Young Pontefract star pipped in England final

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Pontefract Squash Club’s remarkably talented nine-year-old Sam Todd was seeded 5/8 in the England Under 13 Championships in Wimbledon.

Despite giving up to three years away to most of his opponents, Sam reached the final and came within an ace of becoming English Under 13 champion, losing 11-7 in the fifth to Jared Carter (Hampshire).

Todd, who has been selected to play for England at under 13 level in France later this month, beat second seeded Richard Hall (Lancashire) 3-0 in the quarterfinals.

He then saw off 3/4 seed Billy Beecroft (Suffolk) 3-1, his opponent about to leave the age group.

At 6-6 in the fifth in the final, it was anybody’s match but Carter edged it 11-7.

Todd has shown himself to be in the same category as James Willstrop at this stage.

Willstrop (pictured) was the most successful junior ever. It culminated in him winning the world under 19 championship in 2002.

Pontefract’s Ellen Cooper narrowly failed to reach the final of the under 13 girls, losing 3-2 to Karina Tyra in the semi final.

Willstrop reached the semi final of the North American Open in Richmond Virginia with two 3-0 wins over Alan Clyne, the Scottish number one, and Miguel Rodriguez, the Columbian number one.

His quarter final opponent Karim Darwish had to withdraw with a calf injury and Willstrop faced current world number one Ramy Ashour in the semi final.

Ashour started brilliantly and led 2-0 before Willstrop recovered to win the third and lose the fourth 11-9.

The match, as contests between them do, delighted the crowd, who accorded them a standing ovation.

Ashour went on to win the title, beating Nick Matthew 3-1 in the final.

The world tour now moves to Kuwait for the Kuwait Cup which Willstrop won last year.