JENNY Duncalf has declared herself fit and ready as she attempts to land her third British Nationals title in Manchester this week.
The 29-year-old, from Harrogate, was forced to withdraw from the quarter-final stages of the Cleveland Classic tournament last week after taking a knock on the knee from an opponent’s knee in an earlier round.
But the world No 2 will take centre stage today in the first round of the British National Championships, hoping to repeat her triumphs from 2007 and 2009.
The last two years have seen Duncalf forced to settle for the runners-up spot after defeat by Alison Waters in 2010 was followed by defeat last year against Laura Massaro.
Now recovered from her temporary injury setback in the US last week, Duncalf enters this week’s event as top seed in positive mood.
“I always look forward to the Nationals, it’s such a great event,” said Duncalf, who will begin her campaign across the Pennines against one of the first round qualifiers.
“It might not be a ranking tournament, but it’s still a massive tournament for us and, apart from the British Open and the World Open, is right up there.”
As always with main draws at these events, Duncalf’s chief threat will come in the other half of the draw, with Ireland’s Madeleine Perry, seeded two, scheduled to meet here in Sunday’s final.
Waters’s recent injury problems means she comes into the event seeded lower than normal at eight but, unless she runs into trouble against fourth seed Sarah Kippax in the quarter-finals, will still be the likely last four opponent for Duncalf - providing the favourite avoids any trouble of her own before then.
“The quality of the tournament is pretty good, as always,” added Duncalf. “At the top end, we all know each others games pretty well, but there is always a danger of coming unstuck in the early rounds against somebody you wouldn’t normally face.
“I had a close call last year (against Warwickshire’s Sarah-Jane Perry) so you never go into that first match thinking it’s going to be easy.”