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National squash championship: India junior No. 2 enters third qualifying round in Pune

Mumbai’s Veer Chotrani enjoyed a phenomenal start to the 76th Senior National Squash Championship, winning both his qualifying rounds on day one at the RSI Club on Monday

pune Updated: Jun 11, 2019 16:56 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
National squash championship,India junior No. 2,Pune
Veer Chotrani (white t-shirt),and Kunal Singh (maroon t-shirt) in action during the national level squash tournament at the RSI squash court in Pune on Monday.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Mumbai’s Veer Chotrani enjoyed a phenomenal start to the 76th Senior National Squash Championship, winning both his qualifying rounds on day one at the RSI Club on Monday. After beating Shivam Kant 11-1, 11-1, 11-0 in the first qualifying round without breaking a sweat, he was pushed to the limit, but came out victorious beating the 25/40th seed Kunal Singh 11-4, 11-7, 11-7.

Coming into the nationals as the second highest ranked junior player in the country, Chotrani knew that the minimum expectation of him would be to make it into the main draw, and thus far, he has lived up to his expectations. His opponent from Madhya Pradesh, Singh, was two years his senior and gave him a tough fight, but Chotrani proved why he was one of the country’s next big things with a stellar performance.

The Mumbaikar began the first game strongly and played a number of drop shots that tired his opponent in the early exchanges. He looked to control the T and forced his opponent to run all over the court chasing the ball. Despite getting a bye in the first round unlike his opponent, Singh appeared to be worn out in the very first game and lost it 11-4.

In the second, Singh looked to match Chotrani’s style of playing and aimed to control the T. However, Chotrani’s experience came in handy as he opted for a more risky style of play, which may have cost him a few more points, but eventually won him the second game.

At the end of the second game, the junior number 2 also looked tired and it remained to be seen how he paced out the third. Due to the court being warmer than the ones he’s used to playing in, he decided to hydrate himself heavily and come out fresh in the third. He also stepped out of the arena to pour water on his head and it seemed to give him a slight edge over his opponent.

He played the third with the same intensity as the first game and the break between the games buoyed him over the finish line. He minimised the number of mistakes he made in the second game and kept it safe, forcing his opponent to play the risky manoeuvre rather than being the one to initiate it.

Playerspeaks

I think I played well and managed to get the ball where I wanted to. The courts here (compared to Mumbai) are a lot warmer and bouncier so it did take me time to adapt. I knew he was a good athlete and that he covers the court really well so I had to keep him on his toes and make him move around as much as I could.

-Veer Chotrani

I lacked consistency from the start and he took complete advantage of that. He made me fight hard for every point. Being from the NDA, I feel that squash is slowly picking up in the army and we’ll see a lot more players from the NDA in the near future.

-Kunal Singh

First Published: Jun 11, 2019 16:55 IST