Hemsworth squash star eyes assault on international circuit

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HEMSWORTH squash player Katie Smith geared up for her assault on the international circuit with two impressive performances in domestic competitions.

The Pontefract Squash club star, who turned 18 last month, will sign up for the WISPA (Women’s International Squash Players Association) Circuit next month and is set to be involved in the Swiss Junior Open at the start of December.

She prepared for her trip to Zurich with strong performances in the British Junior Closed Championships in Manchester and the Yorkshire County Closed Championships in Ilkley.

Competing in the U19 section, Smith received a bye in the first round in the British Closed before comfortably beating Essex opponent Emily Hayes 3-0.

Another smooth performance saw her defeat top-six seed Lucy Townley, of Cheshire, in the quarter-finals 3-1 before sealing a good win against Victoria Temple-Murray, 3-1, to book her place in the final.

The 18-year-old, ranked number two U19 in Britain, was always going to face a tough test against European and British number one Emily Whitlock in the final and so it panned out.

She was well beaten in the first two games but will take plenty of positives from the fact she won a game against Whitlock, beating her 12-10 - the first game her opponent had dropped in around 18 months of competition.

It was an excellent performance from Smith, and one that cemented her place as British number two girl at U19 level.

The England international enjoyed more success at the Yorkshire Closed Championships in Ilkley.

Smith has a special relationship with the competition, becoming the first person ever to win the tournament at every age level.

And she enjoyed more success this time, sweeping aside all her opponents to claim victory in the U19 category.

She beat Anna Shipley and Emma Peach en-route to her success.

It’s been a great year for the Hemsworth squash ace, who celebrated her 18th birthday by being invited to take part in training with national squad at Manchester’s Sportcity.

She’s also started playing alongside male team-mates at Collingham and Linton Squash Club, near Wetherby in the Harrogate League.

The venture was proposed by her coach Nick Williams, who plays for the club, and the team is so far unbeaten in their league campaign.

Competing for Pontefract Squash Club’s male teams has followed and she’s competed well for them in the Leeds Metro League.

Smith will return to action with the Yorkshire Senior Ladies team next weekend when they compete in the Inter-Counties competition in the Midlands.

A trip to Nottingham will follow to train with the national squad.

All this will help her prepare for a venture on to the prestigious WISPA Circuit, which will get her on the ladder for the world rankings.

The circuit tours all over the world, and involves the best players from around the planet. It will provide a big new test for the squash star.

The tour goes to places such as Melbourne, Mexico City, Monte Carlo, Doha, Dublin, Dallas, Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York, Cairo and Kuala Lumpur.

It all starts in Zurich, Switzerland, at the start of December with Smith set to compete in the Swiss Junior Open.

But to help her achieve her dream of climbing up the world rankings, Smith is looking for sponsorship help with mounting costs for travel, entry and equipment.

Anyone interested in helping should contact her Dad Barry on 07714 152354 for more information.

See this week’s Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express for all the latest sports news from around the area.