Pontefract ace loses high quality final

editorial image

PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop, holder of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open championship, went close to retaining his title.

He reached the final where he lost a match of the highest quality 3-1 to Ramy Ashour.

Willstrop (pictured) beat Adrian Grant (England) 3-1, Ong Ben Hee, the Malaysian number one, 3-0, Spanish number one Borja Golan 3-0 and in the semi final Karim Darwish (Egypt) 3-0.

Meanwhile Ashour beat Gregory Gaultier (France) 3-1 and Nick Matthew (England) in three close games in the semi final.

The final, played in front of members of the IOC in the spectacular setting of Hong Kong Harbour, was a wonderful match, a contrast between the classical style of the Englishman and the unique originality of the Egyptian.

Ashour won a close first game but Willstrop was devastating in the second, winning it 11-3.

Ashour raised the pace, with Willstrop resisting strongly throughout, and managed to close out a 3-1 win.

Matches between the two never fail to please and this final in Hong Kong was among their best.

Willstrop retains his world number one ranking for December, having been there for eleven months of 2012 and he is now in Doha, Qatar, for the World Championships, which begin today (Thursday).

Ashour is in the opposite half of the draw and it is quite possible the two could meet again in the final.

Saurav Ghosal also lost to Ashour in Hong Kong, giving the eventual champion plenty to do, winning the third 12-10 and leading 10-7 in the fourth before losing it 12-10.

He had beaten Max Lee (Hong Kong) 3-0 in the first round.

The end of the month sees the Pontefract Junior Open which always attracts a strong entry prior to the British Junior Open at Abbeydale Park, Sheffield, immediately in the New Year.

There is no rest either for the professionals as the prestigious World Series for the top eight players of 2012 begins on January 2 at Queen’s Club, London.

Pontefract’s first Yorkshire League team came close to beating a strong Hallamshire side last week. There were wins for Harinder Pal Sandhu and Taminder Gata-Aura and both Alex Hodgetts and Jack Cooper lost 3-2. They play Phoenix at home this week.

The second team continued their winning ways with a 5-0 victory over Huddersfield and the fourth team recorded their second win in a row with a 3-2 success over Barnsley seconds. The highlight was a first Yorkshire league win for 13 year old Eliot Ridge.