Willstrop wins Cleethorpe’s title for eighth time

Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop. Picture: Scott Merrylees.
Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop. Picture: Scott Merrylees.

Pontefract Squash Club’s James Willstrop first won the Cleethorpes Invitation in 2003 and he made it eight wins in all last weekend in the championship’s 17th year.

Such is the timing and status of the event that it has always attracted quality players.

Previous winners have included former World nnumber one John White, British Open Champion David Evans, former world number four ark Chaloner and Nick Taylor.

The eight man draw involves three matches in less than 24 hours for those that make the final with, unusually, the semi finals and final on the same day.

Willstrop defeated promising youngster Ben Coleman 3-0 first and although he beat one of his training partners Chris Simpson 3-0 in the semi final,it was by no means easy with the first two games 11-9, 15-13 before Simpson’s efforts caught up with him, the third a comfortable 11-3.

Meanwhile Willstrop’s Commonwealth Games doubles bronze medal winning partner Daryl Selby survived a five setter with Jamie Haycocks in his first match before beating Leeds based Eddie Charlton more comfortably 3-1 in his semi final.

Wills trop and Selby have been teammates for England and rivals as juniors and on the World Tour for the best part of 20 years and the final did not disappoint.

Selby began sharply and won the first game comfortably but Willstrop soon levelled the score at 1-1.

The third game seemed likely to be crucial and it was hard fought, Willstrop winning it 11-9 for a 2-1 lead.

Selby, though, is renowned for his resilience and he came back strongly to win the fourth with some ease, the momentum now seemingly with him.

But Willstrop remarkably raced to a 7-0 lead in the fifth and deciding game and there was no way back for Selby as Willstrop claimed the match 11-3.

He now goes to Hong Kong this week, seeded three in the Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Open.

From there he heads to Shanghai for the inaugural men’s China Open in which he is seeded one.

Pontefract juniors continue to succeed and English Under 13 Champion and number one Sam Todd led the way with a comfortable win in the Nottingham Boys Under 15 championships, beating Simon Herbert (Cheshire) in the final.

His main targets for the season will be the British Under 13 Open and Closed Championships, the open having the status of a World Championship for that age group.

Other winners in Nottingham were Amber Copley (under 13 girls) and Amy Royle (under 11 girls).