Pontefract ace keen to emulate James Willstrop and Lee Beachill
By Squash Mad Reporter
The Pontefract squash factory has produced another champion, with 12-year-old Sam Todd becoming England’s first male player to win a British Junior Open title since celebrated Ponte graduate James Willstrop in 2002.
Todd, son of club owner Mick, defeated the 3/4 seed, Muhammad Azhar from Malaysia, 11-7, 3-11, 15-13, 11-5 in the Boys Under-13 final at the Abbeydale club in Sheffield.
Both Willstrop and Lee Beachill have gone on to reach the world number one position and youngster Todd would love to emulate their achievements in the game.
The 12-year-old said: “It feels awesome to be the first winner since James. It’s been a long time since the last English winner. I now want to try and win every age category like James did.”
Like so many Pontefract players who have gone on to achieve great things in the game, Todd has been coached by Malcolm Willstrop, father of James and big brother Christy.
His victory followed wins in the Dutch and US Junior Opens and delighted proud father Mick, who said: “I am ecstatic. It’s all about how he does it. Sam is a breath of fresh air in how he plays the game.”
Sam dropped only one game in the whole competition, and that was in the final.
His name will feature alongside many famous players, including Egypt’s Ramy Ashour, who lifted the British Under-13 title in Sheffield in 1999 and 2000.
The home nation were happy with the performance of their juniors overall, with 11 English players finishing in the top eight of their respective age groups, including three semi-finalists.
In the Boys Under-19s, Kyle Finch vastly outperformed his 9/16 seeding to finish fourth overall. Finch lost in the semi final to the eventual winner, top seed Youssef Soliman. He was closely followed by Patrick Rooney and James Peach, who finished fifth and sixth respectively.
The second seed in the Girls Under-19s, Georgina Kennedy, recovered from a disappointing semi final loss to finish third overall while her close friend and Kent team-mate Amelia Henley finished fifth.
Lucy Turmel and Jamine Hutton performed as expected in the Girls Under-17s, both placing in the top eight.
In the Girls Under-15s, Alice Green justified her 5/8 seeding to finish seventh.
There was more success for England in the Boys Under-13s as Sam Osborne-Wylde finished fifth and Oliver Green seventh.
The surprise of the tournament was Katie Maliff, who improved on her 9/16 seeding to finish fourth in the Girls Under-13 tournament. Maliff toppled the 5/8 and 3/4 seeds on her way to a semi-final place, where she lost to the eventual winner, Sana Mahmoud, in a closely-fought contest.