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Reality check for Indian juniors

At the British Open, Pallikal, was the only bright spot as she won the U-17 title beating defending champion for the last five years, Heba El Torky, reports Ajai Masand.

other Updated: Jan 08, 2008 23:12 IST

INDIANS PLAYERS were brought down to earth after their 'superb' performance in the Scottish Junior Open squash tournament in late December last year. Barring Anwesha Reddy and eventual U-17 champion Dipika Pallikal, all exited before the semifinal round in the British Open which was held at Sheffied immediately after the Scottish sojourn.

The chief consultant coach, S. Maniam, had told the Hindustan Times after the 'great' performance at the Scottish Open, that he was hopeful of a good performance in England too. However, things seem to have gone terribly awry. Maniam had said that the Scottish Open would serve to acclimatise the players for the tougher British Open. The Indians had won a whopping four age-group titles and finished runners-up in two categories.

On January 3, HT had quoted Squash Racquet Association of Malaysia (SRAM) president Datuk Sani Karim as saying that the Scottish Open was a 'low-grade' tournament and that the SRAM would prefer spending money in a better way.

At the British Open, Pallikal, who left the SRFI-ICL academy in Chennai and is now training under Egyptian coach Amir Wagih, was the only bright spot as she won the U-17 title beating defending champion for the last five years, Heba El Torky. She had skipped the Scottish Open.

Barring Reddy who exited in the quarterfinal, the rest could not go beyond the third round (Pre-quarterfinals) (see box).

Maniam, however, put up a brave front. "I am extremely satisfied with the performance," he said adding, "Dipika won the U-17 gold which is a major achievement, while Anwesha Reddy entered the quarterfinals of the Under-17 category…the players had performed to expectation."

Interestingly, the other player to do well at the British Open was Aditya Jagtap, who too did not take part in the Scottish Open. He was a bit unlucky but his achievements were no less commendable, considering that he beat Pakistani U-17 champion and second-seed Farhan Zaman 3-2 and lost in the quarterfinals to Egyptian Karim Abdel Gawad in a marathon 83-minute match. Gawad went on to win the tournament by beating the top seeded player of his country.

Comparison

SCOTTISH OPEN BRITISH

Boys (U-19)

Harinder Sandhu (champion) Lost in 3rd rd

(U-17)

Karan Mallik (runner-up) Lost in 1st rd

(U-15)

Mahesh Mangaonkar (champion) Lost in 3rd rd

(U-11)

Sandeep Ramchandran (champion) Lost in 1st rd (in U-13 category)

Girls (U-17)

Anwesha Reddy Lost in QF

(U15)

B. Aprajitha (runner-up) Lost in 1st rd

(Six players who did failed in both the Scottish and British Opens have been ignored)