Todd’s USA title success rounds off great year for Pontefract

Pontefract's James Willstrop returned to top world form. Picture: Steve Line.SquashPics.com
Pontefract's James Willstrop returned to top world form. Picture: Steve Line.SquashPics.com

SAM TODD’S comprehensive victory in the United States Under 15 Open at Yale University, a year young, rounded off a very successful 2016 for Pontefract Squash Club and its players.

Todd may add to it this week before 2016 closes, in the Pontefract Junior Open, the tournament enhanced by the presence of the Malaysian world under 19 champion Eain Yow, who was coached to success by former Pontefract player Andrew Cross.

Julie Field, world over 60s champion, and Andrea Santamaria, runner-up in the over 45s, losing to the legendary Australian Sarah Fitzgerald in Johannesberg, and recently Peter Lonsdale winning the over 50s title at the West of England Championships all brought major success at masters age group levels.

Added to that was the return to top world form of the club’s most illustrious player James Willstrop with two finals and two semi-finals in major world tour events. Pontefract was named club of the year by the Squash Player Magazine and Willstrop won the match of the year award for his performance in beating world number one Mohammed El Shorbagy.

He was also named as PSA’s player of the month for October.

In the Premier League, the most developed league in the world, Pontefract’s recent 3-2 win over Leicester saw them end the first half of the season joint top of their division with every chance of making the play-offs.

The club’s first team are in contention to win the Yorkshire Premier League with the third team topping Division One, having lost only once this season.

The club’s juniors continue to thrive.

Todd, Elliot Ridge and Ben Sockett are all England junior internationals and Asia Harris, Ben Beachill and Layla Johnson, now returned from America, all have prospects of playing for England at junior level.

Beachill and Amy Royle were two recent winners at the Ilkley Open, adding to the many open successes of the club’s juniors.

Amidst all the success the Stuart Road club has provided regular free coaching for the children of Airedale Junior School, a three year relationship in which many of the children have shown promise and conducted themselves immaculately at all times, a credit to their school.