Club’s top achievers receive awards

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PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s annual dinner recognised the achievements and contributions made by its members in 2010-2011.

James Willstrop (pictured) reached seven major finals, including the World and Commonwealth finals, was one of three nominations for the world player of the year - the World Awards this year being held at the spectacular Grand Central Station in New York - and ended the season ranked four in the world.

His girlfriend Vanessa Atkinson was also nominated for the women’s world player and she announced her retirement from the World tour.

In 2004 she won the world championship and was ranked one in the world.

In her four years at Pontefract, she has retained her form, winning the Dutch Open from a world class field and leading Holland to victory in the European team championships.

She will continue to represent Pontefract.

Saurav Ghosal, India’s best ever player, continued his rise up the world rankings and only untimely injury robbed him of two major successes late in the season.In the Irish Open he was 2-0 up and 7-4 in the semi finals against the eventual winner and he was seeded one to become the first Indian to win the Asian Championships.

Ghosal was joined at the dinner by Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal, India’s top two women players, who presented the awards and Siddarth Suchdee, the Indian number three.

Jack Cooper became Pontefract’s latest international, representing England under 15’s, joining Katie Smith (under 19) and Taminder Gata-Aura (under 17).

The club’s women’s team lost narrowly in the final of the European club team championiships held at Pontefract for the first time.

The under 19 mixed team, led by George Wileman, the club champion, won the National title for the eighth time, beating Wimbledon 4-1 in the final.

The Leeds Metro teams won Division One of both the men’s and women’s leagues and the third men’s team also won their division.

The most remarkable team performance was the Yorkshire League second team, winning promotion to the premier league on a points countback.

Simon Gittins, Stuart Hargreaves, Peter Lonsdale and Mark Swift, with the youthful Adam Taylor, made up the team with James Fender an able deputy when required.

The main award of the evening went to Jack McPhee, octogenarian, who has given and continues to give great service to the club

It was a double for the McPhee family when Kirsty McPhee won the women’s player of the year award, having finished third in the World Univerisities championships in Australia and then helping Great Britain to team success.

Simon Gittins, for his leadership of the second team, was male player and improved player awards went to Keeley Grindle and Tom Bamford who faced strong opposition from Brad Gallivan and Joe Caulfield.

The junior players of the year awards went to two outstanding prospects, the remakable eight year old Sam Todd and Ellen Cooper,11.

Other awards were made to Simon Parke, Terry Dudley, Steve Ridge, Mick Todd, Sharee Hannon and Niall O’Connor

One of the features of the night was the performance of long established member Simon Burrows and Niall O’Connor in their dance routine to Kung Fu Fighting.

Confirming his award Sam Todd won the under 11 tournament at Chapel Allerton the next day, winning three matches and coming from 2-0 down in the final.

Ellen Cooper almost made it a double, losing 3-2 in the final of the under 13 girls.