DESPITE being in the middle of a much needed rest, Pontefract Squash Club’s James Willstrop (pictured) was in the England team that retained the European team championship in Finland.
With world number one Nick Matthew, world number seven Peter Barker, British Open champion Daryl Selby and Jonathan Kemp the other members of the team, Willstrop could afford to go under prepared.
England beat Czech Republic 4-0, Wales 4-0 and Holland 4-0 to face France in the final.
Even with world number six Gregory Gaultier leading them, France were unable to trouble England who won 3-0, the dead rubber not being played.
Once Matthew had disposed of Gaultier 3-0, France’s chances disappeared.
Vanessa Atkinson, who had led Holland to a famous and unexpected victory in the women’s championship in 2010, led Holland to the final again. They beat France in the semi finals with a close 2-1, Orla Noom, the Dutch number three, winning from 2-0 down to clinch a place in the final.
However, Holland could not repeat last year’s success when they faced an England team weakened by the absence of Alison Waters and Laura Massaro.
Jenny Duncalf beat Atkinson 3-0 and Sarah Kippax, wife of David Campion, scored a fine win over Natalie Grinham who had been in excellent form of late.
It completed a double for England’s teams which have never been stronger than they currently are.
Siddarth Suchdee, the Indian number three who trains at Pontefract, enjoyed a successful time at the Asian Championships in Malaysia.
He beat the talented Kuwait number one in the quarter finals 3-2 and only narrowly failed to make the final, losing 3-2 to the Malaysian number two Ong Ben Hee.
This a championship which Pontefract’s Saurav Ghosal would almost certainly have won but for his untimely injury.
Pontefract’s second team beat Harrogate seconds 5-0 and with one re-arranged match to play it seems that they will be narrowly beaten to the Division One title by Phoenix.
The team of Adam Taylor, Peter Lonsdale, Simon Gittins, Stuart Hargreaves, Mark Swift and James Fender, all long standing members of the club, represent all that is good in Yorkshire League squash. Three youngsters, Eliot Ridge, Emma Campion (under 13) and Sam Todd (under 11) came away with titles at the Boston Open in Lincolnshire, emphasising the strength of Pontefract’s junior players.
Warrington Wolves, coached by squash enthusiast Tony Smith, pay their second visit of the season to Pontefract this week.
After their first visit they went unbeaten for six matches, for which the squash coaching staff at Pontefract took much credit.
The Wolves will be in expert hands this week. World number four James Willstrop, former world number one Lee Beachill, former world number three Simon Parke and England junior national coach Kirsty McPhee will be looking after the players.