Pontefract star reaches semi-finals in New York

James Willstrop reached the semi-finals.
James Willstrop reached the semi-finals.

Pontefract Squash Club’s James Willstrop is a previous winner of one of the most sought after titles in the world, the Tournament of Champions in New York.

His attempt to win it again ended in the semi finals where he lost 3-1 to the eventual winner Amr Shabana (Egypt).

Shabana is a four times world champion and the most complete player of his generation and maybe of any other generation.

He had already beaten current world number one Nick Matthew 3-2 in the last 16 and he went on to thrash in form Frenchman Gregory Gaultier 3-0 in the final.

Aged 34 Shabana has had to contend with the problems in Egypt which has meant him relocating in Canada and his achievement in beating three of the world’sd top five in a row was remarkable.

To reach the semi final Willstrop beat the Swiss number one Nicolas Mueller 3-1, the Australian number one Cameron Pilley 3-0 and England teammate Peter Barker 3-1.

His next target is the British Championship in Manchester in February where he will be seeded two, having won the title twice.

Pontefract’s Suarav Ghosal lost 3-2 in the first round in America to the German number one Simon Rosner and following on to the Motor City Open in Chicago he lost 3-2 in a brutal two hour match with Columbian number one Miguel Rodriguez, a recent visitor to Pontefract.

Ghosal will be disappointed to have lost them both but both players are ranked higher than the Indian champion.

He will be in Pontefract colours again for the National League match with Birmingham on February 18.

Katie Smith retained her Yorkshire League title in York but Adam Taylor could not repeat last year’s success and he lost to the promising England junior international James Peach (Doncaster) in the final 3-0.

Pontefract’s all conquering Yorkshire league second team, with 13 wins out of 13, look to make it 14 at home to Chapel Allerton second team this week.

Simon Gittins returns from illness and Kirsty McPhee will deputise for the injured Mark Swift.

The Premier side go to Abbeydale and will include the very promising young Malaysian Syafiq Kamal for his second match for the club.

Ellen Cooper led the Yorkshire under 15 girls team to inter county success in a team that included two other Pontefract players Emma Campion and Poppie Jaram.