converts his first match ball and jumps for joy as he takes the prestigious title.
The Egyptian embraces Gaultier as the pair show mutual respect to one another after a fantastic game before Ashour retreats to the corner of the court in tears.
A beaming Ramy told the crowd, “There’s a famous quote, the game is just a game it’s what u play for that matters.
“Winning this prestigious title is one of the happiest moments of my life, if not the happiest. I’ve experienced waking up in the morning every day with such a heavy heart and a heavy spirit, to train as hard as I can with lots of issues in my mind. These kind of moments teach you a lot and I’ve learnt a lot.
“This is something I’ll always remember,” the new British Open Champion concluded.
Women’s Final Laura Massaro (Eng) bt  Nicol David (Mas) 11/4, 3/11, 12/10, 11/7 (53m)
Men’s Final Ramy Ashour (Egy) bt  Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 7/11, 11/4, 11/7, 11/8 (64m)