Willstrop reaches Virginia semi-finals

James Willstrop
James Willstrop

PONTEFRACT squash ace James Willstrop’s consistency at the highest world levels this season led to his nomination for world player of the year award.

Although Willstrop (pictured) struggled at the British Championships in Manchester, he re-asserted himself by reaching the semi-finals of the North American Open in Virginia.

Having beaten Yann Perrin (France) and Martin Knight (New Zealand) 3-0 he was impressive in beating Peter Barker, his England teammate, 3-1, to face Ramy Ashour (Egypt) in the semi-final.

The Egyptian won 3-1 in a match which brought a standing ovation.

Willstrop will play for Pontefract Courtcraft in the National League match against Chapel Allerton in Leeds this week.

Pontefract are seeking their third consecutive win and are happily at full strength, with Willstrop, Saurav Ghosal, Simon Parke, Lee Beachill and Vanessa Atkinson.

Willstrop, Ghosal and India’s number one woman player Joshna Chinappa, who has been training at Pontefract, all leave for Chennai this week for the World Cup which is a two man, one woman championship. England are seeded two behind Egypt.

Atkinson retained her British Univerities title in Birmingham by beating Sarah Jane Perry 3-1 in the final and Kirsty McPhee won the third/fourth play off, defeating Julianne Courtice 3-2.

Atkinson and McPhee both study part time at Leeds Carnegie, Atkinson is reading English literature and McPhee sports science.

In the Yorkshire League this week, Pontefract’s Premier League team play Huddersfield at home and the second team take on the third team in what should be an interesting domestic clash.

The second team, which contains such stalwarts as Simon Gittins, Stuart Hargreaves and Peter Lonsdale, are enjoying a fine season and recently took over at the head of the first division.

Sam Todd, still only seven but already with a wealth of experience, is the most promising of many promising juniors in the club and he was outstanding in finishing fifth of 19 in a high quality under 11 Championship at Edgbaston Priory, Birmingham.

Giving away up to three years in age, he won three of his four matches, two of them 3-2, and his only loss was to the top-seeded Jared Carter, a match in which he acquitted himself with credit, despite losing 3-0.

Todd promises to live up to some of the achievements of the very best players to have come out of Pontefract.

Since their visit to Pontefract for squash training Warrington Wolves have recorded two wins out of two, being particularly impressive against St Helens.

Wolves coach Tony Smith has been advised of this and he has already said they will be returning to Pontefract.