Pontefract ace back on top of the world

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PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop (pictured) has reclaimed the world number one ranking.

He became world number one in January but dropped to number two in February after losing in the final of the Tournament of Champions in New York to fellow Yorkshireman Nick Matthew.

However, he is back at number one from today (Thursday).

When he beat Amr Shabana (Egypt) in the quarterfinals of the North Ameriacn Open in Virginia he was guaranteed to regain number one ranking and having done that he went on to win the championship.

Before Shabana, Willstrop beat Swiss number one Nicolas Mueller 3-0 and former world number one Thierry Lincou (France) 3-0.

Shabana was 1-0 down when he retired hurt which meant that Willstrop played world number three Gregory Gaultier (France) in the semi finals.

Despite losing the second game,Willstrop beat Gaultier 3-1 in a match that lasted 97 minutes.

In the final, Willstrop beat Ramy Ashour (Egypt) who, on his return from injury, had impressively beaten world number four Karim Darwish (Egypt) and world champion Matthew.

Willstrop played probably as well as he has ever done to defeat Ashour 3-0.

His control of the ball, for which he is renowned, reached even greater heights and playing with great composure and seemingly not affected by the 97 minute long semi final the previous night, he controlled Ashour from the beginning and never looked in danger of defeat.

Success in Virginia means Willstrop has won four of the last five world series events, losing in the final of the other. It is consistency of a high order.

He now looks likely to retain his number one ranking for much of 2012.

His next tournament will be the Canary Wharf Classic later this month, a championship he has won three times.

Pontefract’s National League team to visit Birmingham this week contains India’s number one man and woman players Saurav Ghosal and Dipika Pallikal.

World number 14 Pallikal has made dramatic progress this season and makes her debut for Pontefract in the National League.

Lee Beachill and Simon Parke both play and it is still possible that Willstrop will lead the team.

Ghosal and Pallikal will also play for the club in the Yorkshire premier league match against Barnsley at home this week.

Jed Nowell reached the final of the Fairways Lodge under 11s, beating Oliver Hall (Derbyshire), who was seeded two and ranked 16 in the country, in the semi final.

In the final he lost to Sam Sellars (Cheshire) who has a national ranking of nine.

Sam Todd and Eliot Ridge go to Chessington this week for the Surrey under 13 championship. Both are showing much promise at high levels.

Warrington Wolves coach Tony Smith, a keen squash player, and Richard Agar, the Wakefield Wildcats coach, were put through their paces at the club last week by Pontefract coach Malcolm Willstrop. From all accounts they both struggled physically the next day.