PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop was in the England team that lost 2-1 to Egypt in the final of the World Squash Team Championships in Paderborn, Germany, in which 32 countries took part.
England beat Spain, Germany, Ireland and Hong Kong, all 3-0, and Italy 2-1, the loss being a dead rubber, to reach the semi-finals.
They overcame Australia 3-0 in the semi finals to face Egypt in a clash of the world’s two top sides in the final.
First on court were the world’s numbers one and two Nick Matthew and Ramy Ashour who fought out the recent final of the Australian Open when Ashour won narrowly in the fifth.
Ashour had looked impressive beating Gregory Gaultier (France) in the semi finals in Germany and he continued in the same vein. He was very quick onto the ball and played shots that no player in the history of the game could conceive.
Matthew is famed for his toughness and durability but hard though he tried, he lost 3-0 to give Egypt a precious 1-0 lead.
World number seven Peter Barker, however, levelled the match with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Hisham Ashour, Ramy’s elder brother.
Paderborn, a force in European squash, had been sold out all week and players were fulsome in their praise of what was described by many as the best World Championships ever.
It was fitting that the championship was decided in the final match between world number four James Willstrop and world number three Karim Darwish.
Strangely for two players ranked so closely together, Willstrop held a 12-6 head to head advantage and had won the last six meetings.
In Paderborn, too, Willstrop had looked the more impressive, especially in the semi final against Australia, beating the talented Cameron Pilley 3-0.
Darwish, however, began well and being a confidence player, was encouraged when he won the first game 11-5.
Willstrop served for the seond game twice before losing it on a tiebreak. He was not done with, though, and won a hard fought third 11-9 and then led 4 -2 in the fourth.
The game then lost some of its shape and Darwish regained control winning it to give Egypt the title.
This week the Lesley Willstrop memorial doubles tournament takes place at Pontefract and all money raised will go to Candlelighters, the children’s cancer charity and HER Breast Friend.
James Willstrop and Vanessa Atkinson will pair up in the mixed doubles and two promising six year old girls, Layla Johnson and Imogen Brown, partnered by senior players, will make their debuts.
Former Pontefract player Mark Blowers has donated a Rolex watch to be raffled.
Tickets may be purchased at the club.