HERALD MARITIME SERVICES
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Ritwik Bhattacharya beat back a resurgent Sahil Vora to take his appointed place in the men’s final of the Rs.6 lakh Herald Maritime Services Open squash on Friday. The top seed from Delhi won 15-10, 15-7, 17-16 in the first semifinal and will take on the winner of the match between second seed Siddharth Suchde and former national Champion Manish Chotrani.
Ranked 67th on the Professional Squash Association circuit, the Delhi-based pro-appeared to be in control early on, before the unseeded Mumbai player caught up at 14-14 in the third, won the next two points for 16-14 before the former roared back, clinching the tie with a delicate drop to the left corner.
The boy’s under-19 final will be an all Mumbai affair, with top two seeds Rushabh Vora and Manek Mathur winning their semi final matches against fourth seed Ritesh Sharma (Jindal) and Imran Khan (Dhampur) respectively.
Sahil Vora tames Nandrajog
Local player Sahil Vora had plenty to prove on the squash court against Delhi’s fourth seed Gaurav Nandrajog and he did it style, upsetting the higher ranked player in straight games at 15-7, 15-10, 15-13 in the country’s richest squash event, the Rs.6 lakh prize money Herald Maritime Services Squash Open at the Otters Club, here, on Thursday.
Vora goes on to a semi-final clash with the men’s top seed Ritwik Bhattacharya, who shrugged off the challenge from Karan Bhatty with a 15-10, 15-6, 15-2 victory.
Action also hotted up in the boys under-19 category with matches going the distance and providing high drama in the pre-quarter-finals.
While top seed Rushabh Vora sailed through his match against Dhampur’s Naresh Kumar 15-3, 15-13, 15-11. second seed Manek Mathur had to stretch every sinew of his tall, lanky fram to quell the challenge from Dhiraj Nagpal before prevailing 15-11, 13-15, 15-13, 17-15, 15-11.
Also being taken the distance was fourth seed Ritesh Sharma of Jindal, the decider going 17-16 in his favour against Siddharth Samantray. While top seed Vora will meet Sharma in the semi finals, Mathur awaits the winner of the match between Dhampur’s third seed Imran Khan and Jindal’s Sarvesh Chauhan.
Vora, ignored for a couple of selection trials inspite of featuring in the semi-finals of a couple of all-India events, went into the match against Nandrajog with a plan. He slowed down the game tremendously and kept going for his winners, finding the nicks and corners with amazing accuracy.
Nandrajog, who succumbed to Vora’s tactics, kept making silly errors as he ran out of patience and finally handed the game on a platter to the player from Mumbai.
The boys under-19 match between Mathur and Nagpal saw fortunes fluctuating with every game, but Nagpal emerged the surprised packet, giving the more fancied Mathur a run for his money.
Bhattacharya, Suchde set up title clash
Top seed Ritwik Bhattacharya and Siddharth Suchde set up a finals clash in the Herald Maritime Service Squash Open at Otters Club in contrasting styles.
If number one seed Bhattacharya had it easy against fifth seed Sahil Vora winning 15-10, 15-7, 17-16 the second seeded Suchde laboured against former top seed and current number three Manish Chotrani, Suchde finally 15-13, 15-12, 10-15, 15-5.
Though Vora stretched Bhattacharya in the third game and looked to pull one back after leading 16-15, his experienced opponent held his nerve and denied Vora the pleasure of winning a game.
“I never had doubts about who would win the game,” said Bhattacharya. “It was just that I relaxed a bit and Vora took full advantage. Though he played well and got the lead, I was sure of taking the next two points,” said the top seed Bhattacharya.
“This was the closest I could get to beating Bhattacharya,” said Vora. “It was close and I had I picked the ball properly the third game could have been mine,” Vora said regretfully.
Age was the main factor in the former national champion Chotrani’s loss to 19-year-old Suchde. The difference was visible in the way the duo went about the game. Chotrani could not keep up with the aggression and speed of his younger opponent.
Though the third seed Chotrani had experience on his side he could not keep up with his younger opponent who had played in the professional Squash Association tournament in Chennai recently. Suchde a student of Harvard used his training in Scotland and the experience of playing competitive games there to good effect.
“I was control but he managed to win back the third game,” said Suchde. “He was making me run all over, but I feel he could not keep up the pace and hence lost the fourth easily.
On his title encounter against Bhattacharya Suchde said he respected the top seed but on the court it was different. “I will go all out for a win and it should be tough game,” said Suchde.
Though Bhattacharya had beaten Suchde in the PSA at Chennai in straight sets he was cautious and said he would have to be careful. “Suchde is a good player and can prove to be a handful in crucial matches. I will have play my best game and be on me toes as relaxing even for a moment can prove costly,” he said.
