Willstrop enjoys victory over big rival

James Willstrop
James Willstrop
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PONTEFRACT Squash Club’s James Willstrop has retained his World number one ranking at the start of April and increased his lead over second-ranked Gregory Gaultier, of France.

Prospects of him retaining his position as the world’s leading player look favourable, principally because of his outstandingly consistent form.

Willstrop goes to El Gouna, Egypt, this week, seeded one with a draw that sees Gaultier, Nick Matthew, Amr Shabana and Ramy Ashour all in the opposite half.

The Pontefract player is seeded to meet Karim Darwish in the semi-finals, but will still have to face strong challenges from Swiss number one Nicolas Mueller, Pontefract team-mate Saurav Ghosal and Tarik Momen, a trio of talented younger players, to get there.

Playing in the German League finals for Paderborn, Germany’s top club, Willstrop recorded a long overdue win over Matthew, 3-1, in the first of a two-legged final.

Willstrop did not play in the second leg, but Paderborn went on to take the title.

Meanwhile his biography, Shot and a Ghost, heads the best selling list in Amazon’s rackets sports. James will be conducting book signings in April at the Northern Club, Newcastle, Yarm Squash Club, North Yorkshire, at the Montpelier Club, in France, as well as at Waterstones, in Leeds.

Sam Todd, just 9, has been playing Leeds Senior Metro League squash this season and made his debut in the Yorkshire League, playing for the fourth team against a powerful Doncaster first team.

Despite losing 3-0, Todd defended remarkably, played some outstanding shots and showed why he is the best English prospect since former World no.1 Lee Beachill and current World no 1 James Willstrop. Dipika Pllikal, India’s number one woman player, who has been training recently at Pontefract, had an outstanding tournament in the Malaysian Open.

She won through the qualifier, beating the top class Nour el Tayeb and then beat World no 7 Kasey Brown (Australia) 3-0 before losing to the world’s outstanding woman player, Nicole David (Malaysia), now established as an all-time great.

Jack Cooper won the Humberside Under 17 Open, beating Josh Tufnell (Suffolk) 3-1 in the semi-final and Luke Parker 3-0 in the final. Sister Ellen is showing similar promise at under 13 level and with Jack already having represented England at under 15 level she may well follow in his footsteps.