Just lovely! Harrogate's James Willstrop claims British Squash Championships glory

James Willstrop in action during his AJ Bell British National Squash Championships final triumph over Daryl Selby. Picture:Steve Cubbins
James Willstrop in action during his AJ Bell British National Squash Championships final triumph over Daryl Selby. Picture:Steve Cubbins
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Harrogate's James Willstrop wrapped up his third British National Squash Championships title when he beat Daryl Selby in Nottingham.

And the 35-year-old former World number one described his success as "lovely" following an 11-5, 7-11, 11-5, 11-7 victory in Sunday's hard-fought men's singles final.

“It’s lovely,” he said.

“To achieve a big title like that with so many big players is fantastic. My body got through it.

“It’s a huge title and a very special thing to be able to achieve, so I’m very, very happy.

“In a sport like squash, it’s not an easy sport to keep playing when you’re old, and historically speaking we are old squash players.”

Willstrop, who began as the tournament favourite, opened the scoring with a stunning pick-up at the front to win a mammoth opening point.

Second seed Selby responded in fine fashion moments later with a shot through his legs which brought the admiration of crowd and opponent alike.

The pair traded points up to 5-5 in the opening game, Willstrop eventually closing it out to take the lead in the match with an 11-5 win.

The Harrogate ace seized control of the second game, racing into a 6-0 lead but Selby fought back with the grit and determination which had characterised his tournament.

He levelled at 7-7 and took the momentum to level the match with his first game ball and an 11-7 win.

The third game was closely fought and tense, until a let decision in Willstrop’s favour at 7-5 up seemed to swing the momentum his way.

He reclaimed the lead in the match with an 11-5 win, again seizing the initiative with his first game ball.

Selby had pulled up in pain at the end of the third game but his belligerence showed no sign of waning, both players having to earn every point in a fourth game of true quality.

It was anybody’s game with Willstrop 7-6 up and grinding his way towards victory, but the mutual respect between the players was clear even with the stakes at their highest.

Willstrop’s quality and experience shone through winning with his second match ball, the watching crowd having been treated to a true exhibition of a final.

The success is the latest in a long line for the one-time highest ranked player in the World.

Despite being in the twilight of his career, he enjoyed a successful 2018, during which he won singles gold and doubles bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Australia.