PONTEFRACT Squash club could not have had a better start to the new season when the women’s team won the European Club Championship for a record fifth time in Prague.
What made the performance all the more remarkable was that Welsh international Deon Saffery was a late withdrawal through injury and both Vanessa Atkinson and Kirsty McPhee have had recent injury problems which have restricted their training.
Pontefract beat Espoo (Finland) and Can Malich (Spain) and then survived a tough match against Irish champions Fitzwilliam, beating them 2-1 to reach the final.
The final against French team Mulhouse turned out to be easier than the Fitzwilliam match as both Orla Noom, the Dutch international, and former world number one and world champion Atkinson won their matches 3-0.
The team was sponsored by Tony and Elaine Davies, owners of the La Baia Hotel, Scarborough.
Apart from the outstanding performance of the Pontefract women, the army of travelling Pontefract supporters had a bonus when they saw world number one James Willstrop, playing for French team Mulhouse, come from 2-0 down to beat world number two Nick Matthew, representing German champions Worms. Willstrop won 3-2 after 100 minutes of world class squash.The pair are seeded one and two in next week’s British Grand Prix at Manchester Sports City.
There was also success at junior level at the North East Area Championships, the girls at Chapel Allerton and the boys at Pontefract.
Pontefract’s Jack Cooper, still only 16, won the under 19 boys title and Megan Kaye won the under 15 girls championship, beating Georgina Webster (Northumbria) 3-1.
Cooper’s win came from a round robin event win in which he was unbeaten.
There were also performances of the highest quality from Sam Todd in the under 13 boys and Ellen Cooper in the under 15 girls.
They were playing up an age group and both showed why they are players of outstanding promise.
Todd’s match for the fifth/sixth place play off against Northumbria’s Angus Forster, more than two years older, was exceptional.
Cooper took eventual winner Megan Kaye to five games in the semi final, having previously scored an impressive 3-2 win over much older Zoe Kaiser (Yorkshire).
The Yorkshire League programme opens tomorrow (Friday) when Pontefract’s fourth team play Barnsley’s second team.
Todd and 13-year-old Eliot Ridge are both included in the team.
Next week Pontefract first team travel to Phoenix (Huddersfield) and the second team will play the third team in a match which will have plenty of local interest.
One of the club’s promising young girl players Eve Perrin showed her talent in another sport when, playing cricket for Yorkshire under 11 girls against Lincolnshire in Harrogate, she scored 58 runs to add to one wicket and a catch in a fine all round performance.