Squash club’s junior coaching systems strong as ever

Pontefract's former world number one James Willstrop.
Pontefract's former world number one James Willstrop.

Pontefract Squash Club’s junior coaching systems have produced many England internationals and two world number ones in Lee Beachill and James Willstrop.

Proof that the systems are stronger than ever is that five juniors - Elliot Ridge (under 15), Ellen Cooper (under 15), Sam Todd (under 13), Ben Beachill (under 11) and Layla Johnson (under 11) - have all been ranked number one in England during the 2014-2015 season.

Todd showed that he is not just international standard but also world class when he won the 3/4 playoff at the British Junior Under 13 Open in January, a year young. This championship has the unofficial status of a world title.

Other juniors who have yet to play for England but are of international class are Harry Anderson, Ben Sockett and Layla Johnson.

Asia Harris and Joe Royle are two others with international possibilities.

Nor is it likely that there is an end to the production line which has produced all these players.

There is a large group of players from the age of two who are coached regularly.

Joining them recently was 17 month old Logan, son of James Willstrop and Vanessa Atkinson, and James Barker, the two year old son of England Institute of Sport fitness expertKeith.

There has been a long list of open tournament winners this season and Laura Longfield (under 15 girls) and Asia Harris (under 13 girls) were successful at the Manchester Open.

Harris did particularly well to come from 2-0 down in both the semi final and final to win both matches 3-2.

There is a major tournament in Hull this weekend, the Allam Junior Open, when many of Pontefract’s top juniors will be in action with hopes of further successes.

Several schools are coached at the Pontefract club and Airedale Junior School, who were the first, will resume early in June.

Many coaches are involved but a major figure is Jayne Robinson, previously better known as a local bookmaker, who has made appearances on Channel 4 Racing.