Syed & Deaton are Top Seeds for National Champs, Sheffield
Matthew Syed (Surrey) and Nicola Deaton (Derbyshire), who have each been the national champions twice previously, are the top seeds for the men's and women's singles respectively, in the English Senior National Championships being held at Ponds Forge National Sports Centre, Sheffield on 13th/14th May. Syed, 29 and from Richmond, who in February retained his Commonwealth Champion title in Singapore, has on paper a comfortable draw, being scheduled to meet the no. 8 seed Darren Blake (Surrey), who is currently studying at Nottingham Trent University, in the quarter-finals and then the winner of England's rising stars, Andrew Baggaley (Bucks) seeded 4 and Gareth Herbert (Berkshire) seeded 6, in the semi-finals. The clash between Herbert, 19 and from Slough, who was until Baggaley recently overtook him considered England's best future hope, and junior champion Baggaley, 17 from Milton Keynes, who some pundits believe could become the youngest senior champion since Chester Barnes in 1963, will be a fascinating one. Herbert has plenty of speed and flair, but Baggaley has the control and consistency that just might overcome Syed's defence. Defending champion Alex Perry (Devon), 24 and seeded 2, should come through his quarter-final with the improving 7th seed Michael Isherwood (Derbyshire) but the Crediton lefthander then probably faces the toughest of opponents in either the player he beat in last years final, Terry Young (Maidenhead, Berkshire), 21, the national under 21 champion, seeded no.3, or former national champion (3 times) and Commonwealth champion Alan Cooke (Chesterfield, Derbyshire), 34 and seeded 5, who considers he has one more title in him! In fact Cooke, who has beaten Syed and won 3 Grand Prix titles since returning to competitive play after over 2 years national coaching, is the dark horse of the event. Another former champion, Carl Prean (Isle of Wight), did not enter and looks to be in the twilight of his career. With former women's champion Andrea Holt (Lancashire) also a none entrant, defending champion Nicola Deaton (Chesterfield, Derbyshire), 23, who has declined England selection for the European Championships, is the clear women's singles favourite. She probably will be too fast for her scheduled semi-final opponent, former All African champion Kubrat Owolabi (Middlesex), 33, seeded 4. The other semi-final promises to be a closely fought battle between the heavy topspin of no.2 seed Helen Lower (Staffordshire), 29 from Wolverhampton, and the sharp counter-hitting of 24 year old trainee chartered accountant, Linda Radford (Essex) from Brentwood, the third seed.s Andrew Baggaley and Louise Durrant (Nottinghamshire) head the men's and the women's under 21 singles seedings lists. The English National Championships, supported by Sheffield City Council Major Events Unit, commence at 10am on Saturday, 13th May and 9am, Sunday, 14th May. (Tickets Hotline: 0114 2565656). In the European Championships at Bremen, Germany, the England Men's Team (squad; Matthew Syed, Alex Perry, Andrew Baggaley, Terry Young, Gareth Herbert) open their account tomorrow in Category 1, Group B with a match against Poland. Meanwhile the England Women (squad; Helen Lower, Linda Radford, Kubrat Owolabi, Katy Parker (Lancs) ), meet the Czech Republic, also in Category 1, Group B. For further information contact Ken Muhr, ETTA Information Officer, Tel. 01424 722525 Fax. 01424 422103.