HEMSWORTH squash star Katie Smith has served up a record-breaking start to the new year thanks to her success at the Yorkshire Closed Squash Championships, writes Nick Rigg.
The 17-year-old won the senior section of the competition, held at Doncaster Squash Club, to become the first-ever person to win the tournament in every age category.
Her final victory against Pontefract club-mate Hannah Shipley saw her add to a quintet of successes at U11, U13, U15, U17 and U19 level.
The Pontefract Squash Club ace made history by becoming the first boy or girl to win all five junior categories last October thanks to her victory in the U19 section.
And she proved to be just as dominant at senior level, with a 3-0 set success against Shipley giving Smith her first tournament success of 2011.
She beat Doncaster’s Emily Peach in the semi-finals to book her place in the final.
Smith’s success in Doncaster comes hot-on-the-heels of a difficult draw in the British Junior Open which kick-started the year.
The competition, held in Sheffield, attracts the best young squash players from around the world, and the draw wasn’t kind to the Hemsworth ace.
Smith was expecting to be seeded in the 17-32 section but a withdrawal in the top seeds forced her up into the 9-16 category, which pitted her with tougher-than-expected opponents.
The England international opened with a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Catherine Finlayson, of England, in the first round.
But she came up against top Egyptian player, and the eventual winner, Nour El Tayeb in her second match and fell to defeat by the same scoreline.
Top-ten seed Mao Shihui, from Singapore, proved another tough opponent but Smith came out on top in a close-fought 3-2 victory before a narrow loss by the same scoreline against Harriet Ingham, and a 3-0 defeat to Egypt’s Salma Hany, last year’s runner-up, saw Smith finish 11th overall.
The former Hemsworth Arts and Community College pupil was able to take plenty of positives from coming up against some of the best young squash players from around the world.
Smith warmed up for the British Junior Open by winning the Pontefract Junior Open in thrilling fashion.
Victories over Laura Bayliss and Sam Ward put Smith, taking advantage of her home courts, into the final against top-ten seed Chloe Pearson.
She was trailing 2-0 before her superior fitness levels helped her complete a superb comeback to win 3-2.
The youngster has been working with top fitness coach Christopher Price, who works in the gym at the Pontefract club.
And the work has helped improve her fitness levels on the court, something she hopes will lead her to more success in the coming months.
Smith is hoping to be involved in a number of England internationals in April. She’ll also compete in the European Championships in Germany in the same month.
See this week’s Hemsworth and South Elmsall Express for all the latest sports news from around the area.