Willstrop faces Bermuda’s best-ever player in first round

Pontefract's James Willstrop in action against Nick Matthew. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

Pontefract's James Willstrop in action against Nick Matthew. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

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The Commonwealth Games men’s and women’s singles squash tournaments begin in Glasgow today.

World champion Nick Matthew from Sheffield and Malaysia’s outstanding world number one Nicole David are top-seeded but both will face strong challenges from English players.

Matthew has Peter Barker (Essex) in the semi final and Pontefract’s James Willstrop in the final while David will face world champion Laura Massaro (Lancashire) in the final - always assuming that the seedings work out. The strength of the draws is such that that is no certainty.

Cameron Pilley, the Australian number one and Pontefract’s Saurav Ghosal, the Indian number one and the country’s best ever player, are main players and there are many world class players in the women’s draw.

Willstrop opens with a first round match against Bermuda’s best ever player Nicholas Kyme and has the prospect of a last 16 match with New Zealand number one Martin Knight.

Ghosal has a prospective quarter final against Malaysian number one Ong Ben Hee.

Willstrop also has medal prospects in the men’s doubles, partnered by Darl Selby (Essex), the world number10 , and Ghosal and Joshanan Chinappa look a dangerous pair for India in the mixed doubles.

The three doubles competitions begin next Tuesday.

Betfred, the biggest high street bookmakers in the country, are betting on all the squash events and Willstrop is 7/2 second favourite to win the singles and the same price to win the men’s doubles. He will be encouraged by his recent form in the French and Polish League finals and his 3-0 win over Ramy Ashour in a recent exhibition in Dubai.

While Pontefract’s senior players are seeking fame in Glasgow,the club’s juniors continue to thrive.

Amber Copley won the Halifax Junior Open under 13 without losing a game in her four matches, beating clubmate Laura Longfield in the final, but the latter had her revenge winning the under 13 girls championship in York last weekend from a draw including Copley. She beat nine year old Layla Johnson in another all Pontefract final.

Ben Sockett, still only 12, won the under 15 boys and Ben Beachill the under 13 boys, beating Jordan Stewart in the final. Amy Royle was runner up in the under 11 mixed event in another successful tournament for the club’s juniors.