Pontefract ace topples Shabana in Chicago

James Willstrop beat the in-form and four times world champion Amr Shabana (Egypt), recent winner of the Tournament of Champions in New York.
James Willstrop beat the in-form and four times world champion Amr Shabana (Egypt), recent winner of the Tournament of Champions in New York.
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Pontefract squash star James Willstrop’s draw at the Windy City Open in Chicago could hardly have been more difficult.

After beating a qualifier in the first round he faced the in-form and four times world champion Amr Shabana (Egypt), recent winner of the Tournament of Champions in New York.

Willstrop disposed of qualifier Nafiz Adnan (Malaysia) 3-0 to set up the last 16 meeting with Shabana, a match which would have been acceptable as a final.

Willstrop began brilliantly, winning the first game and then recovering from 7-5 down in the second to win it and take a 2-0 lead.

Shabana clearly thought the prospect of winning the match from 2-0 down was beyond him and Willstrop romped away with the third for a remarkable 3-0 success.

This gave him a quarter final against Ramy Ashour (Egypt). Matches between the pair invariably live up to expectations.

Willstrop won the first game in style and although he lost the subsequent three, all 11-8, the 76 minute match was acclaimed by the Chicago crowd, the media and the watching players, one of whom described it as the best match he had ever seen.

Willstrop returns home briefly and will return to America for the World Series in Virginia, which is for the world’s top eight players.

Later this month he will play the Canary Wharf Classic,which he has won four times and then the Grasshopper Cup in Switzerland, with the main target the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in July.

Saurav Ghosal, Pontefract’s Indian number one, had a fine tournament in Chicago. He beat world number nine Tarik Momen (Egypt) to reach the quarter finals where he lost to close friend Mohammed el Shorbagy (Egypt).

On the domestic front, Pontefract’s all-conquering Yorkshire League second team made it 17 out of 17 when they beat Malton 5-0 and with three matches to go they have every chance of going the entire season unbeaten.

The Yorkshire League Premier team lost 4-1 to Dunnington with Jack Cooper retaining his unbeaten record. The fourth team lost to Wakefield’s first team, 10-year-old Sam Todd winning 3-0 as he continues to show promise of the highest order. AJP Pontefract take on the Coolhurst Club London at home on Tuesday in the National League.