Willstrop to begin quest for world title

James Willstrop
James Willstrop
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The AJ Bell World Championships begin at Manchester Sports City today with the qualifying competition, from which 16 players will gain places into the main draw of 64.

Three of the 16 will have the immediate prospect of facing the world no.2, Gregory Gaultier, world no. 3 James Willstrop and world no. 4 Nick Matthew.

Should the seedings go according to plan – and that is no foregone conclusion – the quarter-finals would be: Ramy Ashour (Egypt) v Peter Barker (England); Amr Shabana (Egypt) v Nick Matthew (England); James Willstrop (England) v Mohammed El Shorbagy (Egypt) and Gregory Gaultier (France) v Karim Darwish (Egypt), illustrating the dominance of the two most powerful squash nations, Egypt and England. World no.1 Ashour and in-form Gaultier are seeded to meet in the final.

Pontefract’s Indian champion, Saurav Ghosal, plays improving young Englishman, Joe Lee, in the first round,on the back of a semi-final in the Macau Open.

Pontefract’s Yorkshire League Premier side made it three out of three wins, beating Abbeydale Park Sheffield 3-2, Kush Kumar winning the decider for the second time.

Jack Cooper and New Zealander Chris van der Salm, making his debut, were the other two winners.

They take on Barnsley this week without Kumar, who has returned to Chennai.

The second team also remain unbeaten after four matches,their latest win being 5-0 over Chapel Allerton second team.

Presentations were made at the club those who had achieved during 2012-2013. Club person - Jayne Robinson; male player - Adam Taylor; female player - Andrea Santamaria; improved male player - Eliot Ridge; improved female - Jen Dale; junior boy - Sam Todd; junior girl - Ellen Cooper; improved junior boy - Ben Sockett; improved junior girl - Layla Johnson.

Outstanding achievements were James Willstrop becoming world no.1; Saurav Ghosal becoming the highest ranked Indian player ever; Andrea Santamaria winning the Over 45 British Open and European Championships; Jack Cooper, Sam Todd and Ellen Cooper representing England at junior level; and Pontefract’s women’s team winning the European Team Club Championships.