PONTEFRACT’S James Willstrop (pictured) failed to retain the Tournament of Champions squash title at New York’s Grand Central Station when he lost in the semi-finals to Egyptian Ramy Ashour who went on to win the championship.
Ashour has had hamstring problems for which he has received treatment in Pontefract in recent weeks.
The treatment, under physio Ian Horsley, has clearly been successful, since Ashour was back to his brilliant best.
Willstrop was impressive on his way to the semi-finals, beating Jonathan Kemp (England) 3-0, Spanish number one Borja Golan 3-0 and world number eight Mohamed El Shorbagy 3-0.
However, he was unable to contain Ashour, though he had chances to win the second game before losing it narrowly.
Ashour beat world number one Nick Matthew 3-1 in in the final and he, Willstrop and Amr Shabana head for Toronto to play a series of exhibition matches.
Next stop for Willstrop from Toronto is Manchester where he will attempt to win the British Championship for the third time. The draw contains three players in the world’s top ten, as does the women’s draw, headed by world number two Jenny Duncalf.
Kirsty McPhee’s status as a coach has been recognised by England Squash who have invited her to accompany the England under 19 girls team to the World Team Championships in Cairo. She will be assistant to Fiona Geaves, the senior England coach.
Pontefract lost 5-0 to Nottingham in the National League. McPhee went closest, losing 12-10 in the fifth to rising star Emily Whitlock but the team will be re-inforced by the return of Sauvar Ghosal and Lee Beachill for this week’s fixture against Duffield.,
The first team also lost in the Yorkshire Premier League to Abbeydale 4-1, young Taminder Gata-Aura providing the win. They are at home this week when Ghosal will again lead the team.
Pontefract’s second team continued their fine form with a 3-2 win over Harrogate and the fourth team, beat Wakefield 3-2, the promising Jack Cooper winning 3-1.
Bradford Bulls visit Pontefract for a morning’s squash in a break from their preparations for the new Super League season. Andy Lynch, the Bulls captain, is a keen and useful player. Tony Smith’s Warrington Wolves were also due to visit Pontefract this week but the postponement of last weekend’s friendly against Wigan Warriors, which was re-arranged for last night (Wednesday), means they will now be coming at a later date.