Unseeded Akshaya storms into quarterfinals, stuns 6th seed Sanika Choudhari

August 25, 2021


Reference: https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/sport-others/squash-unseeded-akshaya-storms-into-quarterfinals-stuns-6th-seed-sanika-choudhari-7467338/

City girl Akshaya Sri posted one of the biggest wins in her career when she stunned sixth seed Sanika Choudhari of Maharashtra 11-8, 2-11, 8-11, 5-11 in the second round to enter the quarterfinals of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) Challenger Tour-10 squash which began at Indian Squash Academy in Chennai from Monday.

In the first round, Akshaya, a 12th standard student, conceded the first game but rallied to defeat 9-16 seed Radhika Rathore of Daly College, Indore 7-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-2. She is the only unseeded player to enter the last-eight stage.

Top seeds Sunayna Kuruvilla, Tanvi Khanna, Sachika Balvani, Aparajitha Balamurukan, Urwashi Joshi, Janet Vidhi and Abhisheka Shannon took the appointed place without much fuss. However, the fifth seed Urwashi of Mumbai was stretched by Rathika Suthanthira Seelan, another city girl, 5-11, 11-4, 11-5, 4-11, 10-12 which took 43 minutes.

“I am feeling better and better. We all lost one full season and more,” Akshaya told indianexpress.com after her matches. “I never take any pressure during my matches. I try to enjoy my outings but I’m very confident and focussed. For the first time, we all began on equal footing. I’m facing all my rivals for the first time and I’ll be facing third seed Sachika Balvani in the quarterfinals also for the first time. Tomorrow I’ll try and play my level best,” said the student of Ewarts Matriculation, Chennai.

In the men’s category, Abhay Singh, world No.116, has been seeded No. 1, followed by former national champion Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu, Aadit Zaveri, Abhishek Agarwal and Velavan Senthilkumar. Apart from the top five seeds, Abhishek Pradhan, Rounak Yadav too have received first-round byes.

There were no surprises in the men’s category except for a minor upset when wild card entrant Kanhav Nanavati outplayed Rounak Yadav 12-10, 11-8, 11-6 in the second round to enter quarters.

The Challenger 10 level event, for both men and women, is restricted to domestic players due to the Covid-19 pandemic and offers prize money of $12,000.

Apart from the Chennai leg of the Challenger Tour, PSA is organising ‘domestic’ events at Surrey, England (TWC Squash Squared Open & restricted for players in the UK), Cairo International Stadium (CIB Egyptian Challenger Tour), Pink Power in Stuttgart, Germany (Schraglage Squash Open, open to players in Europe) and at Islamabad, Pakistan (PSF-COMBAXX Sports Squash Championship).

Players from Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were eligible but none gave entry.


Quarterfinal lineup: 2-Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu vs 5-Velavan Senthilkumar, Kanhav Nanavati bs

4-Abhishek Agarwal, 3-Aadit Zaveri vs 7-Rahul Baitha & 6-Abhishek Pradhan vs 1-Abhay Singh


Round 2: 2-Harinder Pal Singh Sandhu bt Jaideep Sethi 11-8, 4-11, 11-6, 10-12, 12-10, (WC) Kanhav Nanavati bt 8-Rounak Yadav 12-10, 11-8, 11-6; 5-Velavan Senthilkumar bt Tarun Mammen 11-2, 11-4, 11-6; 4-Abhishek Agarwal bt Jamal Sakib 11-9, 11-6, 11-8, 6-Abhishek Pradhan bt Mohit Bhatt 11-7, 11-9, 11-8; 3-Aadit Zaveri bt Yuvraj Wadhwani 11-9, 11-4, 11-5; Navaneeth Prabhu lost to 1-Abhay Singh 12-10, 15-13, 11-6, 7-Rahul Baitha bt [WC] Suraj Chand 11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 2-11, 11-8

Round 1: [WC] Yuvraj Wadhwani bt (9/16) Ravi Dixit 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-2; Mohit Bhatt bt Sumer Singh Ahluwalia 11-4, 11-6, 11-0; [WC] Kanhav Nanavati bt (9/16) Ranvijay Singh 9-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-6; (9-16) Tarun Mammen bt (9/16) Raju Shingava 9-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-1; (9-16) Jaideep Sethi bt Rishit Dunga 11-7, 11-7, 11-2; [WC] Navaneeth Prabhu bt Vaibhav Chauhan 11-5, 11-4, 11- 3; (9/16) Jamal Sakib bt (9/16) Naresh Shingva 11-3, 11-5, 11-2; [WC] Suraj Chand bt R Sreekartikeyan 11-4, 11-7, 11-2;


Quarterfinal lineup (all matches in glass court from 10 am): 1-Sunayna Kuruvilla vs 5-Urwashi Joshi, Akshaya Sri vs 3-Sachika Balvani, 4-Aparajitha Balamurukan vs 8-Abhisheka Shannon & 7-Janet Vidhi vs 2-Tanvi Khanna


Rd 2: 1-Sunayna bt Shameena Riaz 11-3, 11-4, 11-3; 6-Sanika Choudhari lost to Akshaya Sri 11-8, 2-11, 8-11, 5-11; Rathika Suthanthira Seelan lost to 5-Urwashi 5-11, 11-4, 11-5, 4-11, 10-12; 4-Aparajitha bt Navya Gupta 11-2, 11-4, 11-3; 7-Janet bt Sunita Patel 11-6, 11-9, 2-11, 11-5; 3-Sachika bt (9-16) Aaradhana Kasturiraj 11-6, 11-2, 11-1; 2-Tanvi bt Pooja Arthi R 11-4, 11-7, 11-5; 8-Abhisheka bt Anjali Semwal 12-10, 12-10, 11-9 (28m);

Rd 1: Shameena bt (9-16) Saniya Jaggi 11-8, 7-2 retired; Sunita bt (9/16) Aishwaria Payyan 11-0, 11-6, 11-8; (9-16) Aaradhana bt [WC] Ananya Narayanan 11-9, 11-1, 11-3; Pooja Arthi R bt [WC] Mithali Surana 11-8, 11-8, 11-5; Akshaya Sri bt (9-16) Radhika Rathore 7-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-2; Anjali bt (9/16) Skandha Dogra 11-8, 11-5, 11-9; Navya bt (9/16) Tiana Parasrampuria 13-11, 4-11, 0-11, 13-11, 11-6.