Wileman hits top form to lift championship

Former Featherstone Rovers player Gary Siddall won Pontefract Squash Club's over 50s championship. Siddall (left) and Peter Smith are pictured holding fellow pack star David Hobbs aloft at Wembley in 1983 after the trio helped Featherstone pull off a shock win against Hull in the Challenge Cup final.
Former Featherstone Rovers player Gary Siddall won Pontefract Squash Club's over 50s championship. Siddall (left) and Peter Smith are pictured holding fellow pack star David Hobbs aloft at Wembley in 1983 after the trio helped Featherstone pull off a shock win against Hull in the Challenge Cup final.

PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s men’s championship saw the younger generation assert themselves.

It produced a final between 19-year-old Karan Malik, the Indian under 19 international, and 18-year-old George Wileman.

Malik had seen off a strong challenge from under 17 England international Tamindar Gata-Aura 3-1 while Wileman had beaten Adam Taylor comfortably 3-0.

The final did not disappoint. Malik, who exudes class, had marginal control of the first game, winning it 11-9, but a tame ending by him saw Wileman back on level terms and then playing better than he had all season, staying just ahead to win a quality match 3-1.

Wileman’s elder brother Sam now coaches in Chicago and the new champion will be heading to Nottingham University in September.

The women’s title went to England Under 19 international Katie Smith, an easy task for her in the absence of the injured Kirsty McPhee and Deon Saffery.

The junior championship produced an excellent match between Eliot Ridge and the improving George Pugh.

Pugh managed to stay with Yorkshire under 13 player Ridge for the first two games after which Ridge drew away for a comfortable 3-0 win.

Former senior Welsh international Simon Bamford, whose son Tom is showing promise, returned to competitive action and although bulkier than in his halcyon days, showed that he retains much of his racket skill, beating Ian Bateman in the over 40’s final.

Gary Siddall, as streamlined as in his Featherstone Rovers days, beat Barry Smith in the over 50s championship.

The Plate competitions provided two splendid five set finals.

Yorkshire under 19 player Alex Hodgetts beat professional musician James Fender 3-2 in the final of the Classic Plate. The outcome was in doubt throughout as neither player was able to dominate.

Brad Gallivan, having played two matches earlier in the day in Birmingham in the Regional Championships, travelled back to Pontefract to be rewarded for his efforts, winning the men’s plate, beating Tony O’ Toole 3-2.

Understandably Gallivan was not quite at his best but he battled hard to overcome his mobile senior opponent. He then headed straight back to Birmingham to resume his efforts for the Northern Region the following day, Such commitment deserves the reward it got.

Two six year old girls, Imogen Brown and Millie O’Toole, who played in the junior event, were awarded certificates for their efforts.

The championships were run by Terry Dudley, the most experienced tournament organiser in the country, with his trademark efficiency.

The national club championships finals are in Nottingahm this weekend. Vanessa Atkinson will lead the women’s team, Pontefract being the most successful women’s team in the history of the championships and George Wileman will lead the under 19 mixed team, also the most successful junior side.

The women, play Colet’s (London) in the semi final and the under 19 mixed play Lee-on Solent.

James Willstrop, back in training, heads for Edinburgh to play a challenge match for Cancer charity against Scottish number one Alan Clyne and the following weekend will take on the challenge of a different kind - a bike ride from Whitehaven to Newcastle in aid of the children’s cancer charity Candlelighters (Leeds based) and H.E.R Breast Friends.

He will be accompanied by a notable gathering of squash players including Vanessa Atkinson, former world number one Simon Parke, former world number three, national coach and brother David Campion and England international Sarah Campion, as well as Lee Campion and friends.The ride is dedicated to memory of Lesley Willstrop, mother of James, David and Lee.