PONTEFRACT’S James Willstrop (pictured) lost to Nick Matthew in a clash of the world’s top two ranked squash players in the British Championship final at Manchester Sports City.
Neither player was troubled as they reached Sunday’s final although holder Daryl Selby and Adrian Grant offered strong challenges in the semi finals.
The final, in front of a sell out crowd, lived up to all expectataions.
Mathew had the edge in the first game and pulled away in the closing stages.
He also started well in the second and, aided by a couple of lucky bounces, won it more comfortably to lead 2-0.
Coming from 2-0 down is difficult at any level, let alone world levels, but Willstrop had not done much wrong and staying composed and focused. He took control halfway through the third, won it convincingly and at 2-1 was back in the match.
Some of the retrieving left the crowd gasping in disbelief and Willstrop retained marginal control in the fourth, reaching 10-8 to have two game balls to take the match to the fifth.
Disappointingly for the crowd who wanted more, Matthew eventually took the game 14-12.
Had the match gone the full distance, it would have gone down as a classic since the quality hardly wavered throughout and it was easy to see why they are the best players in the world.
It was a pity the IOC were not there to see what they are missing later this year in London and the British Olympic Committee should be regretting that medal chances for Great Britain have been passed up. Willstrop now heads for Virginia for the North American Open where the pair are seeded to meet again in the final.
A win for Willstrop would take him back to world number one.
Pontefract’s Saurav Ghosal won the Windy City Open in Chicago with a series of impressive wins after a first round scare when he found himself 2-0 down to Cesar Salazar (Mexico) before recovering to win 3-2.
In the final he beat Yasir Butt (Pakistan), who showed great form to reach the final unseeded.
Ghosal also goes to Virginia.
Pontefract’s National cLub’s men’s team reached the quarter final of this year’s competition with a 4-1 win over Brampton Manor.
They were led by Indian international Siddarth Suchde who beat rising star Ashley Davies 3 -0.
There were also wins for Neil Cordell, Alex Hodgetts and Adam Taylor who did well to recover from 2-0 down.
Jack and Ellen Cooper, in the under 17 boys and under 13 girls, brought off a family double at the Manchester Junior Open.
Jack Cooper beat Tom Bamford in an all Pontefract final and Eliot Ridge came close to giving Pontefract a third winner, only losing in the final of the under 13 boys to Nick Wall (Sheffield).
Eight-year-old Sam Todd, Pontefract’s outstanding future prospect, playing in the under 13s, finished sixth in a field of 24.
Seven-year-old Layla Johnson, playing in the girls under 11s, lost her first match 3-2, having won the mammoth first game 18-16. She later won her second match 12-10 in the fifth, having been 2-0 down.