Wednesday 4 March 2009

Nick and Jenny in the mirror

We unfortunately couldn't make the recent British Nationals to see Jenny Duncalf and Nick Matthew take the titles for the second time each. Looking over the recent success of both players away from domestic competition - and reviewing their careers to date - it struck me that they share a symmetry ...

Both had assumed a solid berth around 5/6 in the world, before falling back slightly in 2007. Both have taken two National titles, maybe slightly later than one might have predicated. Both are in or approaching their late-20s. Both have made advances over the past year that imply that greater things are to come.

Nick's recent narrow five-game loss to World Champion Ramy Ashour in the Davenport North American Open shows that he fears no-one (great pics here btw). If his body continues to hold up he can get amongst the Egyptians in the two big London events later this month.

Duncalf's win over - again! - Rachael Grinham in December's Sharm El Sheikh Open again underlines that she may be approaching her peak years. Of all the players behind Nicol David and the Grinham sisters, who have occupied the top three ranking places for a good while now, it is Jenny whom appears to be on the steepest upwards curve.

Duncalf has been the elder Grinham's bete noir in recent years, most notably losing to her at last year's British Open in Liverpool - one of the English player's best wins to date.

Jenny is at present competing for the current Kuala Lumpur title (at the quarter final stage as I write). If she were to win, Nick will be hoping that the symmetry of their careers rubs off at least to the end of March, as he attempts to continue his strong run at Canary Wharf and Queen's Club.

Nick Matthew

Born: 25 July 1980
Age: 28
Joined PSA: 1997
Current World Ranking: 5 (March 2009)
Highest World Ranking: 5 (October 2004)
Current National Ranking: 2
Highest National Ranking: 1 (January 2007)

Jenny Duncalf

Born: 10 November 1982
Age: 26
Joined WISPA: 1998
Current World Ranking: 5 (March 2009)
Highest World Ranking: 5 (August 2008)
Current National Ranking: 3
Highest National Ranking: 2 (July 2007)

Review the action from the 2009 British Nationals here.

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