TWO former world champions graced the Yorkshire Squash League Premier Division this week in a South Yorkshire derby – and it was Nick Matthew’s Hallamshire who came out on top against Laura Massaro’s Barnsley.
Triple world champion Matthew led the Sheffield side to a 19-5 home success with a comfortable 3-0 win over promising Welshman Joel Makin before heading off to the Middle East for the Qatar Classic.
In contrast, 2013 women’s world champion Massaro suffered her second consecutive YSL loss to a male opponent, going down 3-2 to Nick Wall.
As Alex Cutts and Mike Pearson both cruised home against Canada’s Hollie Naughton and Phil Wakefield, the defending champions finished well beaten, with only Chris Fuller securing a victory, by a 3-2 margin against Ashley Davies.
To add to Barnsley’s disappointment, they learnt this week that they had been penalised three points for fielding ineligible players against Dunnington and Chapel Allerton, so that they now lie joint fifth with Hallamshire on 65 points.
Pontefract still lead the table and indeed extended their advantage this week to 27 points after demolishing Hull and East Riding 20-0 at home.
Taminder Gata Aura, Neil Cordell, Alex Hodgetts, Lewis Doughty and Sam Todd were all 3-0 winners against Harry Falconer, Yusef Forster, Fi Moverley, Glyn Saunders and Paul Norton.
Dunnington also gained maximum points in a 20-3 home drubbing of second-bottom Abbeydale to step up their bid to regain the title they won in 2015.
Boosted by the return of world No 20 Chris Simpson, who trounced Guhan Sethikumar 3/0, Julian Tomlinson, Danny Hockborn, Gareth Lumsdon and Matt Stephenson ensured a clean sweep by beating Josh Taylor 3/2, Luke McFarland 3/1, Murray Scott 3/0 and Tom Turner 3/0.
The third-placed York outfit now stand 40 points behind Pontefract and 13 adrift of Chapel Allerton, but have two games in hand on the leaders and one on the Leeds team.
Yorkshire duo James Willstrop and Chris Simpson go head-to-head tomorrow when they meet in the first round of he Qatar Classic.
The event has been hit in recent days by a number of high-profile withdrawals with Ramy Ashour, Gregory Gaultier and Ali Farag all forced out due to injury.
That has opened up the draw somewhat, with Willstrop and Simpson – both based in Harrogate – hoping to outwit each other to set up a quarter-final showdown with world No 1 and top seed Mohamed ElShorbagy, who faces Peru’s Diego Elias in his first round opener.
Elsewhere, Sheffield’s Nick Matthew – a recent quarter-finalist at the World Championships in Cairo – takes on homegrown wildcard entrant Abdulla Mohd Al Tamimi, currently ranked 39th in the world, 34 places lower than his Yorkshire opponent.