Pontefract players make mark in Europe

Pontefract's James Willstrop is seeded number three for the World Championships in Manchester at the end of next month.
Pontefract's James Willstrop is seeded number three for the World Championships in Manchester at the end of next month.
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Pontefract Squash Club has enjoyed much success in Europe.

Lee Beachill, James Willstrop, Adam Toes and Janie Thacker all won European Under 19 championships.

Beachill and Willstrop have many times been part of England senior teams which have won European Team titles. Pontefract’s men’s team won the European Club Team Championship in the Algarve some years ago and the women’s team are current European Club Champions, having won it several times. They go to Riccione in Italy next week to defend their title where Willstrop will represent French team Mulhouse in the men’s competition.

Adding to these successes, Andrea Santamaria (over 45) and Julie Field (over 55) both won European titles in Prague recently, Santamaria adding to her British Open success in June in Hull.

The Yorkshire League season starts soon and Pontefract’s National League side will begin with an away fixture against Duffield in October.

Feature of the first half of the season is the World Championships in Manchester at the end of October, for which the draw has already been made. Willstrop, who is seeded three, should play Spanish number one Borja Golan in the last 16 and Mohammed El Shorbagy in the last eight.

Before that he will play in the Netsuite Open in San Francisco and the US Open In Philadelphia.

Once more the game of squash has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee, this time in favour of wrestling, which remarkably had been rejected only later to be reinstated.

The workings of the IOC are not easy to fathom but they continue to reject a sport played in almost 200 countries which caters for young and old, men and women, girls and boys, is drugfree and widely recognised as one of the most demanding sports in the world.

The greatest loss is the funding which would help grass roots and the lack of recognition the sport’s leading players receive which Olympic inclusion would resolve.

At last year’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year both world number one James Willstrop and and world champion Nick Matthew attended as invited guests but were not even mentioned. Perhaps it is time for squash to forget the Olympics and look forward to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.