Willstrop prepares for new campaign

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

Pontefract Squash Club’s James Willstrop plays the Cleethorpes Invitation on Friday and Saturday, August 23 and 24. It is a tournament he has won five times.

It provides welcome match play as the world number three prepares for the new season. He will play the Netsuite Open in San Francisco, the US Open in Philadelphia and the European Club team Championships in Riccione, Italy, all in September, as he prepares for the World Championships in Manchester at the end of October.

He ended the 2012-2013 season winning the deciding match in the 31-strong World Team championships in France as England beat top-seeded Egypt 2-1.

Also in Riccione will be the Pontefract women’s team who will be defending their European club team title.

Domestically the first event of the season at Pontefract is the Lesley Willstrop Memorial doubles, which has raised over £25,000 for various charities.

The club will have four Yorkshire League teams and full representation in the Leeds Metro league.

The Yorkshire League first team should be strong challengers for the Premier League title with Adam Taylor, Taminder Gata-Aura, Alex Hodgetts, Sam Wileman and Jack Cooper providing a quality group of young players.

Of much interest this season will be the progress made by some of the club’s outstanding juniors. They include Sam Todd, 10, the English under 11 champion and England Under 13 international, Ellen Cooper, England under 13 international, the much improved Eliot Ridge, another improver Ben Sockett and eight year old Layla Johnson, who won her first under 11 Open at the end of last season.

Many international overseas players came to Pontefract in 2012-2013 including South American number one Miguel Rodriguez, Australian international Christine Nunn and most recently the Dutch number one Laurens Anjema.

Three outstanding Indians are due in early September as well as a New Zealand under 19 international.

The club has set up a fund to provide squash coaching for children who otherwise might not get the opportunity.

Already Airedale Junior school have benefitted from the scheme, 40 children having had regular coaching and this will resume when the children return to school in September.