Joel Makin was a winner for Wales against England and Spain on day one of the European Team Squash Championships in Birmingham.
Haverfordwest’s Makin defeated England’s Declan Jones 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 in the top string match, while he had earlier beaten Borja Golan 11-4, 11-5, 11-5.
Wales, though, lost both men’s event matches 3-1 at Edgbaston Priory.
It was a successful first day for Scotland with their men’s and women’s teams both causing upsets that put them within reach of unexpected semi-final places.
In Division One, comprising eight teams in two pools with the top two going through to the semis, all the teams played twice with women’s top seeds England and France and men’s favourites France and England both notching up two wins to all but seal their semi-final places.
But defending champions France needed to rely on points countback after Scotland’s Rory Stewart fought back from 2-0 down to force a 2-2 draw.
Top seeds and defending champions France eased to an opening 4-0 men’s pool A win over Hungary and then had that thrilling draw with the Scots in the second match to secure their last four place.
Scotland played eighth seeded Hungary seeking a win that would put them through.
Fifth seeds Scotland first met fourth seeds Germany – missing their injured number two Raphael Kandra – in a crucial opening encounter on the glass court, and emerged 3-1 winners thanks to victories from Alan Clyne, Rory Stewart and Angus Gillams who took the decisive final match in five games, then came that thrilling fightback to thwart France.
Men’s pool B went the way of the top seeds as England beat first Switzerland and then Wales – although Joel Makin made the second seeds work for it as he despatched Declan James in the top string match.
Third seeds Spain, whose team includes Welsh Wizards Premier Squash League player Edmon Lopez, also won twice setting up a pool decider with England.
Women’s Pool B followed a similar pattern, with second and third seeds France and Belgium both notching up wins over Spain and Switzerland.
Tinne Gilis was the Belgian heroine as she won the deciding match in both encounters. France and Belgium now meet, effectively to see who avoids hot favourites England in the semis.
The English women didn’t have it all their own way in Pool A though, after a 3-0 win over Scotland they found themselves 1-0 down to Wales after Tesni Evans beat Sarah-Jane Perry in straight games.
England recovered to win, with Millie Tomlinson, a late replacement for the injured Alison Waters, winning twice on her England debut.
Scotland went on to shock fourth seeds Netherlands – who had beaten Wales in the opening match – as Lisa Aitken beat Milou van der Heijden 11-9 in the fifth and youngster Georgia Adderley of the better of Tessa der Sluis in a tense four games.
With England to play the Netherlands and Wales meeting Scotland, the semi-final places are still up for grabs.
Wales squads for ETC:
Men: Joel Makin, Peter Creed, Emyr Evans, Elliott Morris Devred.
Ladies: Tesni Evans, Deon Saffery, Stacey Gooding, Elin Harlow
Coaches: Andrew Evans and David Evans.
The Rhiwbina Welsh Open $11,000 men’s tournament which starts on May 7.
There are four Welsh players in the Welsh Open draw – Peter Creed, Emyr Evans, Morris Devred and University of Nottingham student Owain Taylor.
Eleven countries are represented through the first round draw and they are England, Spain, France, Finland, Croatia, Spain, Italy, India, Pakistan, Germany and Wales.
Purchase Welsh Open tickets here https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/rhiwbina-squash-club-open
The professional PSA Ladies Bangor Open at Bangor University is being held between Wednesday, May 29 and Wednesday, June 5.
The fifth annual Llantrisant Open Squash Championships are to be held in June. Llantrisant are organising their tournament for Friday, June 21 to Sunday, June 23.