76th Senior Squash National Championship: 7th seed Vats cruises into round 2June 15, 2019, Pune
Sanya Vats, the seventh seed from Haryana, was given a run for her money against her India juniors’ teammate and Mumbai’s top ranked junior player Aishwarya Khubchandani in the first round of the women’s main draw match of the 76th Senior Squash National Championship at the I-Squash Sports Academy in Mundhwa on Thursday. Vats defeated Khubchandani by a 11-4, 11-1, 4-11, 11-9 score to make it into the final eight of the tournament.
The two under-18 players were no strangers to each other’s game, having played several competitive and practice matches together over the past few years. Vats, the more experienced of the two, held the upper hand and psychological advantage over her 15-year-old opponent as she won every encounter they played in the past. Khubchandani was hoping to catch Vats on a rare off day, but unfortunately for her it wasn’t to be.
In the first two games, Vats displayed squash of the highest order, playing a number of phenomenal shots with deft drop strokes that forced her opponent to run all over the court.
Khubchandani began the third with a different mindset and strategy and instead of throwing caution to the wind, she opted for a more conservative game and forced her opponent to play the risky stroke, rather than going for the winner herself.
This change in tactic worked only to a certain extent as she appeared to be drained out at the start of the fourth. It resulted in her playing a number of questionable strokes and after making a couple of unforced errors, the game seemed beyond her grasp. Vats, took advantage of her opponent’s lack of consistency and kept notching points on the scoreboard without getting nervy towards the end.
“My opponent was very good and I had to be at my very best to beat her today. She took me to my limits at times, so it was important for me to remain focused during the crucial stages of the match. To nullify her tendency to volley a lot, I hit the ball wider and forced her to chase it more,” said Sanya Vats.
“I put up a fight in the third game. The first two games I didn’t play too well, but at the start of the third I began playing aggressively. In the fourth, I made a couple of unforced errors at the start. All in all, I think I wasn’t on my toes enough and I should’ve been more alert. Towards the end, I felt I was getting better and fighting harder to get one point at a time,” said Aishwarya Khubchandani.
India junior number 2 Chotrani enters quarters
Veer Chotrani’s fairytale run continued during the 76th Senior Squash National Championship as he is now only two steps away from reaching the final. On Thursday, the national junior number 2, managed to get the better of the 9/16th seeded Aishwary Singh in a fiercely contested first round match of the men’s main draw. The final score read 9-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-3, 11-3 in favour of the 19-year-old.
Already having played five games in the span of three days, fatigue was certainly bound to play a role and put Chotrani at an immediate disadvantage compared to Singh, who only had to go through two qualifying rounds because of his superior ranking. This proved to be the case in the first game when Singh managed to edge out his opponent 11-9.
In the second, looking agitated because of the decisions going against him, Chotrani started to play more aggressive. Instead of playing out the longer rallies like he did in the first, he wanted the points to end quickly and hoped it would restore parity in the contest. He conceded a meagre five points and sealed the second game to make the set score one game apiece.
In the third, with the 9/16th seed leading 11-10, it appeared that Chotrani cleanly won the point to make it 11-11, but the refs called for a “let” and asked for the point to be replayed, which the Mumbaikar ended up losing.
However, in the fourth and fifth game, there was no show of nerves or complacency as the 19-year-old won both 11-3, 11-3 with some ruthless strokes to make it to the next round where he is set to square off against Sandeep Jangra.
“The referee made a few questionable calls and that was playing in my head, which is probably why I lost two games. What I had to do was forget about the referee and the people who were helping me, told me to focus on my game. The three games that I beat him, I played simple squash and did not try anything too fancy,” said Veer Chotrani.