PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop has climbed to second in the world rankings after a series of outstanding results in the last two months.
Willstrop (pictured) continued his recent magnificent form by winning the Kuwait Cup final on Tuesday evening.
He reached the final in Kuwait City by winning four matches 3-0. It meant he had played nine successive matches at the highest world levels without dropping a game, a remarkable achievement in these ultra competitive days.
In Kuwait, he beat three Englishmen Chris Simpson, Alister Walker and world number seven Peter Barker to reach the semi-finals.
In the semis, he saw off Frenchman Gregory Gaultier 11-9, 11-6, 11-3 in 58 minutes to book a place in the final against Egypt’s Karim Darwish - the man he beat in the final of the Hong Kong Open two weeks ago.
He repeated his Hong Kong victory over Darwish by defeating him 3-1 on Tuesday.
Third-seeded Willstrop won the first game 11-7 and although Darwish claimed a hard-earned 12-10 victory in the second set, the Pontefract player totally dominated the next two games, winning 11-4, 11-2. Willstrop has now won 14 of his last 21 matches against Darwish and, more impressively, nine of the last ten.
Willstrop said: “I am incredibly pleased. This has grown into such a massive event and I am so proud I managed to beat Karim to win it.
“When you try to back up two tournaments the odds are always against you but I was pleased with the way I played.”
Willstrop has one more tournament in 2011, the Punj Lloyd in Delhi in mid December and will return to action early in January for the prestigious World Series for the world’s top eight players at the Queen’s Club in London.
Ramy Ashour is due to return to action after injury in India but world number one Nick Matthew pulled out at the quarter final stage in Kuwait with an abductor problem. Pontefract’s Sauarv Ghosal had one of his best results this season when he beat talented Egyptian Tarek Momen 3-2 in Kuwait and then lost a close 3-1 to Dutch number one, the in- form Laurens Anjema.
Pontefract’s first Yorkshire Premier League side go to Heaton this week after losing 4-1 to Chapel Allerton last week. Vanessa Atkinson, recovered from a back injury, was the the only winner.
In the National League Pontefract travel to Nottingham next Tuesday hopeful of including Willstrop for the first time this season.
The second Premier League team came very close to beating league leaders Dunnington. Wins by Adam Taylor and England international Emma Beddoes, making her debut for the club since her move to Leeds, meant that everything hinged on the fifth string match in which Kirsty McPhee lost 11-9 in the fifth.
Elliot Ridge, one of many promising Pontefract youngsters, won the Huddersfield Under 13 Open, beating Ben Merchant (Chapel Allerton) 3-2 in the final.
Ridge continues to improve and is already playing senior squash in the Leeds Metro League.
Leeds Rhinos, after their outstanding end to the Super League season, visit the club this week for a morning’s squash and another famous visitor this week will be former Manchester United footballer Roy Keane, who will accompany former Leeds and current Warrington coach Tony Smith, a regular squash player. Keane will be trying his luck on the squash court.