Atkinson hopes to repeat Euro glory

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ALTHOUGH it is towards the end of the squash season, there is no let up for Pontefract’s international players.

Vanessa Atkinson, recently retired from the world tour, will lead Holland in Finland this weekend in their attempt to repeat their surprise first ever win in the European Championships.

Holland will offer a strong challenge, strengthened by the inclusion of Natalie Grinham who is in top world class form after returning to action after the birth of her first child.

England women are weakened by the absence through injury of Alison Waters and Laura Massaro.

Pontefract’s James Willstrop will play for England in Finland even though he is in the middle of a much-needed rest.

However, although he will not be fully prepared, England have such a powerful team that he should be under little pressure playing at two.

After the European Championships he will be preparing for the Whitehaven to Newcastle charity bike ride in aid of Candlelighters and H.E.R Breast Friend as well as spending a day under the direction of Tony Smith at Warrington Wolves.

Pontefract’s junior internationals have been no less busy. James Earles, representing England under 19s at the European Championships in Switzerland, seeded 3/4, exceeded expectations, reaching the final where he lost to England teammate Nathan Lake.

He was joined in the two boy, one girl team championship by Katie Smith.

England play Belgium in the final and it would be a major shock if the team of Lake, Earles and the world class Emily Whitlock were to lose.

Jack Cooper, making his first international appearance at under 15 level for England in the Home Internationals in Surrey, was the third Pontefract player in action and with Tamindar Gata-Aura, Ellen Cooper and most of all Sam Todd there will be no end to Pontefract’s supply of England players.

Pontefract’s third team ended its season with a 5-0 win over AF Squash, with Nathan Foster and Isa Najmi, deputising for unavailable players, both winning, Najmi for the first time at Yorkshire league level.

The second team end their successful season with an away fixture at Harrogate.

Next domestic action is the club champioships which begin in May.