Record entries at annual tournament

Former Pontefract player Mark Blowers generously donated a Rolex watch which was raffled.
Former Pontefract player Mark Blowers generously donated a Rolex watch which was raffled.

THERE were record entries for Pontefract Squash Club’s annual Lesley Willstrop doubles tournament which this year was in aid of HER Breast Friend and Candlelighters.

Former world number one Vanessa Akinson, current world number four James Willstrop, England international Emma Beddoes and tour player Eddy Charlton headed the draw.

With two highly promising youngsters six-year-old Layla Johnson and seven-year-old Imogen Brown also featuring, the entries covered the whole range.

Players from Nottingham, York and Hull added further interest and two of the visiting pairs came away with titles.

In the mixed tournament, Emma Beddoes and Eddy Charlton beat Vanessa Atkinson and James Willstrop and in the men’s final Paul Norton and Darren Beckett won a quality match against Andrew Cross, former Pontefract player and now Malaysian National coach, and Ian Bateman.

The women’s final went to Katie Smith, England under 19 international and Maria Emmerson, who beat the experienced pair Gill Topliss and Andrea Santamaria in the closest match of the night. The younger pair just prevailed 2-1.

Former Pontefract player Mark Blowers generously donated a Rolex watch to be raffled. Lindsey and Zoe, from HER Breast Friend, were present to draw the winning ticket, which belonged to Gary Selwood, a player at Pontefract. Well over £3,000 was raised from sales of tickets.

RESULTS - Men’s: Paul Norton and Darren Beckett beat Andrew Cross and Ian Bateman 2-0. Mixed: Emma Beddoes and Eddy Charlton beat Vanessa Atkinson and James Willstrop 2-0. Women’s: Maria Emmerson and Katie Smith beat Gill Topliss and Andrea Santamaria 2-1. Plates: James Balliger and Nathan Foster beat Craig Mansfield and Matthew Smith 2-1. Mixed: Gary Siddall and Andrea Santamaria beat Gill and Callum Topliss 2-0. Women’s: Emma Beddoes and Jessica Beachill beat Lesley Booth and Pat Gale 2-0

The Yorkshire League season begins next week when three of the club’s four teams will be in action.

The first team play Heaton at home on Wednesday and the third and fourth teams are at home on Friday.

Several promising young players will be involved in Yorkshire league teams including Brad Gallivan, Tom Bamford, Joe Caulfield, Dominic Pegg and Jack Cooper. At Leeds Metro level, Eliot Ridge,12, and the club’s most outstanding prospect for years, eight-year-old Sam Todd, will be making their senior debuts.

Pontefract has two teams in the Yorkshire Premier League this season and resources will be split to make sure that both teams are competitive.

The Rowe British Grand Prix begins with the qualifier in Wolverhampton a week on Saturday,with the first round in Manchester the following Monday.

All the world’s best players are in action and James Willstrop has a prospective meeting with four times world champion Amr Shabana in the quarter finals. Saurav Ghosal has a heavy first round match with Gregory Gaultier, world number six.

World number two Ramy Ashour, managed by Pontefract’s Mick Todd, and charismatic elder brother Hisham are expected at the club prior to the event. It’s a rare treat for club members as Ramy is the most original shot maker in the history of the game.