Former world squash champions coming to Edinburgh on a £3,000 mission

Edinburgh squash professional Lisa McKenna has praised two of the world’s most decorated players for agreeing to stage a charity exhibition at the Capital’s Grange Club this month.

Three times world champion Nick Matthew OBE will step on court against James Willstrop, a former world No 1 and a world doubles champion, in memory of Lisa’s older sister, Deirdre Weatherhead, who died of secondary breast cancer aged just 44 in August, 2021. The match will take place on on Friday, May 12.

Lisa, 45, coaches at both Haddington and Dean clubs, as well as Grange. She is a former British under-14 and under-16 champion who was British No 1 at under-19 level and reached No 37 in the world rankings as a senior.

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She says: “I knew James Willstrop in particular from my competitive playing days so there was a connection but both men have been so kind in taking time out of their busy schedules. Not only are they playing an exhibition match which I hope will raise around £3,000 for the charity Make 2nds Count but Nick and James are happy to undertake a coaching clinic for juniors. They’ve also donated prizes.

James Willstrop plays a shot against Nick Matthew in the men's singles final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in GlasgowJames Willstrop plays a shot against Nick Matthew in the men's singles final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow
James Willstrop plays a shot against Nick Matthew in the men's singles final at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow

“The charity itself provides help for families affected by the disease and also supports patients undergoing clinical trials. Deirdre, who reached Lothian county standard as a junior squash player, was diagnosed in 2019 and passed away a couple of years later.

“I owe much of my squash playing and coaching career to my big sister because when I was about nine-years-old we went along to a summer tennis camp at Abercorn Sports Club. Deirdre got fed up with me following her about and encouraged me to hit a ball by myself for hours on end on a squash court. That’s how I got into squash.

“Deirdre was the best big sister I could have asked for. We had our ups and downs like most siblings but always had each others back. It still seems unreal she is no longer with us."

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Deirde, who lived in Port Seton, has left two daughters, Lucy, 21, and Amy, 17. In addition to the two world-class pros Lisa has paid tribute to assistance received from the Grange club.

Lisa McKennaLisa McKenna
Lisa McKenna

She added: “Once again Grange have risen to the challenge to support me just as they did a few years ago when I organised a fund-raiser for prostate cancer charities in memory of my late dad, Brian. As well as court-side seating the club have arranged live-streaming to the bar area.”

Billed as an evening “also including live music, auction, raffle and food the event has received sponsorship from Commercial Water Solutions and Lothian Printers. The Matthew – Willstrop encounter is merely the latest stage of a long running rivalry.

At the 2010 Commonwealth Games Nick took the gold medal with a victory against Willstrop who was described as a “bitter rival” in contemporary reports. The pair met again when Nick. Nicknamed “The Wolf”, claimed his maiden world title.

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Willstrop, known as “The Marksman” for his uncannily accurate shot placements, actually made an international debut in Edinburgh for Team England at the Commonwealth Youth Games of 2000. He was back competing in Scotland at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014, picking up silver and bronze medals.

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