Ritwik, Rushabh in India’s richest tourney
Ritwik Bhattacharya of Delhi and Rushabh Vora of Mumbai will get top billing in the men’s and boys under-19 respectively in India’s richest prize money (Rs.6 lakh) 2nd Herald Maritime Services Squash Open to be held at Otters Club, Bandra from Monday, July 26 till Saturday, July 31.
Sponsored by Herald Maritime Services and organised by Indian Squash Professionals under the auspices of the Squash Racquets Association of Maharashtra, the tournament will see competition in four categories, with the men’s singles winner standing to gain a purse of Rs.1 lakh, an unprecedented amount in the country’s squash history.
“As part of this tournament, the Chief Referee Yoginder Singh of Delhi will conduct a five-day refresher course and referees clinic for July 27-31,” Captain Jamshed Appoo of Herald Maritime informed.
“Another bold step by the sponsors will see country’s top player who is playing in the PSA circuit, Ritwik Bhattacharya, conduct a two-days free coaching clinic for youngster at the Khar Gymkhana on July 26 and 27,” he added.
The tournament will also feature events for boys Under-15 and men Over-40. The top seed in Under-15 event is local lad Vikram Malhotra while Onil Parmanik is the top seed for Over-40 event.
Announcing the prize money, Capt. Appoo, said the men’s winner will take home Rs.1lakh while the runner-up will get Rs.50,000.
The losing semi-finalists and losing quarter-finalists will also stand to gain Rs.25,000 and Rs.10,000 each respectively.
The boys Under-19 champion will be richer by Rs.75,000 while the runner-up will get Rs.35,000. The losing semi-finalists and the quarter-finalists will also make Rs.15,000 and Rs.8,000 each respectively.
The winner of the Under-15 event will pocket Rs.25,000 while the runner-up stands to gain Rs.10,000.
The over-40 winner will stand to gain Rs.40,000 while the runner-up will get Rs.20,000.
The seedings (Mens): 1.
Ritwik Bhattacharya, 2. Siddharth Suchde, 3. Manish Chotrani, 4. Gaurav
Indians are picking up : Jahangir
On Sunday, trailing 1-2, Ritwik Bhattacharya came out of the glass enclosure after winning the third game of the match and asked, “Any tips” to the man sitting right in front. There wasn’t a better person to advise him then. This man knew only about winning.
Jahangir Khan was one sportsman who came closest to invincibility. Not losing a single match on the squash court for five years and eight months, he won six World Opens and a record ten British Opens on the trot. His fitness regime and winning strategy are legendary, and on Sunday, Mumbai got a glimpse of him.
Khan was in the city as a guest of honour for the finals of the Herald Maritime All India Squash Open at the Otters Club.
The 40-years-old, now the President of the World Squash Federation, was treated to an exciting match between India number one Ritwik Bhattacharya and the second Siddharth Suchde. “It’s great to see Indian Players, especially the juniors, do so well in a sport, they haven’t excelled traditionally” he said after the match. The youngster, Suchde, had just caused an upset in five games and joined in the impressive gang of India’s Squash teens.
The soft-spoken Khan said, “Indian juniors are winning international competitions like the British Open and that shows they are right up physically with the Europeans.”
Though not speaking in the capacity of the president of the WSF, he said that squash needs to be introduced in schools and colleges so that it can exit being an exclusive, private club level sport.
“Countries like Indian and Pakistan also need to introduce public squash courts to get all the youngsters involved in the game.”
Disappointed with the standard of the game in Pakistan, be said, “There is a definite decline in Pakistan squash through the 1990’s. We used to have more competitions and work hard. I don’t see that kind of standard anymore.” For almost a decade the WSF has been working towards making squash an Olympic sport but the response hasn't been encouraging. Even Khan thinks that squash cannot get into Olympics till 2012.
“Almost 123 countries take part in the Olympics, all of them have to agree and then you also have to build the infastructure,” he reasoned.
Mahesh shocks Ravi in opener
Juniors Mahesh Mangaonkar and Cyrus Vakil came up with inspired performance, but finished with contrasting finals of the country’s richest squash event, the Rs.6 lakh prize money Herald Maritme All India Open Squash Championship, at the Otters Club, here, on Wednesday.
While the unseeded Mangaonkar upset the boys under-15 third seed from Dhampur, Ravi Dixit in four games, Cakil took the boys under-19 third seed, Imran Khan also from Dhampur to the distance before losing the decider 13-15.
