Squash: James Willstrop column FEB 15

Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop

Pontefract Squash Club's James Willstrop

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The National Squash Championships, regarded with esteem by players old and young, who come from all over the country every year to compete, ran its course during the last week.

Over the last decade the tournament has been an unprecedented success, much due to its constancy on the calendar, the venue at which it is staged – Sportcity in Manchester – and the support of its patrons and sponsors.

Much of the financial support is and has been provided by Manchester City Council, whose dedication to sport in the city since the Commonwealth Games of 2002 has been unflinching.

Two new champions were crowned on Sunday evening: Daryl Selby beat world number one Sheffield’s Nick Matthew in the final in five games in an upset few would have predicted and Laura Massaro completed the best two weeks of her career by beating Harrogate’s Jenny Duncalf to win, also in five games.

Only last week Laura beat world number one Nicol David, who has been unbeaten for over a year, in the Cleveland Classic.

The spectators were treated to 10 superb games of world-level squash and were certainly given their money’s worth. The results prove that squash is as exciting and competitive as it has ever been.

On a personal level I wasn’t able to get anywhere near to retaining the title that I have won twice in the past; I lost in the quarter-finals to Jonathan Kemp, who was simply too good for me on the day.

I now hope to regroup this week, before going to Virginia for the North American Open on Friday.

This evening sees the next round of matches in the Premier Squash League.

Pontefract play Oxford and with a strong squad to boot. Saurav Ghosal and I play in the same fixture for only the second time this season, which we both hope will give the side a sufficient boost so that it might free itself from the bottom spot in the group.

The last couple of fixtures at Pontefract have been occasions to remember and the team hopes to produce another tonight.

The Warrington Wolves will be trying their hand at squash this morning under the tutelage of head coach Malcolm Willstrop.

Several of the Super League managers have used Pontefract’s facilities and coaching expertise in the past and they deem a morning of squash as a suitable distraction for the players.

There has been a mutual respect between the two sports for several years now; Leeds Rhinos, Bradford, Castleford and now Warrington have all spent time playing squash on occasion.

LOSING OUT: Nick Matthew, who was surprisingly beaten by Daryl Selby in the Manchester final

James Willstrop, lefvt, in action against Mohamed ElShorbagy in Dubai. Picture courtesy of PSA

James Willstrop denied in World Series Finals by resurgent Mohamed ElShorbagy