World class stars prepare at Pontefract for British Open

James Willstrop lost to world number one Mohammed El Shorbagy in the first round.
James Willstrop lost to world number one Mohammed El Shorbagy in the first round.

The Allam British Squash Open played for the third time in Hull this week has seen an influx of world class professionals preparing at Pontefract.

They include Indian sportsperson of the year and Leeds University graduate Saurav Ghosal and New Zealand’s world top five player Joelle King, returning from an achilles injury.

Also prepararing at Pontefract have been Commonwealth gold medallist Joshana Chinappa and established England internationald Emma Beddoes and Jenny Duncalf.

Added to them is Hollie Naughton, the recent runner up in the Canadian Championships, promising young American Sabrina Sobhy and Eddie Charlton who have also been at Pontefract.

Pontefract’s James Willstrop world ranking has dropped after his long term hip injury and he therefore faced world number one Mohammed El Shorbagy in the first round , a match that would certainly have been acceptable as a final before Willstrop’s injury.

Shorbagy said in an interview after the match that when he saw the draw it took him some time to recover from the fact that they would be playing in the first round.

In front of a large expectant crowd the pair did not disappoint and although the Egyptian won 3-1 Willstrop will be well pleased with his performance,since he took the second game in style and forced Shorbagy to play close to his best.

Ghosal, too, faced a tough first round draw against the Spanish number one Borja Golan and the 3-0 scoreline certainly did not reflect the closeness of the match, Ghosal having led in both of the first two games which he lost narrowly 11-9, 11-9.

Many of Pontefract’s outstanding junior players, several of whom are now pupils at Ackworth School, were in attendance in Hull and they continued their outstanding season with a series of wins at The Chapel Allerton Open.

Elliot Ridge (under 17), Amy Royle (under 13 girls), adding to her success at the Boston Open the previousweek, and Asia Harris (under 11 girls)were all winners.

Both Pontefract’s men’s and women’s teams have reached the finals of the National inter clubs championships in Birmingham this weekend.