Willstrop aiming to get back to his best

Alll the indications are that James Willstrop will soon be back to something close to his best.
Alll the indications are that James Willstrop will soon be back to something close to his best.

Pontefract squash star James Willstrop’s recovery from hip surgery moved on apace in Chicago at the Guggenheim Windy City Open.

In his first match since having to withdraw after the first round of the British Championships in Manchester, he beat the Mexican number one Cesar Salazar in convincing style 3-1 to face England teammate and number five seed Peter Barker.

Willstrop was 1-0 and 2-1 down before levelling the match at 2-2, looking a possible winner.

It was Barker, though, who started the fifth the better and although Willstrop fought back from a 5-0 deficit, Barker prevailed 3-2.

Willstrop came through the match well physically and all the indications are that he will soon be back to something close to his best.

He plays French League in Paris next , then for Pontefract in the National League against Birmingham, before heading to London for the Canary Wharf Classic where he won the inaugural tournament in 2004 and four times altogether.

Laurens Anjema, the Dutch number one, who has also had a long term injury and who returned to action in Chicago, will play his first match in the National League match this week so Pontefract will field a strong side of Willstrop, Anjema, Lee Beachill, Ben Grindrod and Katie Smith.

Ben Beachill, despite having been out of action for some time, became the fourth Pontefract junior this season to reach number one in the England ranking list.

Elliot Ridge, Sam Todd and Ellen Cooper are the other three with Layla Johnson almost making it five. She is likely to go to number one in May as the number one ranked player leaves the age group.

Pontefract juniors completed another successful weekend.

Ridge won the Leicester under 19s and Todd the under15’s, despite having only flown back from Chicago the previous day.

Clark had her first tournament success when winning the Halifax under 15 open and there were runners up in Asia Harris in Leicester and Jordan Stewart in Halifax.

Pontefract’s first Yorkshire League Premier side lost 3-2 to Chapel Allerton, with wins from Kyle Maree and Lewis Doughty. Adam Taylor had a match ball which would have given his side victory.

The third team had a 5-0 win over AF Squash.