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Squash - 02. February 2008.

Favourite Bailey Faces Irish Opponent In Opening Nationals' Clash

Favourite Bailey Faces Irish Opponent In Opening Nationals' Clash

The championships, in their 12th successive year in Manchester and sixth year at the National Squash Centre in Sportcity, have attracted world class fields from throughout the UK. In addition to the men's and women's open events, the tournament will feature Masters championships in age-group categories ranging from Over-35 to Over-70.

Bailey, the 2006 champion from Stamford, is expected to reach the final for the second time - but the world number five's opponent is based in Stockport and will no doubt benefit from local support. Mylotte, ranked 47 in the world, originally hails from Galway and is making her third appearance in the event.

Bailey is expected to face England team-mate Alison Waters in the quarter-finals, according to the draw announced today by England Squash. The 23-year-old fifth seed from London was runner-up both last year and in 2005, and opens her 2008 campaign against a qualifier.

The favourite has avoided the player who stopped her in last year's quarter-finals: Third seed Jenny Duncalf, the world No7 from Harrogate in Yorkshire who went on to win the title for the first time, is in the lower half of the draw - where she faces Derbyshire fire-fighter Laura Hill in the first round.

Local star Vicky Botwright is the second seed, whose first opponent will be a qualifier. The 30-year-old world No6 from Worsley in Manchester will be keen to shine for the first time in this year in her 10th appearance in the event in her home city since 1997. Botwright has hitherto failed to fulfil her promise in the Nationals - with the quarter-finals being her best finish, five times in the last six years!

Lancashire county team-mate Laura Lengthorn-Massaro - the fourth seed from Preston who caused Botwright's downfall last year - is drawn to face Cheshire's Sarah Kippax in the first round.

Women's 1st round draw:

[1] Tania Bailey (Lincs) v Laura Mylotte (Ireland)

[5] Alison Waters (Middx) v Qualifier

[4] Laura Lengthorn-Massaro (Lancs) v Sarah Kippax (Cheshire)

[7] Dominique Lloyd-Walter (Middx) v Qualifier

[8] Lauren Briggs (Essex) v Rebecca Botwright (Lancs)

[3] Jenny Duncalf (Yorks) v Laura Hill (Derbyshire)

[6] Madeline Perry (Ireland) v Qualifier

[2] Vicky Botwright (Lancs) v Qualifier

For ticket details, visit the official website: www.nationalsquashchamps.co.uk

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