9:05 am
24 Jul 2024

Willstrop Back In Manchester After Almost Quitting

6 Feb 2012

A year after almost quitting the sport, Yorkshire's world number two James Willstrop is back in Manchester this week where he is seeded to win the 2012 British National Squash Championships at the National Squash Centre.

It was at last year's event that the 28-year-old from Leeds suffered a shock quarter-final defeat - and later admitted he "felt genuinely happy to be out of the event.

"At this stage I am too far gone," he said following his early exit. "Perhaps, because of my appetite for achievement, I have lost some of the love of playing that I had as a child."

Willstrop reveals these feelings in his autobiography Shot and a Ghost which will be launched this week.

But, in a remarkable turnaround, Willstrop went on to finish 2011 with the best run of his career - winning three elite PSA World Series events in succession in Hong Kong, Kuwait and India, which took him to number one in the world rankings in January.

The ranking led Willstrop to claim top seeding in this week's Nationals. But his greatest rival, the fellow Yorkshireman Nick Matthew, has now reclaimed the world No1 spot and is expected to line up against Willstrop in Sunday's British final - the first between the top two players in the world.

The 2012 British National Squash Championships get underway tomorrow (Tuesday) and will be celebrating the 16th successive year in Manchester - and its tenth appearance at the National Squash Centre, the unique venue which was built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games and boasts a permanently-sited all-glass court.

Both Willstrop and Matthew face qualifiers in the first round.

A last-minute change in the men's draw was made today following the withdrawal of third seed Peter Barker, the world No7 from London with a knee injury. Defending champion Daryl Selby moves up to third seed and fellow Londoner Adrian Grant is elevated to No4 seed.

Gloucestershire Anthony Graham now becomes the 16th seed - and, as the qualifying event is already underway, Derbyshire's 11th seed Joel Hinds will await a 'Lucky Loser'.

Revised Men's 1st round draw:
[1] James Willstrop (Yorks) v Qualifier
[12] Andy Whipp (Cheshire) v Declan James (Notts)
[6] Chris Ryder (Herts) v Qualifier
[16] Anthony Graham (Glos) v Qualifier
[4] Adrian Grant (Kent) v Neil Cordell (Yorks)
[9] Robbie Temple (Glos) v Qualifier
[5] Tom Richards (Surrey) v Qualifier
[14] Eddie Charlton (Notts) v Adam Murrills (Cheshire)
[10] Joe Lee (Surrey) v Stephen Siveter (Merseyside)
[8] Adrian Waller (Herts) v Qualifier
[11] Joel Hinds (Derbyshire) v (Lucky Loser)
[3] Daryl Selby (Essex) v Qualifier
[13] Charles Sharpes (Surrey) v Simon Parke (Yorks)
[7] Chris Simpson (Hants) v Ben Coleman (Essex)
[15] Jaymie Haycocks (Shropshire) v Alex Ingham (Surrey)
[2] Nick Matthew (Yorks) v Qualifier

Tickets for the British National Squash Championships - Manchester 2012 can be booked online at www.isportgroup.com/ticketing, or by telephone on 0844-870 0000 - or for further help and information email: info@isportgroup.com

For more general details of the 2012 National Championships, please visit the official website: www.nationalsquashchamps.co.uk