Assore & Baldwin Parkview Open, Johannesburg, (9-13 April’17) 

It proved to be so near yet so far for the Chennai lad Velavan Senthilkumar, the precociously talented young man from the Indian Squash Academy. The current Asian junior champion and keen to have a smooth transition to the professional world of PSA events, Velavan was close to winning his first PSA event in Johannesburg. The Parkview Open provided just the platform as he progressed from the qualification phase to knock out the 8th seed Belgian Tiago Goriely first and then in the quarters earned the prized cap of top seed Aqeel Rehman of Austria in a stunning three gamer. Third seed Mark Fuller of England was his next victim for a passage to the final. Expectations ran high there because his touch was so good, but Velavan met his match in the Egyptian Mohamed Elsherbini, who too was gunning for his first title. The 11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 11-8 win that the Egyptian scripted was not easy considering the speed with which Velavan negotiated his rivals sharp stroke-play.

However for the two other Indians, Harinder Pal Sandhu as also Sunayna Kuruvilla in the women’s section, the goings were not as comfortable. Harinder in fact was seeded two and in keeping with that billing progressed two rounds before Elsharbini stopped him in the semis. Making a come back bid into the PSA circuit after injury-care had kept him out for a while, Harinder had to struggle. Still like Velavan, Harinder too utilised the opportunity to sharpen his skills as the two await the Asian Championship on home ground (Chennai) in a few days. Similar for Sunayna, the current junior champion. She was the 6th seed in the field of 16. After a laborious first round win over South African Alexandra Fuller, Sunayna lost her way against second seed Milnay Louw of South Africa in the quarterfinal.

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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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