Willstrop Takes His
First Andy Gill Title
Malcolm Willstrop reports from Rochdale
The Andy Gill Memorial is one of the
longest-running tournaments in the country, and this was its twentieth
running. At no time has it lost its standing, and indeed in recent times a
C event has been added to the existing A and B events.
Five-time winner Nick Taylor and last year's
champion Marcus Berrett led the field, with World Junior Champion James
Willstrop, beaten finalist in 2001 and 2002, the other main player.
Taylor had to come from 2-1 behind against Adam
Stevenson, but in the semi-finals beat a dispirited-looking Andrew Whipp
Berrett and Willstrop moved easily to their
semi-final, and it was the youngster who showed how much success at the
World Junior Championship and European Senior Team Championships for
England had done for him He took control from the outset, and Berrett was
never in the hunt, managing just six points.
Taylor is a very popular figure in the Manchester
area, and a full house for the final contained many of his supporters.
Willstrop looks the part these days and although the first game lasted 29
minutes, he seemed mostly in control and when he won it 10/8 even Taylor's
supporters must have known their hero's number was up.
Willstrop finished off in style with his usual
display of racket skills to win his first Andy Gill on his sixth visit to
The 17-year-old American Chris Gordon, who lives and
trains under David Pearson in Harrogate, did well to win the competitive B
event, beating Nigel Willis 3/0 in the semi and David Barnett, also 3/0,
in the final. His time in England is paying dividends and he is now
America's number one under-19 player.
David Pearson won the Andy Gill several times, and
another Pearson, 17-year-old Michael, son of Brian and nephew of David,
won the C event beating a trim-looking Laura Lengthorn 3/1.
The plate went to James Willstrop's clubmate and
often training partner Andrew Cross, another promising youngster.
The tournament owes much to the efforts of Barry
King and Rob Slater and Tony Parker and his band of loyal referees.
Mr and Mrs Gill were there, and Andy's mother
presented the prizes. They must know after 20 events how much people
thought of their son.
James Willstrop bt Nick Taylor 10/8, 9/1, 9/2
Nick Taylor bt Andrew Whipp 9/2, 9/1, 9/0
James Willstrop bt Marcus Berrett 9/5, 9/1, 9/0
Chris Gordon bt David Barnett 3/0
Michael Pearson bt Laura Lengthorn 3/1
Andrew Cross bt Lawrence Hicks 3/0