Harrogate squash star happy with Commonwealth experience

SAFELY THROUGH: Harrogate's James Willstrop has progressed to the last 16 of the Commonwealth Games men's singles squash tournament

SAFELY THROUGH: Harrogate's James Willstrop has progressed to the last 16 of the Commonwealth Games men's singles squash tournament

First published in Sport The Northern Echo: Photograph of the Author by

HARROGATE’S James Willstrop praised the Glasgow crowds after enjoying a double success on the opening day of the men’s singles squash tournament.

Willstrop, who won a Commonwealth silver medal in Delhi four years ago, brushed aside Bermuda’s Nicholas Kyme to claim a comfortable 11-4, 11-3, 11-4 win in his first match in this year’s Games.

He then returned to the court for a last-32 tie against Gibraltar’s Anthony Brindle this evening, and was equally untroubled as he secured another straight-sets success.

“You want to be winning and successful, but just being here when it’s like this is great,” said Willstrop. “I have been to three Commonwealth Games, and they don’t come any better than this.

“That is totally sincere as well – I think all the stuff you’re hearing from the athletes is very sincere because it is quite exceptional what Glasgow is doing.”

Willstrop’s reward for tonight’s win is a last-16 tie with New Zealander Martin Knight tomorrow, and with the North Yorkshireman ranked number two in the competition, thoughts are already turning to a possible repeat of the 2010 final.

Back then, Willstrop lost out to compatriot Nick Matthew, who was selected as Team England’s flag bearer in Wednesday’s opening ceremony, but with four games still to play, the 30-year-old is not wanting to look too far into the future this time around.

“People might be talking about the possibility of me and Nick meeting again, but I don’t want to think about anything like that,” he said. “It’s very small margins out there, so you can’t look any further ahead than your next game.”

Jenny Duncalf also enjoyed a successful start in the women’s singles competition as she cruised past New Zealand’s Amanda Landers-Murphy to make the last 16.

Duncalf, who is also based in Harrogate, was much too strong for her Kiwi opponent as she claimed a comprehensive 11-2, 11-0, 11-8 success.

The world number 12 also won a silver medal at the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi, and today’s accomplished display suggests she is more than capable of repeating that feat in Glasgow.

She returns to the court tomorrow afternoon to face Canada’s Sam Cornett, who should offer a stiffer standard of competition after recording a straight-sets victory of her own today.

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