Pontefract squash players shine for Yorkshire

Pontefract's James Willstrop takes on Amr Shabana in the semi-finals in New York today. Picture Bruce Rollinson.
Pontefract's James Willstrop takes on Amr Shabana in the semi-finals in New York today. Picture Bruce Rollinson.
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It was the finals of the junior inter county squash championships last weekend and Pontefract, as usual, provided the bulk of the players for Yorkshire.

Jack Cooper and Tom Bamford (under 19 boys), Megan Kaye and Jessica Beachill (under 17 girls), Eliot Ridge (under 15 boys), Ellen Cooper, Emma Campion and Poppie Jaram (under 15 girls), Sam Todd, Ben Sockett, Harry Anderson and Jed Nowell (under 13 boys) and Layla Johnson, Millie O’Toole, Laura Longfield and Amber Copley (under 13 girls) were Pontefract’s representatives.

The Yorkshire under 15 boys, under 13 boys and under 13 girls were all successful, the under 13 girls championship being held at Pontefract.

The under 15 boys beat Sussex 4-1 in the final. The star of the show was Eliot Ridge who played exceptionally well to beat the country’s number one ranked player Curtis Malik 3-1.

The under 13 boys, led by Sam Todd, beat Gloucestershire 5-0 in the final and the under 13 girls beat off Essex and Buckinghamshire to win the title.

Ridge had previously helped Pontefract’s unbeaten Yorkshire League second team make it 13 wins from 13 matches when he deputised for the indisposed Simon Gittins.

Wins by age group international Peter Lonsdale and Tom Bamford meant that Ridge played the deciding match against Hull and East Riding first team. He prevailed 15-8 in the fifth.

He continues to improve at a dramatic rate and has been rewarded with a place on the forthcoming national squad where he can advance his claims for international recognition.

Pontefract’s Premier Yorkshire League side beat Wigginton 3-2 with wins for Jack Cooper, Taminder Gata-Aura and Malaysian 17 year old Syafiq Kamal.

Kamal is a newly turned professional and was making his debut for Pontefract where he is currently training.

Pontefract’s James Willstrop has reached the semi-finals of the Tournament of Champions on Grand Central Station, New York. He plays Amr Shabana today.

In the first round he beat the Swiss number one Nicolas Mueller 3-1 and followed up with a convincing 3-0 win over Cameron Pilley, the Australian number one. Two of the games against Pilley went to tiebreaks but Willstrop showed his class to win them both, having come from 10-6 down in the first game. He then defeated England teammate Peter Barker 3-1 for a place in the semi finals.

Airedale Junior School have a strong relationship with Pontefract Squash Club and another 20 children were given the opportunity of free coaching last week.

The scheme has been in operation for almost a year and a fund has been established which will provide transport where necessary and incorporate theatre visits.