Willstrop happy with form in season opener

Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop
Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop

PONTEFRACT’S world number one James Willstrop and Indian champion Saurav Ghosal started the new squash season at the 14th Cleethorpes invitation tournament.

The eight-man event has been won by some illustrious names including former world number one John White, former British Open champion David Evans and seven times champion Willstrop.

Pontefract players Willstrop and Ghosal have had unbroken preparations for the season ahead and Cleethorpes provided some welcome match play.

They both reached the final with two 3-0 wins. Willstrop beat South African Shaun Le Roux and Chris Simpson and Ghosal defeated Joe Lee and Chris Ryder, though two of the games against Lee went to tiebreaks.

The semi finals and final are played on the same day, which is quite a test at this stage of the season, but the full house that turned up for the final were not to be disappointed as the pair produced a high quality match which augurs well for what lies ahead of them.

Ghosal, who is one of the quickest players on the world tour, edged the first game 12-10 and also won the second on a tiebreak this time 15-13.

At 2-0 down Willstrop faced a difficult task.

Although Willstrop led 5-1 in the third, he was unable to capitalise and it was Ghosal who took the title 11-8 for a deserved success.

Ghosal now goes this week to the Malaysian Open where he meets European Champion and Finnish numkber one Olli Tuominen in the first round.

If he produces the form he showed in Cleethorpes he will be a difficult proposition for any player in the world.

Willstrop was quite happy with his form in the final and he heads for Prague and the European Club Championship finals in which he will be playing for Mulhouse, the French champions.

Several of the world’s top players are in action there so it will be a thorough test.

Willstrop and Ghosal will both be playing in the first major PSA world tour event of the season, the British Grand Prix at Manchester Sports City in two weeks time.

Pontefract’s women’s team, as England Club champions, will also be in Prague and will have Dutch international Orla Noom and Welsh international Deon Saffery leading the side.

Pontefract’s army of junior players have already been in action in Newcastle last weekend and they will be playing the regional championships at Chapel Allerton and Pontefract this weekend.

The club’s outstanding nine-year-old Sam Todd and the vastly improved Eliot Ridge will be playing regularly in the Yorkshire Senior League this season. Matches start next week.