Pontefract finish the season with flourish

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AFTER a winless first half in the National Squash League, Courtcraft Pontefract recorded their third successive victory when they beat Nottingham 4-1 in an exceptional match.

The contest featured a current world number one and two former world number ones. Three matches went the full distance, much to the delight of the packed crowd.

Lee Beachill (pictured), Vanessa Atkinson and Simon Parke all led 2-0 and when much younger opposition drew level their chances looked slim.

Although Atkinson could not quite resist England international Emma Beddoes, Beachill, who had only flown in from Egypt on the morning of the match, and Parke both showed immense resilience to win 3-2. World number one James Willstrop and Indian number one Saurav Ghosal rounded off the evening with impressive 3-0 victories.

It was too late to take Pontefrcat into the play offs but it proved that had the club beeen able to turn out a full strength side regularly they are a match for anybody.

Willstrop and Ghosal head for Canary Wharf this week where unfortunately the pair will meet in the first round.

Willstrop, three times a winner of the event, is seeded to meet Nick Matthew in the final.

After London, Willstrop goes to Egypt for the El Gouna Open, seeded one with all the world’s best in opposition. He has a favourable looking draw, with Matthew, Ramy Ashour, Gregory Gaultier and Amr Shabana all in the opposite half.

Willstrop’s continued run of success was recognised at the Leeds Sports Awards at Elland Road when he won the professional player of the year award. Leeds Rhinos took the professional team award.

Recent feature in the Yorkshire League has been the performances for Pontefract of India’s world number 14 Dipika Pallikal, the glamour girl of world squash.

She beat world number three Madeline Perry 3-0 and then scored another 3-0 over male opposition against Chapel Allerton.

Aged 20, Dipika she looks destined for the top of the women’s game.

The third Yorkshire League team have enjoyed a successful season and they beat Huddersfield second team 3-2 with wins from James Fender, Ben Hodgettts and Tom Bamford.

Yorkshire under 15 girls, containing Pontefract players Megan Kaye, Jessica Beachill and Ellen Cooper, lost in the final of the inter county championship 4-1 to Gloucestershire.

The club’s under 19 mixed team have reached the finals of the National Club championships in Nottingham in June and the men’s team face Bowden (Cheshire) to make the final weekend.