FINALS : Serme and Willstrop take Gold

Finals

[1] Camille Serme (Fra) 3-0 [2] Millie Tomlinson (Eng)     11/1, 11/3, 11/3 (25m)
[2] James Willstrop (Eng) 3-2 [1] Gregory Gaultier (Fra) 7/11, 11/8, 11/8, 2/11, 11/8 (68m)

3rd/4th

Nele Gilis (Bel) 3-2 Coline Aumard (Fra) 11/2, 5/11, 11/4, 9/11, 11/8 (60m)
Borja Golan (Esp) 3-0 Nicolas Mueller (Sui)            11/8, 11/5, 11/6 (34m)

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Serme and Willstrop claim European Gold in Nottingham

England and France shared the top honours on finals day of the AJ Bell European Individual Championships at the David Ross Sports Village the University of Nottingham, as James Willstrop and Camille Serme won contrasting Anglo-French finals.

Serme, appearing in her seventh consecutive final, claimed the Gold medal for the sixth time in a row with a comprehensive three-game win over second seed Millie Tomlinson, who was playing her first EIC and meeting world #3 Serme for the first time.

The Frenchwoman won 11/1, 11/3, 11/3 in 25 minutes, and said:

“I couldn’t afford to play Millie at 90%, she’s too dangerous so I had to be on top of my game. I’m happy with how I played and extremely proud to become European Champion again.”

Home hopes then rested on Willstrop as he took on France’s Gregory Gaultier, the world #1 who was appearing in his 13th consecutive EIC final and looking for a 10th title.

Gaultier held sway throughout the first game, taking the lead 11/7, but Willstrop battled back to overturn an ealy deficit in the second to level the match 11/8. The third was a brutal, 25 minute affair, Gaultier coming close to boiling over as Willstrop again held firm at the end of the game 11/8 to take the lead.

Gaultier looked composed and confident as he eased through the fourth 11/2, but was Willstrop who opened up a lead in the decider, leading 7-5, 8-6 and 9-7 before closing out the match 11/8.

The win was belated revenge for his defeat by Gaultier in the 2004 EIC semi-finals – when Gaultier went on to take his first title – and England’s first male success in the revamped event, following Chris Walker’s hat-trick in the early 90s.

“That was a brutal match at times,” said Willstrop, “it’s hard to believe we’ve been playing each other like that for so long! A little like the second games against Borja in the semis, the third was crucial. Greg came back, but he still has some demons in there, I’m glad I was able to come out on top in the fifth.

“Greg is a great champion, and I’m proud to beat him.

“It’s been a great event, thanks to all the sponsors, AJ Bell in particular, and Nottingham and the University foor putting on the event in such a great venue. A special thanks to Malcolm, for all he’s done for me over the years, this one is for you!”

Bronze medals went to Belgium’s Nele Gils with a 60-minute win over Coline Aumard, and Spain’s 2016 EIC champion Borja Golan who beat Switzerland’s Nicolas Mueller in straight games.

“Long matches are what I live for,” joked Gilis. “Obviously it would jave been nice to go one better than last year’s silver, but Camille is a great champion and I’ve lost to her three years in a row.

“I lost the 3/4 match to Coline two years ago, so it’s nice to get a win over a french player, and I’m very happy to go home with Bronze.”

Golan reflected: “It was always going to be difficult to win this event again, with the world #1 and #6 in the drw, so third was a big target for me. Nici plays good attacking squash and really made me work hard for that.”

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