Draw & Results


James Willstrop, the former junior British, European and World squash champion from Pontefract, Yorkshire, will seek to enhance his rapidly growing reputation amongst the world elite when he makes his debut appearance at the Brit Insurance Super Series Squash Finals at London's Broadgate Arena next week.

The past 12 months have seen the 21-year-old enjoy a meteoric rise to the upper echelons of the world game, reaching the semi-finals of four PSA Tour events, clinching his first PSA Super Series title and shooting to a career best no.5 in the world rankings. Considered one of the biggest threats in the world game, he has already claimed a string of major scalps during his fledgling professional career, including high profile victories over fellow Broadgate finalists, Jonathon Power, Amr Shabana and David Palmer.

The 6'4" Yorkshireman has today been drawn in the Harrow Group alongside fellow Yorkshiremen Lee Beachill and Nick Matthew and Australia's world no.2, David Palmer - the title winner at Broadgate in 2002.  Willstrop will launch his title bid against the Bermuda-based Australian on Monday 9th May.

Reacting to the draw, Willstrop said: "David is a tough opponent but it doesn't really matter who you draw first as all three group matches are going to be hard.  It's up to me to make sure I'm ready for them. A good start would be helpful so I've got to make sure I'm at my best."

After the three-day group stage, the two best-placed players from the Harrow group will progress to Thursday's semi-finals along with the top two qualifiers from the Fleet Group, headed this year by France's defending champion and no. 1 seed, Thierry Lincou. 

In a first for the Super Series Finals, Lincou, the reigning world champion, has been drawn in the same group as three former world champions - England's Peter Nicol, Egypt's Amr Shabana and Canada's Jonathon Power - making it, on paper, perhaps the most competitive group in the history of the tournament. Lincou will be first on court on the Monday evening, opening his title defence against the in-form Power, winner of last month's Bermuda Masters. Nicol, making an unprecedented 10th appearance at the finals, will face Shabana later in the evening as he embarks on his bid to clinch a record fourth Super Series Finals title. The Englishman - winner of 49 professional titles - currently shares the record of three Finals wins with the great Jansher Khan.

Despite the breathtaking quality of the 2005 Brit Insurance Super Series Finals field, Willstrop will be unfazed by the prospect of mixing it with the world's best after qualifying as the fifth highest points scorer from the 2004 PSA Super Series Tour - a series of elite world events that included the World Open, the Hong Kong Open, the PSA Masters and the Pakistan Open.  It was at this final qualifying event, in Islamabad last December, that he cemented his place in the 8-man line-up at Broadgate, defeating Australia's Anthony Ricketts to clinch his first PSA Super Series
Tour victory.

He commented: "I believe this is an event that I can win. The world game is really open at the moment - the last seven or eight tournaments have been won by different players - and that's great for the sport. On our day, any one of us is capable of beating the next. We all have what it takes to win this tournament.

"I've never been to the event before but I've watched it on TV and the venue looks superb. It's a big event with a great deal of prestige.  I was really keen to qualify and am very happy to have made it," he added.

Willstrop capped a sensational junior career in 2002, claiming his third consecutive British Junior U19 National Championship to establish himself as the country's most successful junior player of all time. His trophy cabinet already boasted U12, U14 and U17 national titles as well as British Junior Open trophies at U14, U17 and U19 level.  2002 also saw him become th world's top junior, when he claimed both the European and the World titles

After representing England with distinction at all junior levels, Willstrop has gone on to become one of the youngest players ever to play for the senior England team. Just last week he helped steer the four-man national team to victory over France in the final of the European Team Championships in Amsterdam.

Willstrop is coached by his father, Malcolm - also long-term coach and mentor to club colleague and close friend, Lee Beachill.  The two face each other in their second group matches on Tuesday evening.

"Lee is almost like a son to my dad.  When we play each other dad just leaves us to it. He sits and watches but doesn't offer any advice," he said.

Willstrop is widely tipped to become the next big star of world squash. Asked about where he saw himself in two years time, he replied: "I'm just taking it as it comes.  I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. You look at the players like Lee and Thierry, who won the World Open last year, and appreciate the years of work they've put in to get where they are. I don't want to get carried away - it's not as easy as people seem to think. Of course I want to get to the no.1 spot, but I want to enjoy my life as well - travelling around the world playing the sport I love. I'll just keep plugging way, enjoying it and take each tournament as it comes."