Pontefract ace stays on top of world

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PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop (pictured) could hardly have had a much better week in his illustrious career.

He retained his world number one ranking in November for the tenth month, he led AJP Pontefract to success in the National League against Birmingham by beating Chris Ryder 3-1 and he then learned that he had been shortlisted for the prestigious William Hill Sports Book of the Year for his book ‘Shot and a Ghost’.

The original entry of 165 had been reduced to a nominated list of 14 and then to a shortlist of seven.

And, with books by Victoria Pendleton, Jonny Wilkinson and Richard Hughes having been eliminated, Willstrop’s book is in top company. It has been widely praised for its honesty and frankness and has the advantage of being written by Willstrop himself, not ghost-written, as so many sports books are.

The winner will be announced at a luncheon in London on November 26.

Willstrop’s next two tournaments are the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Open, which he won last year, and the World Open in Doha, Qatar, which will determine whether Willstrop can complete a year ranked number one in the world.

This week he will lead AJP Pontefract against Nottingham in the National League when Saurav Ghosal will further strengthen the team.

Willstrop returns from the Mexico Open where he qualified to play top seed and world number three Gregory Gaultier. Although he lost the first game quickly he gave the Frenchman plenty to do from then on, losing 3-1 and only narrowly failing to take the match into a fifth game.

The team for Nottingham is Willstrop, Ghosal, Harinder Pakl Sandhu, Lee Beachill and Sarah Kippax.

It was a good week for Pontefract’s teams. The Premier Yorkshire League side beat Chapel Allerton 4-1 and the second team, with Simon Gittins back in action, defeated Chapel Allerton thirds 4-1 to record their sixth win in seven matches. The first team host Queen’s (Halifax) this week.

Ellen Cooper bettered her 3/4 seeding by reaching the final of the British under 13 girls championship in Manchester.

Having beaten the second seed Carys Jones (Gloucestershire) 3-1 she faced top seed and clear favourite Elise Lazarus and understandably lost 3-0.

Ellen’s brother Jack was seeded 3/4 in the under 17 boys championship and, facing a tough draw, he justified his seeding by reaching the semi finals.

Megan Kaye, seeded 9/16, did well to finish eighth in the under 15 girls and nine-year-old Sam Todd won four of his five matches, only losing the other narrowly 3-2 to finish ninth in the under 13 boys championship.

Taminder Gata-Aura finished fifth in the under 19 boys championships, losing in the fifth to Richie Fallowes (Essex), having led 2-1. Fallowes went on to reach the final.