Willstrop aims for eighth Cleethorpes title

Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop.
Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop.

With the defence of his China Open at the end of this month, Pontefract Squash Club’s James Willstrop makes his annual visit to Cleethorpes tomorrow (Friday) in an attempt to win the seaside resort’s eight-man invitation tournament for the eighth time.

The Cleethorpes event, now in its 18th year, provides welcome match play as the new season gets underway.

Willstrop won the championship last year, beating Commonwealth doubles partner Daryl Selby in the final, and a repeat is more than possible as the pair are seeded to meet in the final again on Saturday.

English internationals Chris Simpson and Tom Richards are also in the draw.

Last week the Colombian Open in Bogata was the first significant tournament of the year and long time Pontefract player Saurav Ghosal, India’s best ever player, reached the final after a remarkable semi-final win over South America’s best ever player Miguel Rodriguez, the current world number four.

Ghosal led 2-0,but Rodriguez levelled the score at 2-2 and led 10-7 in the fifth and deciding game before Ghosal won five points in a row to reach the final after over 100 minutes. In the final, he faced Alfredo Avila (Mexico) and the exertions of the semi final proved too much as he lost 3-1 .

Pontefract’s Jack Cooper, who has the distinction of winning a scholarship to Harvard University,has left for America.

Part of his scholarship is squash based and he will be part of the university team in a country which sets much store by inter collegiate sport.

Pontefract juniors began the season in style with three winners at the Grantham Open, all playing out of their age group. They were Ben Sockett (under 17). Amber Copley (under 15) and Amy Royle (under 13).

Brother Joe Royle almost made it a family double, losing on a tiebeak in the final game, and Laura Longfield was also runner up in the under 17 girls event.

With such as Sam Todd, Elliot Ridge, Ellen Cooper, Harry Anderson, Asia Harris and Layla Johnson yet to move into action, it is clear that Pontefract juniors will have a major impact on tournaments this season.