Mangaonkar, the under-11 current national champion, playing his first tournament in the under-15 category, played a game far mature to his age to flummox Dixit, who is the country’s No.2 player in the under-13 age group. Mangaonkar goes on to meet Jindal’s Naveen Jangra in the round of eight.
The unseeded Vakil also did well to keep pace with the strongly built powerful hitter from Dhampur, Imran Khan. The third seed won the first game at a canter but was taken aback by the spirited fight back from the local lad, who won the next two games in a jiffy.
Proving a point Vora shows he is good enough with upset win
Sahil Vora had a point to prove and he did it in style. The 20-year-old defeated India number four Gaurav Nandrajog in three straight sets 15-8, 15-10, 15-13 in the Herald Maritime Services Squash Open at the Otters Club to prove to the men who matter in squash’s governing body in India----the Squash Racquets Federation of India (SRFI) that they have not been fair by excluding him from the Asian Seniors selection trails.
The win was sweet revenge for Vora as he had been at the receiving end against Nandrajog, including a loss in the final in this tournament last year. With the win Vora advanced to the semi-finals of the men’s category.
Nandrajog was in trouble from the start conceding the first ten points of the match.
Game two and three were a repeat of the first. Only some concerted efforts on the part of Nandrajog helped him get respectability to the scoreboard.
The urge to win was too great for the winner and words like “I still play squash after the match showed the extent to which Vora was affected by his non-selection.
“It hurts,” said Vora. “Just because I haven’t been going for camps to Chennai, (home to SRFI) it does not mean I am not fit to make it to the national team.
“They did not even call me for the Professional Squash Association (PSA) tournament that was held at Chennai recently. They did that just to miff me as I did not toe the line drawn by them by following their schedule,” Vora complained.
Incidentally Vora’s younger brother Rushabh was invited but he did not go as he wanted to concentrate on the preparations for the Herald Open.
Nandrajog was devastated by the loss and rued his inability to make it to the semi-finals. “Vora was never a threat to me. I had beaten him when I wasn’t playing well, I feel he was plain lucky today,” he said regretfully.
Noida’s Khanna Wins a thriller
Noida’s Harish Khanna had a fight on his hands against local professional superior fitness which held him good sted in the decider as he prevailed in five games to make the main draw of the men’s singles in the country’s richest squash event, the Rs.6 lakh prize money Hearld Maritime All India Squash Open at the Otters Club, on Monday.
Khanna who won the first two games at 15-9, 15-11 was taken aback at the gritty display from Solanki who hung on tenaciously and raised his display to win the next two at 15-8, 15-10 and level scores. However, his legs gave way in the decider and he could not match the player from Noida, who won quite comfortably at 15-8.
A total of 216 entries were received for this event, which forced qualifying rounds to be held in the boys under-19 and under-15 age groups also, the main draws of which will also begin on Tuesday.
Vakil Stretches Khan
Save me god,” yelled unseeded Cyrus Vakil as a last resort to beat third seed Imran Khan. But divine intervention was not forthcoming as he went down 15-9, 10-5, 10-15, 15-4, 15-13 in an under-19 third round match of the Herald Maritime Services Squash Open at the Otters Club yesterday.
The match was to be a formality as Khan had easily overcome Vakil in the Delhi Open some months ago. But the third seed was stretched beyond expectations.
Calling on all his experience, the 18-year-old Khan, who has been on the national circuit for six years managed to make it par after he was down 1-2 before the fire-works started in the deciding set.
Neither of the duo relented and scores remained tied till 12-12 before Khan took a decisive two-point lead. Not one to give up easily Vakil fought back and managed to win a point. But a low backhand stroke that sounded the board put paid to his hopes.
“I had a good chance of winning the game,” said Vakil. “ have no regrets considering the difference in our ages. Though I lost the game, it has helped me gauge where I stand at the national level. It has boosted my confidence and I hope to do well at the nationals in October,” stated Vakil.
Suchde downs Chotrani
Local favourite Manish Chotrani is a near certainly for all Otters Club finals. However, at this year’s Rs.6 lakh Herald Maritime Services Squash Open, his hopes were dashed by the young and energetic Siddharth Suchde.
The 19-years-old played at a frenetic pace to put out the former national champion 15-13, 15-10, 12-15, 15-5 in the men’s semi-finals.
Suchde now plays defending champion and top seed Ritwik Bhattacharya next. Bhattacharya brushed aside Sahil Vora 15-6, 15-9, 17-16 in the other semi-final.
The sheer pace variety of Suchde’s game had Chotrani scampering. His drop, volley and boasts were exemplary. Chotrani did build up early leads but was unable to maintain the momentum as he was forced into number of errors.
55th Tournament Organised by ISP