Leeds squash ace James Willstrop admits he’ll enjoy an extra special Christmas after achieving a lifelong ambition – to become world number one.
Yorkshire Evening Post columnist Willstrop won his third consecutive World Series tournament in Delhi at the weekend – victory in the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters lifting him above fellow Yorkshireman Nick Matthew and into the coveted number one spot.
And while admitting his next goal is to keep hold of his top ranking, the 28-year-old Pontefract-born star intends to savour his “incredible” achievement.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever been world number one and it’s an incredibly special feeling,” Willstrop said.
“It’s the kind of thing you are always thinking about – how it would be a dream scenario to be world number one – though really the main thing you are thinking about is playing from tournament to tournament.
“Having won these three tournaments in a row it has all just fallen into place and it’s an incredible feeling to have and to be able to share with all the people who have been there for me and helped me.
“To be the best in the world at anything is pretty damn special.”
Victory in the Punj Lloyd PSA Masters followed back-to-back successes in November in the Hong Kong Open and Kuwait PSA Cup.
Willstrop is now back on English soil having flown into London yesterday morning and is adamant there has been no hidden secret to his recent improvement.
The 6ft 4ins star’s current success has ironically coincided with the writing of his new book but Willstrop knows that his success is unlikely to be down to that.
“It has coincided with the book coming out but it’s a funny one and lots of people have asked that – why has it happened?” he said.
“But people forget that this is something I have been working hard for, for such a long time and it’s like anything – if you are a writer, a singer or a sportsman, whatever you do, you aim to reach a standard that has been a lifetime’s work.
“Maybe it’s just because I have kept scrapping away because nothing has changed in winning these three tournaments.”
Next up for Willstrop is the World Series Finals in London beginning on January 4 with the British Open and World Championship other big dates on the 2012 menu.
Willstrop is now officially the man to beat and admits after digesting his achievements the aim will be to keep his ranking for as long as he possibly can.
“The next tournament comes around on January 4 and I am just going to enjoy it because it won’t come round again,” he said.
“It’s also coincided with the Christmas period and having a few days off which is nice and that’s the main thing – to just enjoy it.
“After that I will just be trying to hold on to it for as long as I can.”