Monday, 28 January 2008

Kitchen sinks Waters as seeds flounder

Shelley KitchenRecent recipient of WISPA's Most Improved Player award Shelley Kitchen justified her accolade by beating England's Alison Waters in a hard-fought 3-2 win to take the Harrow Greenwich Open title.

Natalie Granger's loss to Laura Lengthorn-Massaro in the quarters had robbed the event of its top seed, and Kitchen's topsy-turvey win over Vanessa Atkinson in her semi-final had set up a final that perhaps few would have predicted.

But it is Waters' characteristically stealthy progress through the rounds that also suggests potential beyond her ranking ...

While Kitchen looks set to consolidate her position in the top 10 after this win, it could be that 2008 similarly proves a breakthrough year for the 23 year-old from London.

Waters has also done well in the January Greenwich event in the past couple of years just prior to the British Nationals, and obviously finds it easier than us mere mortals to raise herself from the post-Christmas torpor (do athletes have these?).

Twice in recent years has Waters made it to the final of the Nationals, first in 2005 when it always seemed destined to be Linda Charman's year, and then last year losing to Jenny Duncalf in a close five-game match.

Alison WatersOn both occassions Waters played underdog, slipping through to the final by playing her unfussy, methodical game as bigger names crashed out.

Reaching the final in Greenwich a couple of weeks before the Nationals take place at the National Sports Centre therefore seems like some kind of omen, and in repeating the pattern she'll be hoping it will be third time lucky in Manchester.

Beginning and ending 2007 at number 11 in the rankings, Waters had been as high as 9 and low as 14 throughout the year. Quarter final appearances were in abundance, but the last semi she made it to on the main WISPA tour was in Greenwich last year.

Success for her by the end of 2008 would be to not finish again as runner-up in Manchester, emulate Shelley Kitchen's recent improvement by ensconcing herself inside the top 10, and grab some WISPA titles along the way.

Harrow Greenwich Open 2008
British National Championships 2008

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