Pontefract star beats two top-class opponents

Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop. Picture: Steve Line/SquashPics.com.
Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop. Picture: Steve Line/SquashPics.com.

PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop, newly recovered from virus problems, produced two top class performances in the Bellevue Classic in Seattle.

He beat Hong Kong’s Asian champion Max Lee and Spanish number one Borja Golan.

Having led 2-1 against Lee, Willstrop found himself 9-7 down in the fifth and deciding game. Keeping his composure he won four points in a row to win the match 11-9.

In the quarter-finals against Golan he played with outstanding control to lead 2-0 but Golan fought strongly to level at 2-2.

Once again Willstrop was down in the fifth, this time 10-7, which gave his opponent three match balls, but he held his game together well to win the next five points to win a place in the semi-finals 3-2.

Two long and demanding matches of 80 and 90 minutes left him with little in reserve for his semi-final against Gregory Gaultier (France), the best player in the world.

Unlike Willstrop he had reached the semi-final with some ease and although Willstrop battled well the Frenchman won 3-0 and then went on to beat Ali Farag (Egypt) 3-0 in the final, winning the top class event without dropping a single game.

Willstrop will be well pleased with his performances at the tournament. They will stand him in good stead for the World Series finals for the top eight in Dubai in early June.

Pontefract will have two teams in the newly formed Yorkshire Summer League and the fixtures begin next week when the Stuart Road club’s two teams face one another.

Hollie Naughton. who trains at Pontefract, recently retained her Canadian Championship in Toronto, beating Danielle Letourneau 3-2.

Airedale Junior School’s long association with Pontefract Squash Club resumes this week when 20 children have the first of six sessions of coaching and educational sporting research.

The venture is funded by the club’s foundation and over four years children have been given the opportunity to play and be coached at squash and to learn and write about the game.