PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop (pictured) lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open in Canberra to Frenchman Gregory Gaultier, with whom he has had a 15-year rivalry.
As a junior Gaultier had the better of it, but Willstrop had a 6-4 match advantage at senior level going into the Australian Open, the first major championship of the new squash season.
To reach the quarterfinals Willstrop beat Chris Ryder (England) and Scottish number one AlanClyne, both 3-0.
Gaultier disposed ot two top 20 opponents, Cameron Pilley (Australia) and Adrian Grant (England).
Willstrop began the quarterfinal exceptionally well, controlling the athletic Gaultier to win the first game 11-7.
Willstrop continued to impress as he led 9-6 in the second, serving for the game at 10-9.
However the French number one levelled at 12-10 and from then on he had the upper hand, eventually winning 3-1.
Gaultier went on to lose narrowly 3-1 to Ramy Ashour (world number two) in the semi-finals.
The form of the world’s top six in Australia suggests that there is little between them and the stage is set for an exciting 2011 season at world levels.
Willstrop now goes to Paderborn in Germany for the World team championships, which begin on Sunday.
England play Spain, Germany and Ireland in their group and a final between England and Egypt, the two dominant nations, looks assured.
Pontefract’s Saurav Ghosal lost in Canberra to Australian Stewart Boswell in the first round.
Ghosal led for much of the first game before losing it 14-12. From then on Boswell, playing well, dominated the match, winning 3-0.
Ghosal will lead a capable Indian team in Paderborn, which will include Siddarth Suchde, who also trains at Pontefract.
Vanessa Atkinson is no longer involved in the world women’s tour but is seeded one for a WISPA event in Nottingham this week. Having maintained form well Atkinson should have little trouble in adding another win to her illustrious career.
Kirsty McPhee plays in the same event but will have to win two qualifying to reach the first round, coaching commitments having restricted her match play.