The European Club Team Championships at Pontefract Squash Club last week illustrated all that is good about the game of squash.
World number eight Mathieu Castagnet (France), Simon Rosner (Germany) and two former world number ones James Willstrop and David Palmer all played as well as numerous other players of international standard.
Hollie Naughton, the Canadian champion, Guyanan number one Nicolette Fernandez, England international Sarah Kippax and one of the game’s leading players in the last decade Natalie Grinham (Holland) were all in action, alongside players from less developed countries, a rare happening in any sport.
Pontefract, as the host club,had men’s and women’s teams competing and the women excelled, reaching the final in which they lost 2-0 to English champions Edgbaston Priory.
It could well have gone to a deciding match,since for a while Katie Smith had control in her match, leading 1-0 and 8-3 before going down 3-1.
Pontefract men’s team finished fourth,but had James Willstrop been available for more than two matches out of five, they might have finished higher.
Willstrop was particularly impressive in the group match against the French team Mulhouse, beating Castagnet 3-0.
German team Paderborner have a fine record in the event. Led by Rosner and England international Chris Simpson, they won the men’s title, beating another side with an outstanding record Black and White Rackets Worms 3-1.
The prizes to Paderborner and Edgbaston Priory were presented by European president Zena Wooldridge, assisted by club owner Michael Todd and Giles Choice.
To stage a championship of such magnitude requires a great deal of organisation and under Michael Todd’s direction there is no doubt the club excelled.
Pontefract is fortunate to have as a long term member a tournament director Terry Dudley whose reputation is second to none.
He and his team as well as the hard worked referees directed by Josh Garvey deserve much credit for their efforts.
The Yorkshire League season begins this week when Pontefract’s two Premier League teams will be in action.
The first team are at home to Abbeydale Park Sheffield’s second team and the second team are away to Abbeydale firsts.
Both teams have plenty of quality and depth and should make their presence felt.
The world masters for men and women takes place in Johannesberg, South Africa, this week with age groups ranging from over 35 to over 80.
There is a record entry of 951 which makes the rejection of squash by the International Olympic Committee unfathomable.
Pontefract will be strongly represented.
Andrea Santamaria is seeded three in the over 45 age group but could face the daunting presence of one of the world’s all time greats, Australian Sarah Fitzgerald, a Pontefract player of the past.
Julie Field is seeded four in the over 60 age group.
Both women have excellent records in world class events.
Also competing for Pontefract are Steve Green, Shaun O’Donohue and Peter Field, as well as former Pontefract player and now South African resident Kingsley Child.
They will have supporters there too in Gary Siddall, Carole and Declan O’ Donohue as well as another South African resident, Gary’s daughter Lauren, a former England junior international.