James Willstrop continues successful run with British title triumph

James Willstrop.
James Willstrop.

James Willstrop added to his Commonwealth gold when he won the British Championship at Nottingham University.

Seeded one, the Pontefract Squash Club star won his first two matches against Harry Falconer (Lincolnshire) and Nathan Lake (Gloucestershire) impressively 3-0 to take his place in the semi-final against Scottish international Greg Lobban.

Despite controlling much of the first game he lost it 11-9, but levelled the match on a second game tiebreak 12-10. Having taken a 2-1 lead he won the fourth game easily for a 3-1 win.

In the final he met second seeded Daryl Selby (Essex), long time England teammate before a sell out crowd, the pair having first played each other in an Under 12 British Junior final.

Willstrop began confidently, winning the first game 11-5, but surprisingly it was Selby who led 7-0 in the second game. Willstrop recovered to 7-all, but it was Selby who took it to level the score.

Willstrop took a 2-1 lead and led 8-6 before a blood injury to Selby caused a delay. On resumption Willstrop served for the title at 10-6, winning it on his second match ball 10-7.

His success in Nottingham adds to a successful run for him, having won the London I Open, the British Universities Championship and a recent final in the Edinburgh Open.

He goes this week to Chicago for the World Championship, which will have record and equal prize money for the women. He plays Malaysian champion Ivan Yuen in the first round with a prospective last 16 match against Miguel Rodriguez, South America’s best ever player.

Willstrop was not the only Pontefract winner at the British Championships. Andrea Santamaria added to her international tally when she beat Nikki Fowler (Cheshire) 3-0 in her division of the Masters event.

Yet another major success came for the club when Sam Todd won the Surrey Under 19 Open, an England Squash Gold Championship, which attracts all the best juniors in the country.

At the same tournament Amy Royle (Under 15) reached the final and both Ben Beachill (Under 15) and Layla Johnson (Under 15) were semi-finalists.