(L-R): Ben Smith, Martin Svec, Marta Dominguez & Lowri Roberts.
(L-R): Ben Smith, Martin Svec, Marta Dominguez & Lowri Roberts.

Svec & Dominguez Secure World Championships Spots In Nantes

Czech Republic’s Martin Svec and Spain’s Marta Dominguez produced top performances to earn spots in the 2023-2024 PSA World Championships as they won the Europe Qualifying event held in Nantes, France.

32 players headed to La Maison du Squash for two 16 draws with prize money, ranking points and a spot in the main draw of the PSA World Championships in Cairo next month up for grabs.


Day one saw plenty of upsets as three of the top four seeds exited the competition in the men’s event. Top seed and World No.64 Rui Soares was shocked by Spain’s Ivan Perez in the opening round as the Spaniard came through in four games to move into the last eight. No.2 seed Tom Walsh lost out to France’s Edwin Clain in straight games and No.4 seed Finnlay Withington lost out to Brice Nicolas 11-8 in the fifth game.

In the women’s draw, three upsets took place as British duo Keira Marshall and Lowri Roberts scored upsets to move into the last eight, whilst Ireland’s Hannah Craig defeated No.6 seed Anna Serme in straight games to join them.


With the men’s draw now wide open, the opportunities for the remaining eight players were huge. The only remaining top three seed Ben Smith wasted no time in defeating compatriot Perry Malik to book a semi-final place. He would be joined by fellow Brit Emyr Evans, who defeated Ivan Perez, also in three games. The French duo Clain and Nicolas couldn’t repeat their round one heroics as they lost out to Czech pair Daniel Mekbib and Martin Svec.

Ireland’s Hannah Craig provided a stern test to top seed Marta Dominguez but ultimately fell short in the fifth game, losing 11-6 after 62 minutes of entertaining play. France’s Lauren Baltayan scored the upset of the round as she downed No.2 seed Saskia Beinhard in three games to move into the semi-finals. Lowri Roberts and Alison Thomson came through all-British battles with Keira Marshall and Asia Harris. Thomson was forced to come back from 2-0 to defeat No.3 seed Harris in just over an hour of intense squash.


Ben Smith and Emyr Evans were meeting for the second successive event in one of the men’s semi-finals. They recently played out an epic five-game thriller at the Liverpool Cricket Club Open, which went the way of Smith in 90 minutes. The pair locked horns again in Nantes and produced a similar classic for the French crowd. The Englishman lead 2-0 but the spirit of Evans can never be questioned as he mounted his comeback to level the match at 2-2. In a topsy turvy fifth, it was again Smith who just got his nose in front to win a tiebreak 14-12 and reach the final.

Smith’s final opponent would be Martin Svec, who came through the all-Czech affair with Daniel Mekbib in 39 minutes. Svec dominated the opening game and after the pair shared two tight second and third games, the No.7 seed stormed to victory in the fourth winning 11-1 to book a final spot.

Wales’ Lowri Roberts continued her impressive form as she overcame home favourite Lauren Baltayan in her semi-final. The Frenchwoman claimed the opening game 11-5 but came under fire from relentless attacks by Roberts, who won 11-2, 14-12, 11-9 in the following three games to move into her third career final. Top seed Marta Dominguez had no trouble in her semi-final clash with Alison Thomson as she dispatched the Scotswoman 3-0 in 31 minutes.


The women’s final was up first and a strong start by Dominguez took her to a 2-0 lead, leaving her with one foot in the main draw of the PSA World Championships. Roberts responded in great style and captured the third game 11-7, but the top seed showed her class in the third game and didn’t give Roberts any opportunities to attack as she steadily took the game 11-6 to win the event and claim a place in the biggest event on the PSA calendar.

England’s Ben Smith possesses great skill at the front of the court and his superior height allows him to be extremely dominant on the volley. These attributes were in full flow in the opening two games against Martin Svec as Smith moved to a 2-0 lead, eyeing a place in the PSA World Championships main draw. Svec was determined to not go down without a fight and after leading for the majority of the third game, won it 13-11 on his third game ball to keep the dream alive. Svec seemed to take lots of confidence from this and started to play some excellent squash. After winning the fourth 11-9 to force a decider, Smith was visibly tired from his efforts and Svec charged home with an 11-5 win to claim a third PSA title and a place in the PSA World Championships next month.