AIMING HIGH: Yamba's Cameron Pilley (right) in action against Australian compatriot Ryan Cuskelly in the PSA Squash World Championships last month.
AIMING HIGH: Yamba's Cameron Pilley (right) in action against Australian compatriot Ryan Cuskelly in the PSA Squash World Championships last month. Contributed

Pilley sparks Ashes battle in New York

SQUASH: After celebrating Australia's dominance over England in the Ashes cricket last week, Yamba squash star Cameron Pilley will be out to rub salt into the wound when he meets Englishman James Willstrop in the first round of the JP Morgan Tournament of Champions next week.

Pilley has been trading blows with many of his English counterparts, including former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Paul Johnson, since the Australian side won the first test last month.

But now it is Pilley's turn to back up his words on the court at New York's iconic Grand Centra Terminal.

But it will not be an easy fight for Pilley, with the fighting Englishman acting as a bogey opponent for the hard-hitting Australian.

Pilley has not beaten Willstrop since joining the world tour in 2009, losing to the Englishman on six occasions throughout their careers including in the quarter-finals of the Tournament of Champions four years ago.

However the last time the pair faced off on court in the quarter finals of the AJ Bell British Squash Grand Prix, Pilley took his opponent to the limit in a four-set match narrowly going down 10-12 11-6 8-11 9-11 in what he believes was a tide-turning contest.

If he is able to get past Willstrop in the first round, Pilley will set up a tantalising clash with another England rival in the sixth-seeded Nick Matthew - who will also be looking to exact revenge for the Ashes hurt.

Pilley also finds himself on the same side of the draw as world number one Gregory Gaultier and Tournament of Champions defending champ Karim Abdel-Gawad.

Meanwhile fellow Yamba squash player Donna Urquhart will be looking for a triumphant start to 2018 when she meets World No. 11 Annie Au in the first round.

Urquhart is running hot off her career-best performance at the Monte Carlo Classic last year and took World No. 1 Nour El Sherbini to the limit in the first round of the World Championships last month.

The men's draw of the Tournament of Champions begins on January 18 with the women's kicking off in New York two days later.

Glass court matches from the main draw will be shown live on SQUASHTV, while the semi-finals and finals will also be shown on broadcasters including Fox Sports Australia.



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