Poles turn out in force to see Pontefract star

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PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop, the world number one, has featured heavily in European Club Championship finals this season.

Willstrop (pictured) represented Paderborn in the German League, Mulhouse in the French League, Florence in the Italian League and last weekend Club Squash for You in the Polish League.

Paderborn and Mulhouse both became champions and Florence lost by the narrowest of margins on a points countback, the match score having been 2-2.

His Polish club finished third but crowds turned out in force in the Square in Krakow as the game gathers momentum in Eastern Europe.

There are already some capable players there and judging by their tennis success it may not be too long before they make an impact on the squash world. Eastern Europe and China are two exciting areas for development in a sport already played in almost 150 countries.

The media interest in Krakow was considerable especially in Willstrop, Vanessa Atkinson, the former women’s world number one and world champion, and world number three Gregory Gaultier.

Ukranian and Slovakian players have visited Pontefract for training purposes and two more Ukranians arrive this week.

Willstrop will represent Mulhouse in the European Club Championships early in September in Prague where the Pontefract women’s team will be in action.

Cathay Pacific Chief James Barrington, the man behind the popular Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open, was also at Pontefract this week. He presented the Cathay Pacific Trophy to Willstrop and will play in the World Masters in Birmingham later this month where Willstrop will play an exhibition with Saurav Ghosal and carry out a signing for his book’ Shot and a Ghost’, which has been a big success.

The annual Lesley Willstrop Memorial doubles will be held at Pontefract from September 27 to 29 and will be in aid of local youngster Jaiden Worrall.

Feature of the event will be a challenge match between a team of rugby league players/coaches against Pontefract’s all star women players.

Pontefract’s Eliot Ridge, who is still only 12 years old, continued his fine run of form when he reached the semi final of the Broadlands Junior Open under 15 championship in Norfolk.