British Champion Willstrop Maintains Winning Ways For Pontefract In PSL
21 Feb 2007
Just two days after becoming British National Champion for the first time in Manchester, James Willstrop maintained his winning ways for his club in the seventh round of the Premier League (PSL) - but the 23-year-old was the sole victor as Pontefract slumped to a 4/1 home defeat in Group A to league newcomers Esporta Oxford, leaving the Yorkshire club still awaiting their first success of the season in the England Squash league sponsored by Clowes Insurance.
League champions Benz-Bavarian Duffield, in their first outing of the second half of the season, reclaimed their leadership in Group A after clinching a 3/2 away win at University of Birmingham - while Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon held onto top position in Group B, despite losing 4/1 at Tinos Homes Chichester. Second-placed Luxfords St George's Hill narrowed the gap behind their Surrey rivals by beating Redwood Probuild Bristol 3/2 at home.
Pontefract were planning to unleash their two heavyweights Willstrop and Lee Beachill side-by-side for the first time this season in their hosting of the Oxford squad. But Beachill, the three-times British National champion who was forced to give up his 2007 campaign at the semi-final stage after suffering a freak training injury, was still incapacitated by the trapped nerve in his neck - and unavailable for service.
Esporta Oxford duly scythed through the Yorkshire club opposition as Irish champion Madeline Perry, Scotland's Kristen Johnson, World University champion Chris Ryder and local star Scott Handley picked up straight games wins.
In the evening's climax, it took four games for Willstrop to overcome the Oxford top string Cameron Pilley - the England star despatching the world No21 from Australia 9-5, 6-9, 9-5, 9-3 as the local crowd cheered home their new champion.
Duffield team manager Brian Hargrave predicted a 3/2 win for his Derbyshire club's visit to Birmingham - and, despite the last -minute absence of their leading stars, former British champions Nick Matthew and Tania Bailey, as a result of ankle injury and sinus troubles, respectively, his forecast proved correct.
Bailey's replacement Laura Hill, the local star fresh from a first-ever quarter-final appearance in last week's British Nationals, faced the in-form Laura-Jane Lengthorn, a first-time semi-finalist in Manchester. Lengthorn crushed Hill 9-0, 9-4, 9-5 in 25 minutes to give the home cub an early lead. But visitors Laurence Delasaux, Andrew Whipp and Lee Drew fought back to ensure overall victory for the PSL title-holders - before Birmingham number one Joey Barrington reduced the deficit with a 9-6, 9-6, 6-9, 9-5 victory over Duffield's Jonathan Kemp in the final match.
League newcomers Luxfords St George's Hill registered their fourth successive PSL win of the season by beating Redwood Probuild Bristol - and are now just five points shy of their Croydon rivals in the Group B standings.
It was predictably one-all when up-and-coming England star Daryl Selby faced Welshman David Evans, the former British Open champion and world No3. The experienced Bristol third string took the opening two games - but plucky Selby fought back to record an impressive 6-9, 9-11, 9-7, 9-3, 9-1 win to give the hosts a significant advantage.
When Gloucestershire's Alister Walker - another England star of the future - defeated the visitors' Australian international Joseph Kneipp 9-6, 10-8, 6-9, 9-3, it clinched the home club win which team manager Danny Lee described as "a great result for Luxfords St George's".
Malaysia's world No17 Mohd Azlan Iskandar's return to the Tinos Homes Chichester squad after a season's absence signalled the Sussex club's best home win of the season - against group leaders Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon. Team captain Tim Vail, who last week became the first unseeded player to reach the British Nationals quarter-finals for eight years, kicked off the Chichester night in fine style, beating Irishman Steve Richardson 9-4, 10-8, 9-7.
Club stalwart Peter Genever and indefatigable Welshman Alex Gough chalked up important five-game victories to ensure a home win - Gough against another Manchester Nationals' star Ben Ford. But Iskandar was in sparkling form on his return to the south coast club, despatching Italian No1 Davide Bianchetti 9-7, 9-2, 9-3 to ensure a 4/1 win for the hosts.
7th round, Tuesday 20 February 2007
Pontefract 1 Esporta Oxford 4
James Willstrop bt Cameron Pilley 9-5, 6-9, 9-5, 9-3
Ryan Thompson lost to Scott Handley 5-9, 5-9, 3-9
Sam Wileman lost to Chris Ryder 5-9, 2-9, 5-9
Adam Taylor lost to Kristen Johnson 3-9, 1-9, 4-9
Kirsty McPhee lost to Madeline Perry 5-9, 0-9, 4-9
University of Birmingham 2 Benz-Bavarian Duffield 3
Joey Barrington bt Jonathan Kemp 9-6, 9-6, 6-9, 9-5 (43m)
Jonathan Harford lost to Lee Drew 2-9, 9-11, 9-7, 10-12 (55m)
Joel Hinds lost to Andrew Whipp 11-9, 4-9, 2-9, 5-9 (46m)
Tom Power lost to Laurence Delasaux 6-9, 4-9, 1-9 (21m)
Laura-Jane Lengthorn bt Laura Hill 9-0, 9-4, 9-5 (25m)
Tinos Homes Chichester 4 Surrey Health & Racquets Croydon 1
Mohd Azlan Iskandar bt Davide Bianchetti 9-7, 9-2, 9-3
Alex Gough bt Ben Ford 9-7, 7-9, 4-9, 9-2, 9-1
Peter Genever bt Shahid Khan 9-0, 3-9, 9-11, 9-6, 10-8
Tim Vail bt Steve Richardson 9-4, 10-8, 9-7
Line Hansen lost to Lauren Briggs 6-9, 5-9, 7-9
Luxfords St George's Hill 3 Redwood Probuild Bristol 2
Renan Lavigne lost to Adrian Grant 8-10, 9-6, 3-9, 9-6, 1-9
Alister Walker bt Joseph Kneipp 9-6, 10-8, 6-9, 9-3
Daryl Selby bt David Evans 6-9, 9-11, 9-7, 9-3, 9-1
John Rooney bt Hadrian Stiff 6-9, 9-0, 9-4, 9-7
Adel Weir lost to Tegwen Malik 4-9, 0-9, 4-9