Pontefract Junior Open attracts strong entry

JACK Cooper will be hoping to make an impact in the Pontefract Junior Open.
JACK Cooper will be hoping to make an impact in the Pontefract Junior Open.

CHRISTMAS and the New Year may be festive and holiday times for most people but for professional and top junior squash players there is no respite.

The prestigious Pontefract Junior Open begins today (Thursday) and coming as it does just before the British Junior Open in Sheffield it always attracts a strong entry. Andrew Cross, the former Pontefrcat player and now Malaysian coach, is bringing top Malaysian juniors.

Pontefract’s leading juniors - Taminder Gata Aura, Jack Cooper (pictured), Ellen Cooper, Sam Todd and Eliot Ridge - will all be hoping to make an impact.

Eight Argentinian juniors will be in Pontefract on Sunday for training purposes and another former Pontefract player Lauren Siddall, who coaches in South Africa, is back home with three other South African players.

The South African Knights, the universities team, are regular tourists to this country and they will play a Pontefract select on January 2.

James Willstrop is back after a month away in Hong Kong, Qatar and Lausanne, but he will have very little rest as he prepares for the World Series at Queen’s Club London for the world’s top eight players which begins on January 2.

Willstrop is drawn in the same group as Gregory Gaultier and two Egyptians Amr Shabana and Karim Darwish. All four players have been world number one at some time.

Willstrop opens up against four times World champion,Shabana.

The World Series is followed almost immediately by the Tournament of Champions in the spectacular setting of Grand Central Station, New York.

Willstrop is seeded one and scheduled to meet world champion Ramy Ashour in the semi finals.

The pair have had some outstanding matches in the TOC in the past and the enthusiastic New York crowds will be hoping for another.

Pontefract’s Saurav Ghosal will also be in New York. Now in the world’s top twenty for the first time, he goes there having just retained his Indian Championship, beating Harinder Pal Sandhu 3-0 in the final.

It’s a busy 2013 for professionals with world and European team championships, the World and British Championships in Manchester and the Allam British Open in Hull, as well as other major PSA Championships.