ISA Junior (4-7 May’16)

Abhay - Doubles ISA JuniorThe latest edition of the ISA junior open presented a pleasing departure from past. While competitions in the nine-categories formed the core of the programme, the TNSRA, the organisers decided on bringing Malaysia’s top player Delia Arnold in and arrange exhibition matches in the midst of the junior programme. Indian stars Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Karthik joined to make it a wholesome event. As Commonwealth gold medallists, Joshna and Dipika joined as a team and junior male player Abhay Singh , dressed in a skirt much to the amusement of the gathering, teamed up with Delia for the doubles. Later Delia and Dipika played a singles match also.

All this enriched the programme, provided an opportunity for the young stars of tomorrow to interact and also put in perspective India’s women strength in squash. All this did not take away the enthusiasm and intensity of the competitions of the juniors. Seedings went awry as fresh talents sought space to excel. As Maj S. Maniam, the SRFI Consultant Coach was to say, “I am impressed with the high standards that were on view.” That was an apt summing up of the four-day event with few known names and some new forming the list of winners.

Among the finals the boys U-17 went the closest and the distance with five games deciding the winner. Top seed Tushar Shahani of Maharashtra easily one of the brightest among the junior crop showed his growing stature by wearing down the ebullience of the highly talented Veer Chotrani. The former national champion Manish’s son, Veer proved to be the dark horse in this section with his cool and collected approach that led him to a dream run. In the title-round too, the young boy still qualified to play in U-15 but preferring to play in the higher category, seemed in the mood to do more. The way he wove his way past Tushar with deft drops and wristy drives he looked in positive frame.

But Tushar, who had lost many a match against Veer in recent past has come a long way since. The top seed came back from arrears to have his way before Veer again surprised by grabbing one more game. The tussle for supremacy went to the wire but the deciding game was a let down in the sense, Veer’s sharpness faded where Tushar’s hunger to finish off grew.

In comparision the U-19 boys did not rise much thanks to Velavan Senthilkumar who kept his stable mate and ISA colleague Adhitya Raghavan under a tight leash. Though he suffered a nasty cut on his nose after Adhitya’s bat-swing caught him ackwardly and spent some time off court to attend to the bloody nose, the talented young man did not lose focus. Showing all round control, Velavan won in style. Similar was Sunayna Kuruvilla’s effort over top seed and state-mate Ashita Pranaya Bhengera in the U-17 section. Both are ISA trainees.

In the lower age category, much was expected of Sankalp Anand in the U-15 boys section. The Delhi lad had a fine run and looked good for the final show as well but seemed to lack the aggression to check his Delhi mate Gautam Nagpal. But there was high cheers for little Rohan Arya Gondi of Telengana who was ¾ seed but ousted the second seed Shaurya Bawa of Delhi in four games in the U-11.

Mr K.S. Sripathi, former President of the SRFI was the chief guest and gave away the prizes. Also present on the occasion was Mr N. Ramachandran, President WSF and IOA.

 

All Results (top 4): B11 3/4 Vivaan Shah (1), MH, def. Sharan Punjabi (3/4), MH, 11-9 11-3 11-7 . Final Rohan Arya Gondi (3/4), TS, def. Shaurya Bawa (2), DL, 11-8 9-11 11-4 11-8 . B13 3/4 Jay Vaknalli (3/4), MH, def. Raunak Singh (9/16), MH, 11-7 9-11 11-5 11-2 . Final Athrva Yadav (1), DL, def. Aaryaman Jaising (5/8), MH, 11-5 11-8 11-6 . B15 3/4 Armaan Chowfin (5/8), GA, def. R Kishore Arvind (9/16), TN, 11-7 11-4 11-9 . Final Gautam Nagpal (1), DL, def. Sankalp Anand (17/32), DL, 15-13 11-7 11-8 . B17 3/4 Utkarsh Baheti (3/4), RJ, def. Chaitanya Shah (3/4), MH, 11-4 6-11 15-17 11-4 11-5 . Final Tushar Shahani (1), MH, def. Veer Chotrani (17/32), MH, 8-11 11-7 11-6 8-11 11-3 . B19 3/4 Ranjit Singh (1), UP, def. Pranay Jain (3/4), MH, 11-3 15-13 12-10 . Final Velavan Senthilkumar (2), TN, def. Adhitya Raghavan (3/4), TN, 11-8 11-7 11-4 . G11 3/4 Harini V (3/4), TN, def. Advita Sharma (3/4), MH, 7-11 8-11 11-6 11-6 11-9 . Final Gitanjali Vasudevan (1), TN, def. Kaavya Bansal (2), MH, 11-5 11-6 11-7 . G13 3/4 Yuvna Gupta (5/8), MH, def. Uditi Mishra (5/8), RJ, 11-6 7-11 12-10 7-11 11-3 . Final Diksha Aurobindo (1), TN, def. Abhisheka Shannon (3/4), TN, 13-11 4-11 11-6 11-7 . G15 3/4 Sanya Vats (5/8), DL, def. Darshana Vasudevan (3/4), TN, 11-9 11-9 7-11 11-9 . Final Megha Bhatia (2), DL, def. Samita S (1), TN, 11-9 11-9 9-11 11-7 . G17 3/4 Amita Gondi (3/4), TS, def. Rathika Suthanthira Seelan (5/8), TN, 11-6 11-1 15-13 . Final Sunayna Kuruvilla (2), TN, def. Ashita Pranaya Bhengra (1), TN, 12-10 12-10 11-6 .

About Cyrus Poncha
I was born and lived in Bombay before moving to Chennai in 2001 to coach the Indian national squash team....what a journey its been!!

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