Willstrop beaten in British Open semis

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PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop, three times runner up at the prestigious British Open, lost in this year’s semi finals.

Sponsored by Hull’s Dr Allam, the championship was held at the 02 Arena in London, with J Zee, the World Series Darts and Barry Manilow there at the same time.

World number one Willstrop (pictured) impressed on his way to the semi finals, beating German number one Simon Rosner 3-0, Alister Walker, formerly based in Leeds but now in America, 3-1 and world number six Mohammed El Shorbagy (Egypt) 3-0.

His semi final opponent Ramy Ashour, often a visitor to Pontefract, had been much less impressive, struggling to beat Spanish nmber one Borja Golan 3-2 and fellow Egyptian Amr Shabana also 3-2, having looked in danger of defeat in both matches.

However it was a different Ashour in the semi final.

Willstrop established some control in the first game and won it well 11-9.

A poor start, though, in the second negated his advantage and Ashour levelled 1-1 and then led 2-1.

The quality of the match and spectacular rallies enthralled the capacity crowd.

In the fourth at 8-8, Willstrop had every chance of making it 2-2 but Ashour won the game, finishing it with a sensational backhand cross court volley into the nick

The crowd rose as one to give the two players a standing ovation.

Even after the final the match was acknowledged as the match of the championship.

It is scandalous that a sport that fulfils every Olympic ideal, caters for children and is played in 150 countries should not be in the Olympics in London, especially when English men are ranked one and two in the world and English women two and three and medals are guaranteed.

Willstrop now plays Italian and French league finals before heading for Colorado for altitude training in preparation for the 2012-2013 season.

The Britsh Open semi final means that he will retain his world number one spot for at least June, July and August.

His book ‘Shot and a Ghost’ continues high in the Amazon best sellers in the rackets sports division and has been acclaimed by journalist Gareth Davies as the sports book of the Year.

Sophie Raworth, Matthew Pinsent, Tony Smith, Jim McGrath, as well as the Dailty Telegraph, the Independent, the Times and the Guardian have all been high in their praise of the book which is an account of life at the top of the sporting world written by Willstrop himself.

Pontefract’s Saurav Ghosal played exceptionally in London to beat world junior champion Marwan El Shorbagy 3-0 and then lost 3-1 to world number seven Peter Barker who went on to put out world number three Gregory Gaultier to frank the form.

Pontefract’s Dipika Plalikal also performed well in the second round only losing 11-7 in the fifth to world number five Raneem El Weleily.